We’re about to turn the calendar page into a New Year, and while 2020 was a year for the books and one we will never forget, I look forward to 2021 and I’m excited about what it has in store for us all. Most importantly I hope that 2021 sees us start to move past COVID-19 and toward the new normal that is waiting beyond this pandemic, bringing with it several possibilities. The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry has seen so much change in 2020, and that will undoubtedly continue into 2021. After all, even in a “normal” year, CPG is not an industry to stand still for too long!
One of my favorite things about a new year is thinking about all of the innovations and creative developments that will come our way. Some will be surprising and completely out of the box, while others will be fresh takes on trends that have been building. It is just amazing to see CPG brands develop and launch new products, grow their business, and realize the dream that started them on this journey in the first place.
Key trends in 2020 focused on health and wellness, sustainability, and brands that showcase their supplier diversity. They were heightened throughout the year and will continue to be a focus for 2021 and beyond. If nothing else, COVID taught us that no one is immune to ill health, and therefore we have to be proactive and take care of our health. It also taught us that while we live in a very big world, the world is even closer now than ever before. We have recognized that we need to collectively take care of ourselves and our planet and future proof it for generations to come! With that in mind, and looking ahead to 2021, here are some trends that will shape the CPG industry that I am particularly excited about.
Proactively nourishing the body and mind
What I love about this is that it not only encompasses body health but mental health and wellbeing and looks at health holistically. 2020 has shown us that body and mental health go hand-in-hand, and have become even more important with the ongoing global pandemic, stay-at-home orders, and halt to life as we knew it. Having a healthy mind is key to overall health and wellbeing; translate it into CPG, and I see emerging products centered around calmness, sleep and relaxation. Likewise, for non-food products, I see innovation in hardware centered around these trends such as puzzles, arts and crafts, pillows, games, and more.
Sustainability takes center stage
We already see an increasing emphasis from retailers and consumers around sustainability, and I see this further cemented in 2021. This year has taught us that we are so closely impacted on a global scale regarding health and pollution, and we need to take care of our planet for the future. Over the past twelve months, we’ve seen an uptick in searches on the RangeMe platform for Certified B corporations, clean label project certifications, and biodegradable products institute certified products. So I think it’s inevitable that we will see sustainable ratings for products, the carbon footprint of products purchased, and the emphasis of local sourcing to reduce the impact of this to continue to be a focus in the next twelve months and beyond.
The gut is the gateway to wellness
We’ll see a continued surge around gut health as being the key to overall health and wellness. I see this playing out in pro- and prebiotic products across various categories, launching and driving consumer interest and consumption. While this was initially centered around vitamins, I see this trend exploding into more categories, such as dairy and snacking.
Continued plant-based boom
When we think about health and wellness and sustainability as key drivers, plant-based products play directly into these key trends. I see plant-based categories continuing to grow and innovate in 2021 as more consumers adopt plant-based eating regimes and buying habits. Some products that stood out this year, and what I believe will continue in 2021, include mushroom and fruit jerky, plant-based meats and beverages, plant-based biodegradable disinfectant wipes, and reusable produce bags, and even plant-based toothbrushes!
Transparency builds consumer trust
With information at their fingertips, consumers are savvy, and let’s be honest—they deserve to be treated that way. They want to align with brands that have nothing to hide, brands that are transparent with their ingredients, and brands that have an authentic story. This will continue to be an important marker for most brands and a driver for consumers and retailers.
I’m excited about these trends because it shows me how consumers’ values are shifting and how the industry is proactively responding. This past year has been an incredible learning experience for everyone, there are things to be thankful for, and the continuation of that will affect CPG for years to come.