CHICAGO – Twelve consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends that will impact product development in 2011 have been identified by Mintel spanning across categories from health and wellness, the environment, demographics, marketing and media, convenience and indulgence.

“These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends, rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing,” notes Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. “Understanding the major trend areas and how they change from year to year is essential for companies to be successful when developing and launching new products.”

Six of these core trends include:

  • Quiet reduction — Sodium, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) appear to be experiencing covert reductions in product formulations. Although sodium reduction has long been the focus of “quiet reduction,” sugar and HFCS are jumping on board.
  • Redefining natural — Although all types of natural claims have grown in importance in all regions and across all product categories, the term “natural” is still ill-defined. Terms that are vague or not well understood will come under fire and we are due to see an intervention of regulatory bodies. Expect to see a new focus on accentuating the positives of what is in a product, rather than emphasizing what is not in it.
  •  Professionalization of the amateur — Mainstream brands are getting into a more serious “professional” arena, by bringing into the home what used to require a specialist service. This trend arguably has its origins in personal care markets, with “salon-style” hair treatments for home use, but continues to expand to include household (“professional strength” cleaning products) and food (chef-endorsed, restaurant-style meals).
  •  Sustainability stays focused on the basics — There will be a greater focus on reduced packaging that promotes environmental responsibility in combination with uniqueness, such as boxless cereal bars or more cereals without the inner bag. Also, expect water usage to become a hot, consumer-facing issue in 2011. Companies will be looking for ways to conserve water and change their consumption habits so that there is enough world supply.
  • Blurring categories — Manufacturers’ response to consumer needs is the driver to developing hybrid products. Consumers don’t necessarily view products as being in one category or another, rather they look for solutions that meet their needs and that may be something that straddles multiple categories. Sparkling beverages are appearing more and being positioned as a source of refreshment, as well as sophistication. Beyond hybrid forms, Mintel also sees a blurring of how consumers use products – with snacks as meals, for example
  • New retro — Over the last year, Mintel has seen more big brands that revitalize old products and old ad campaigns, tapping into the escalating trend of nostalgia. It anticipates more of these in 2011. Companies are returning to a time when life seemed somehow easier, whether that’s the 1980s for consumers in their 20s, or the 1970s or 1960s for older consumers. You’ll see this with brands using old formulations, old package designs, re-runs of advertising campaigns or new ads with a retro feel.