Align New Products to Changing Consumer Mindsets Amid COVID-19

Amid COVID-19, we have observed and been part of the food industry’s journey to quickly pivot to changing consumer shopping behaviors and strategies. The recent happenings impacted most people’s lives in many ways, so that it required consumers and manufacturers globally to adapt to the circumstances quickly. Some of these effects were temporary, yet others likely have a longer-term impact.

As the industry ushers in a new normal – will grocery return to its ‘normal routine’ in which innovation plays a crucial role? If we turn to historic recessions as a source of inspiration, our bet is yes, as new food and drink products have an important place with consumers who have an appetite for affordable indulgence and new food experiences.

What new food products will arise out of COVID-19?

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As Harvard Business Review comments on recessions and consequent economic upturns, “marketers have to stay flexible… having a pipeline of innovations ready to roll out on short notice” as consumers will be willing to try news before the economy is in full recovery, and the first ones that are prepared would win. Generating new product ideas is often the more simple part of product development. However, innovation based on true consumer understanding can be complex. With 130+ years of fostering a culture of innovation, Sensient brings the expertise necessary to transform ideas, bringing them to life in customers’ food and beverage product launches.

Through our global research and partnership with noted research firms, Sensient has identified 10 key post-COVID-19 scenarios that will affect the consumer packaged goods landscape, and more specifically, 5 scenarios that will directly influence new product innovation in the food and beverage industry.

10 Key Post-Covid-19 Scenarios

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1. Made local is better

Ethical consumerism can manifest in many different ways. Yet there is clearly growing consumer interest in locally produced foods and beverages. The motivation may differ, yet through choice consumers often aim at supporting local economies, helping their surrounding by their choices, complying with the local culture, or feeling good about the origin of their food and beverage purchase.

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2. Inspired Eating at Home

Due to the pandemic, global in-home cooking and meal preparation have grown significantly. Even after the pandemic, consumers will remain cautious about eating out. Their comfort and familiarity with at-home food preparation is a great opportunity to provide shoppers with inspirational ideas and new taste experiences.

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3. Retailer Brands Surge Ahead

As Mintel reports, “In all recessions, brand loyalty becomes less important than price sensitivity” and value-seeking consumers grativate to private label brands. With lockdowns occurring in many European countries that had been in place, the impact on grocery retail brands is projected to be even more pronounced than in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis.

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4. Immunity Advantage

Consumers around the world are trying to minimize their susceptibility to the novel coronavirus. They will consequently show a growing interest in food and personal care products that deliver a promise of enhanced immunity. Immunity benefits from botanicals may be particularly appealing. Beverages, supplements, skincare, and food brands can all leverage ingredients knowns for aiding the immune system.

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5. Affordable Indulgence

After the global financial crisis in 2008, consumers remained cautious and avoided extra expenses. However, post-COVID 19 consumers are predicted to seek out enjoyment beyond essentials with financial caution. Affordable indulgences, such as special treats, indulgent dessert items, spa products, and other simple treat-like experiences will be chosen to satisfy the demand.

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As a global health and economic crisis, COVID-19 will likely have permanent implications on consumer behavior. New grocery products capitalizing on the mindset of post-COVID-19 consumers are more likely to see greater engagement. As an example, let’s take a look at one scenario and explore its potential effect on a consumer’s buying habit…

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Inspired
Eating at home

Recall from above, consumers will remain cautious about eating out and expect new grocery product opportunities to inspire at-home food preparation and new taste experiences.

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“Dining-In-AND-Out”

Many consumers pre-COVID-19 were on-the-go, dining out, and using delivery services for a certain amount of mealtimes. Now, as countries re-open, they yearn for new taste experiences beyond at-home cooking but venture out with newfound caution and less frequently than before COVID-19.

Many consumers post-COVID-19 will still rely on at-home meal preparation for some time, but will be highly interested in product offerings with restaurant-inspired flavour profiles that are easy and convenient to prepare. Yet what would be the types of product offerings that align with the mindset of these “foodies” that want to enjoy culinary experiences eating at home? Here are just some ideas sparked by our Sensient experts…

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Dairy

Yoghurt Indulgence with infused summer peach and swirled Vietnamese Tea

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Beverage

Sparkling Mandarin with Exotic Passionflower and a touch of smoked Madagascan Vanilla

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Snack

Light, bright and refreshingly green: Cactus Green Tea & Lime

Or would you prefer a ‘Summer & Spice’ ice-cream combination of quintessential raspberry and spicy pink pepper? In the end, preparedness, responsiveness, and empathy will be key factors to winning over consumers in the “new normal”. Are you ready?

Sensient’s team of experts will be happy to support in generating product opportunities that are aligned to the new mindsets and needs of consumers in a post-COVID-19 world in any food and beverage category. Regardless of whether you are looking for just the right natural colouring or unique flavour that sets you apart, emerge with product launches from post-COVID-19 insight-driven knowledge. We look forward to providing you a personal consultation.

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