Bonjour, plants; adios, plastic. That’s what global consumers are saying, united by product trends that transcend consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories and national boundaries. Today’s global consumer trends influence e-commerce strategies, online marketplace assortments, and retail marketing trends in the U.S. and beyond. 

For CPG brands, knowing where your products are in-demand can help you stand out online, and sell to consumers and retail buyers around the world.

Why Now: Global E-Commerce Boom Time

The pandemic catapulted global retail infrastructures into a digital decade.

Latin America’s retail e-commerce sales grew 37% last year, making it the fastest-growing e-commerce region in the world. Argentina (+79%) has the fastest-growing retail e-commerce market worldwide, compared to Brazil at 35%. In North America, Mexico’s growth rate is 27%. 1 Cuervels, Matteo. Latin America will be the fastest-growing retail e-commerce market this year. eMarketer Insider Intelligence. December 14, 2020. Spain’s e-commerce sales grew 36% while the U.K. grew 35% and New Zealand grew by 16% (vs. 2% for brick-and-mortar). 2 Cuervels, Matteo. Latin America will be the fastest-growing retail e-commerce market this year. eMarketer Insider Intelligence. December 14, 2020. , 3 Trends in New Zealand’s Retail Sector. BDO New Zealand. 2021.

Online baskets are getting bigger. In Chile, two-thirds of shoppers bought more online while 52% of consumers in Ireland spent more. 4  Navarro, J.G. E-commerce in Chile. Statista. February 9, 2021. , 5 O’Connell, Sandra. What does the store of the future look like? The Irish Times. August 27, 2020. To boost global online growth, brands can embrace e-commerce essentials like high-quality images, accurate product data, and distinct offerings. 6 Innovation for a Post-Pandemic World. IRI. February 17, 2021.

2021 Global Retail Trends

Here are 2021’s top global consumer trends and how brands can adapt to them.

E-Grocery

Amazon Fresh Grocery Store
Amazon Fresh store (Source: Aboutamazon.com)

Globally, more consumers are enjoying the convenience of online grocery shopping. 

Ireland’s online share of grocery more than doubled in 2020. 7 Ingram, Lucy. Irish grocery market: record-breaking online sales. IGD Retail Analysis. March 9, 2021. This year, consumers are most likely to buy groceries online in the U.K., Spain, and France. 8 Gerckens, Claus, Franck Laizet, Daniel Laubli, Eugen Zgraggen and Jean-Albert Nyssens. The path forward for European grocery retailers. McKinsey & Company. March 25, 2021. Experts predict New Zealand’s e-grocery sales will remain strong as consumers embrace online shopping. 9 Miles, Nick. Five trends shaping grocery retail in Australia in 2021. IGD Retail Analysis. February 26, 2021.

CPG takeaway: Food and beverage brands can distinguish their products with digital marketing that emphasizes relevant keywords like artisanal, vegan, and gluten-free. 

Beauty

Clean skincare trends found on Sephora (Source: Sephora.com)

Despite global sales declines during the pandemic, experts expect beauty to boomerang back as consumers get out and socialize without masks. Researchers predict the global cosmetics industry will earn a compound annual growth rate of 5.3% from 2021 to 2027, as beauty remains a top cross-border e-commerce category. 10 Sternberg, Charles. Global Cosmetics Industry Forecasted to Reach $463.5 Billion by 2027. Beauty Packaging. March 15, 2021. , 11 E-commerce sector spotlight: Cosmetics. Landmark Global. January 6, 2020. Global consumers are now four times more likely to buy makeup and personal care products online. 12 Culliney, Kacey. COVID-19 one year on: The pandemic has created a digital beauty space ‘on steroids,’ says expert. CosmeticsDesign-Europe. April 26, 2021.

Natural and clean beauty products are growing in popularity in the U.K. and Germany. Consumers now focus more on the ingredients, as they seek natural cosmetics and skincare products with organic ingredients. 13 Callaghan, Shaun, Eric He, Sara Hudson and Stefan Rickert. Wellness worldwide: Consumer insights from four countries. McKinsey & Company. April 8, 2021. , 14  Sternberg, Charles. Global Cosmetics Industry Forecasted to Reach $463.5 Billion by 2027. Beauty Packaging. March 15, 2021.

