All about me: consumers tailor F&B choices to their personal needs

“Tailored to Fit,” Innova’s #3 trend for 2021, recognizes that consumers are taking ever more personalized approaches to their food and beverage choices. By exercising greater control of their diets, people can improve their health or weight management, satisfy ethical concerns, suit their purchasing to personal tastes or simply enhance their overall eating and drinking experiences. Overall, almost two-thirds of consumers now say that they are finding more ways to tailor their purchasing as it increasingly becomes “all about me.”

Health remains the number-one focus and the key driver of personalization. An average 82% of consumers believe that it is becoming more important to take control of their health, a figure that rises to 87% among those aged 56 and over. At the same time, the majority of consumers agree that there is no “one-size-fits-all” for healthy nutrition. When asked about the most important criteria for tailoring healthy eating, individual nutritional needs come out on top, just ahead of lifestyle and body composition. However, many consumers consider more than one of these things and are open to new tools for understanding their needs; for example, as many as one-quarter of respondents say they would like their genetic profile to factor into diet personalization.

When it comes to specific health concerns and personal needs, the pandemic has certainly pushed immune health to the fore, making it the top area of interest – just ahead of digestive and gut health. The importance of these issues is mirrored within global NPD, with prebiotic, probiotic and immune health claims showing the fastest growth within the functional or active health arena. Immune health development is diversifying rapidly, with supplements, shot drinks and beverages being joined on the shelf by an ever-wider range of immune-oriented products, including everyday staples and more indulgent treats. In the UK, John West has launched a canned tuna product with immunity benefits, containing added acerola and vitamin C as active ingredients, while specialty chocolate producer Wizards now offers two flavors of Immunity chocolate bars with vitamins and antioxidants for more guilt-free indulgence.

Approaches to weight management can also be very personal. Although exercise is still the single most important strategy, more than two-fifths of weight-conscious consumers choose to make reductions in their diet, while around one-third target nutritionally balanced diets. Specific weight management programs are most popular among younger consumers, with 69% of Generation Zs and Millennials following some kind of named diet in the past year vs less than one-third of Boomers. Specific diet choices vary from person to person, but research shows that new-generation diets such as ketogenic and Whole30 are now proving as popular as more established programs such as WeightWatchers and Atkins.

John West Immunity Tuna Steak With Spring Water (United Kingdom, Jun 2021), Gorod Sad Keto Granola With Peanut Butter (Russia, Mar 2021), Nestle Kitkat Vegan Chocolate (United Kingdom, Feb 2021).
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Within NPD, the keto diet is very much on trend at present, with keto-friendly launches growing at more than 200% CAGR in the five years ending Q1 2021. Although North America is still driving this – representing three-quarters of all launches over this period – keto is also starting to make its mark all around the world. For example, in Russia, health food retailer Gorod Sad has recently launched a range of three low carb granola breakfasts positioned specifically on a keto platform.

As well as health and weight management, personalization is also important to consumers based on their ethical and environmental beliefs. More and more consumers have been adopting plant based and vegan diets in recent years, not only for health reasons but also due to concerns over animal welfare and the health of the planet. Rising interest is again reflected in new product development with launch numbers growing fast. Vegan and plant based messages are breaking more firmly into the mainstream – such as Unilever’s vegan Magnum ice creams, which are now widely available around the world and a vegan KitKat, launched by Nestlé earlier this year.

The digital revolution is playing a key part in the “Tailored to Fit” trend, with digital tools making it far easier for consumers to personalize their health and nutrition, home cooking and foodservice choices. Younger consumers are particularly influenced by technology and its role in their personal food journeys. Virtual assistants and smart appliances are used by twice as many Generation Zs and Millennials as Boomers. Similarly, almost four times as many younger consumers source food information from Instagram or online vloggers than those in the oldest age bracket.

Moving forward, health and wellness will continue to drive personalization demands around the world, but digital advances are allowing ever closer interaction between brands and consumers and this can be exploited further to deliver more personal experiences of all kinds.

“Tailored to Fit” is a new Trends Insider report from Innova Market Insights. It looks at the growing importance of personalization in the positioning of food and beverages, reviewing consumer attitudes and highlighting the ways in which innovators are responding by tailoring products to more specific demands.

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