BOULDER, Colo. — The simplification of product formulations, an increasing level of transparency and greater degrees of personalization are among the most significant trends shaping the natural products industry, according a new report from New Hope Natural Media.
In addition to those trends and others, “NEXT: The Natural Products Industry Forecast 2014” also seeks to identify the brands, products, people and sales shaping the future of the natural products industry and compelling consumers to make healthy behavior changes. The report was created through research at New Hope’s Natural Product Expo East and Expo West shows, among other sources. New Hope and SN are both owned by Penton.
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In an interview with SN, Carlotta Mast, lead author of the NEXT Forecast 2014 report, pointed out that one of the most significant trends in the natural products industry could be described as “ancient wisdom.”
“You are seeing this move toward simpler products where new product innovation is actually undoing a lot of what we had done with our food products over the last decades,” she said. “Things had gotten so complex, with these long lists of ingredients, and hyper-processing.
“Now you are seeing a reversion back to much simpler, whole food based offerings — so you might see a very short ingredient list, with all ingredients you would know as food.”
The trend is also occurring in personal care, she noted, as many of those products are adopting shorter ingredient lists as well — many of which are foods themselves, such as superfruits.
In food categories, the trend toward simplification is reflected in consumer interest in things such as vegan, vegetarian and paleo diets, and in ancient grains.
“In many ways we see the food future is looking like our past,” Mast explained. “There’s this feeling that there was a better way to do things when it was less complicated.”
Another major trend in the natural products space is transparency, as consumers are increasingly interested in learning as much as possible about the ingredients in the products they consume. That’s been driven in part by a number of food-contamination scares, Mast explained.
In response, manufacturers are becoming much more straightforward about their ingredients, and some — such as Kind snack bars — have even begun using clear packaging and minimally processed ingredients.
Transparency is also closely tied to consumers’ desire for locally produced product, Mast explained, as consumers see local provenance as a source of confidence in the integrity of the product.
“A key driver of the ‘local’ trend is this need for transparency,” she said.
Another key trend is personalization —as consumers gain access to information, they also want products they see as more customized for their specific needs. This is particularly true among Millennials, Mast noted.
She cited as an example BluePrintJuice’s Cleanse beverages, which allow consumers to select the right formulation for their needs.
“Through their packaging and product assortment, you can customize your experience with their brand,” Mast explained.
Many large food companies are also conducting research toward products to meet dietary needs based on an individual’s DNA, she noted.
“Some see it as the Holy Grail” of product personalization, Mast said.
She also noted that many such trends in natural products quickly “bleed” into the conventional space.
Sidebar: Packaging Trends Emerge
BOULDER, Colo. — Sterling-Rice Group and New Hope Natural Media, a division of Penton, have identified the top six packaging design trends that are changing consumers’ relationships with products.
Sterling-Rice Group and New Hope Natural Media’s Nutrition Business Journal teamed up for a joint venture called “NEXT: The Natural Products Industry Forecast 2014,” a report that shares trends in food, packaging design, beauty products and more, available at nextforecast.com.
Following are six of the top trends in design:
Moving Beyond the Mascot: Characters get a life. Brands are creating dimensionalized characters with rich online worlds, social media, games, blogs, videos and more.
Naturally White: A color once reserved for generic and tech products, white infiltrates food and beverage packaging providing a clean, upscale look without distraction.
Fantastic Forms: Breakthrough package design comes from advancement in technology and innovative packaging materials. Unique forms now solve problems, serve consumers’ needs, and add a new level of appeal to differentiate themselves on shelves.
Kid Focused. Adult Friendly: Packages keep children interested and please adults by communicating company values, creating parent communities, and using innovative forms to help engage kids in new ways and enhance the overall product experience.
Sustainable = Endurance: Sustainability has been elevated with packaging that is entirely eco-conscious with zero waste and materials that are completely compostable and even digestible.
Cleaning Catches Up: Method was the trailblazer in this category and now others are catching up with high-style packaging for cleaning products that look as good as they clean.
For more detail and examples of the top six design trends, visit srg.com.
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