CPG takeaway: Beauty brands can emphasize relevant on-trend keywords in their digital marketing.

Private Labels

Target_Group_Hero.jpg
Target’s private label Good & Gather (Source: Corporate.Target.com)

During the pandemic, private labels have gained the most market share in markets like Colombia (+3.5%) and Portugal (+2.0%). 15 Winning Omnichannel: The future of FMCG and Retail post-COVID. Kantar. 2021. Argentina led among grocery private labels in Latin America, with a 43.5% year-over-year increase in turnover in 2020. 16 Argentina: leading the growth of supermarket own private label brands in Latin America. Discount Retail Consulting. April 13, 2021. Last year, grocery private labels in Europe earned the highest growth in the fresh and frozen, dairy, and health and beauty categories. 17 Private label maintains strong position across Europe. PLMA International. April 13, 2021.

Recent award-winning private labels spanned CPG categories, including Aldi Ireland’s Chocolate Protein Milk, El Corte Inglés’ Fred & Rita Biodegradable dog waste bags in Spain and Carrefour’s 100% Natural Bamboo Toothbrush in France. 18 Retailers from eighteen countries win PLMA International “Salute to Excellence” Awards for own brands innovation. PLMA International. September 2020.

CPG takeaway: Aligning with emerging trends could help brands appeal to global retailers seeking collaborations for their own private brands.

Sustainability

Nuud chewing gum
Nuud Gum U.K. (Source: NuudGum Twitter)

Environmentally friendly products and packaging are in vogue. In the U.K., a new plastic-free, biodegradable chewing gum brand, Nuud, launched as demand soars for natural, sustainable products. 19 Upshall, Emma. New biodegradable chewing gum Nuud launches into U.K. retail. FoodBev Media. April 20, 2021. Brazilian sustainable sneaker maker Cariuma makes sneakers from bamboo and sugarcane, and it plants a pair of trees in the Brazilian rainforest for every pair of sneakers sold. 20 The 10 most innovative Latin American companies of 2021. Fast Company. March 9, 2021.

To protect six-packs of beer in Colombia and Argentina, Corona launched sustainable paper packaging made from surplus barley straw, as the process uses 90% less water, less energy, and fewer chemicals. 21 Arthur, Rachel. Corona launches six-pack beer packaging made from barley straw. March 18, 2021. BeverageDaily. Using transparency as a competitive edge, U.K. supermarket Iceland published its own “plastic footprint” and challenged rivals to share metrics revealing how much plastic waste is used in their packaging. 22 Iceland challenges supermarket rivals to publish ‘plastic footprint.’ BBC News. September 16, 2020.

CPG takeaway: Sustainable goods, packaging, practices, and certifications can make brands stand out online.

Health & Wellness

Popular Australian vitamin company, Natures Way (Source: NaturesWay.com)

Around the world, sales of vitamin and mineral supplements have risen sharply during the pandemic. In the U.K., sales have reached record levels this year, driven by consumers’ desire to improve their health and immunity. 23 Evans, Judith. Rise in vitamin sales during pandemic a tonic for consumer goods groups. Financial Times. August 17, 2020.

Across Europe, 30% percent of consumers plan to focus more on healthy eating and nutrition in 2021 compared with 2020, especially in Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands. 24 Gerckens, Claus, Franck Laizet, Daniel Laubli, Eugen Zgraggen and Jean-Albert Nyssens. The path forward for European grocery retailers. McKinsey & Company. March 25, 2021. Down under, 60% of Australians seek healthy products and more retail companies are focusing on healthy lifestyles. 25 Miles, Nick. Five trends shaping grocery retail in Australia in 2021. IGD Retail Analysis. February 26, 2021.

CPG takeaway: Focus on health messaging to appeal to health and wellness lifestyle communities to drive online sales.

Plant-Based

Latin American Plant-Based Company NotCo (Source: NotCo.com)

Worldwide plant-based meat sales could hit $140 billion by the end of this decade, and plant-based beverages like almond milk and coconut water account for $13 billion with a 12% annual growth rate. 26 Gadiesh, Orit and Jenny Davis-Peccoud. Why Sustainability Is the New Digital. Bain & Company. January 13, 2021.

