Mintel explores implications of changing consumer behaviour for food and drink


In Australia and New Zealand, over two-thirds of consumers worry that life will not be the same as it was before the pandemic, according to Mintel Global Consumer research on the holistic consumer.

A period of time that saw lockdowns, food panic buying and homes becoming offices impacted consumer behaviour in a multitude of ways, including food becoming more than a source of sustenance, but also a source of reassurance. Mintel’s 2022 Global Food and Drink Trends explores these behavioural changes, with insight and recommendations for food, drink and foodservice brands on how to incorporate the trends into future strategy.

Three key trends offer great potential for food, drink and foodservice brands: In Control, Enjoyment Everywhere and Flexible Spaces.

In Control

‘In Control’ explores how consumers are dealing with pandemic-induced feelings of uncertainty and now desire to take control in the ways available to them. Brands can empower consumers to do this within their food or drink purchases through transparent detail on their products.

“Consumers want more control over their wellbeing with four in 10 Australian consumers say that they check product labels (e.g. ingredients, nutrition) when shopping for food or drink,” Mintel food and drink analyst APAC Heng Hong Tan said.

“Food and drink brands have the complex task of conveying clear and reliable guidance so that a product will meet consumers’ health priorities. They can empower consumers to make the right health choice by giving clear on pack detail linked to dietary requirements.”

In addition to well-being, Mintel Global Consumer research shows that more than half of consumers in Australia (58 per cent) and New Zealand (59 per cent) agree that brands should show their impact on the environment on food or drink labels (e.g. carbon footprint, Eco-Score).

“Consumers will expect more transparency about a brand’s climate-friendly and ethical commitments. Brands can win trust with third-party verification or measurements via rating systems which, in turn, can also help consumers make informed choices,” Tan said.

Enjoyment Everywhere

‘Enjoyment Everywhere’ explores the notion that consumers want to break out of their confines and will have a newfound appreciation for occasions when happiness, fun, or playfulness can be found in everyday items and activities after enduring long periods of lockdowns. Food and drink brands are well-positioned to offer experiences that cannot be replicated online.

“Consumers will be open to food, drink and foodservice that engages more of the senses to trigger emotional connections. Food and drink that captivate the senses can appeal to the unexpected and the intriguing,” Tan said.

“At the same time, the metaverse offers a new arena for brands to engage with consumers. In Australia, three-fifths of consumers (60 per cent) say that they have played games on a tablet, laptop or desktop, according to Mintel Consumer Data. Brands can join the gaming trend and ‘game-ify’ everyday activities like cooking in the digital realm where consumers can connect or bond with another.”

Flexible Spaces 

The pandemic left consumers craving for human connection, which, at the same time, delivers them the convenience of online shopping. ‘Flexible Spaces’ explores how consumers have been forced to rethink their work and play spaces due to changing consumer lifestyles.

Blending the best of physical and online spaces will be key in creating spaces for brands to interact with consumers going forward. In New Zealand, 82 per cent of consumers say that they are buying food in person in a store.

“We will see retailers redefining their approaches to space and selling to accommodate a more diverse consumer base, facilitate deeper consumer-to-brand connections and unite those that share common passions in both physical and online environments. As technology becomes more advanced, these blended worlds will coexist more seamlessly,” Tan said.

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