In the U.K., sales of plant-based meat substitutes have grown by more than 85%. 27 Davis-Peccoud, Jenny, Jean-Charles van den Branden, Chris Brahm, Gerry Mattios, and Joëlle de Montgolfier. Sustainability Is the Next Digital. Bain & Company. September 8, 2020. Plant-based meat alternatives are so strong in Europe that Beyond Meat has expanded distribution in the U.K. and Germany and its Beyond Mince line is expanding in Switzerland and The Netherlands. 28 Garcia, Tonya. Beyond Meat expands European distribution. MarketWatch. April 12, 2021.

Chilean food brand NotCo sells plant-based milk alternatives like mayonnaise and ice cream, and its sales are booming in Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. 29 The 10 most innovative Latin American companies of 2021. Fast Company. March 9, 2021. , 30 Yu, Douglas. Latin American Plant-Based Company NotCo Closes $85 Million Series C Round Upon U.S. Entry. Forbes. September 9, 2020.

CPG takeaway: Emphasize the health and variety benefits of plant-based food and a flexitarian diet. 

Vegan

Veelicious
Asda supermarket trials “Vegan Butcher” concept (Source: Asda.com)

Last year, 400,000 consumers in the U.K. tried a vegan diet, and more than 600 companies promoted a Veganuary campaign and launched more than 1,200 new vegan products. In response, supermarket Asda plans to add a new vegan aisle to 359 of its U.K. stores and launch a new range of vegan products. 31 Paige, Jessica. Retail industry in 2021: Top five trends to look out for. Retail Insights Network. December 7, 2020.

In Canada, Google data revealed a 113% spike in vegan-related searches since 2016, with vegan recipe searches up 26% in 2020. 32 Meat-free and vegan consumer base grows during COVID-19. Retail Insider. July 27, 2020.

CPG takeaway: Vegan brands can target this growing global community across all digital marketing touchpoints.

Value

More European consumers are focusing on affordability and value in grocery shopping. 33 Spencer-Jolliffe, Natasha. How to predict trends in a pandemic. Speciality Food. April 19, 2021. In Europe, 37% of consumers plan to look for ways to save money on groceries. Consumers in Spain, Italy, the U.K., and France are the most likely to look for ways to save money when shopping. In Italy and Spain, consumers actively search for the best promotions and Spanish consumers are most likely to switch to less expensive products. 34 Gerckens, Claus, Franck Laizet, Daniel Laubli, Eugen Zgraggen and Jean-Albert Nyssens. The path forward for European grocery retailers. McKinsey & Company. March 25, 2021.

Meanwhile, in Australia, 27% of business owners expect consumers to have heightened expectations related to pricing. 35 Australian Retail Outlook 2021. KPMG. 2021.

CPG takeaway: Brands offering accessible price points, deals and discounts can appeal to price-conscious consumers. 

Purpose-Led brands

Longo's Fairtrade_2.jpg
Canadian supermarket, Longo’s is only selling Fairtrade bananas (Source: supermarketnews.com)

Conscious consumerism motivates more shoppers to reward companies that stand apart as a force for social good.

Lockdowns in Ireland sparked purpose-led consumption, as more consumers bought from companies demonstrating corporate social responsibility and small businesses. 36 O’Brien, Patrick. Leading eCommerce trends to watch for 2021. Irish Tech News. December 2, 2020. Also, Canadian supermarket chain Longo’s is the first North American retailer to commit to selling only Fairtrade bananas to support farmers’ rights to a guaranteed fair income while reducing environmental impact. 37 Browne, Michael. Longo’s becomes first North American retailer to offer only Fairtrade bananas. Supermarket News. May 6, 2021.

CPG takeaway: Brands can articulate what they stand for, over and above profit.

Popular products’ global appeal

By aligning with these global consumer trends, CPG brands can grow their sales by reaching new markets with e-commerce. As online shopping grows around the world, brands can seize the opportunity to target specific markets and underserved communities that already show a desire for their timely, innovative products.

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