Keep it transparent, simple and natural, counsels Mintel

Simpler, purer and more natural are the key product trends for 2008, according to new research from Mintel Global New Products Database.

As part of the research, which monitors innovation in the consumer packaged goods markets, experts predict a revival of ancient grains and salt on the supermarket shelves, more natural ingredients such as ‘superfruits’ in non-food products, mineral makeup, and a ‘tap-water renaissance’ – as the demand for natural, ethical and environmentally conscious products continues to rise.

Luxury brands remain high on the agenda, says the report, as growing numbers of affluent young professionals and empty nesters are looking to splurge on high-end homecare products, from ‘designer scented candles’ to ‘surface cleaners with beautiful packaging’.

The design industry will be affected by the future trends. Specifically, a predicted rise in ‘junk-free’ labelling, particularly on food and drink products, as Mintel experts say there will be a revolt against the incomprehensible minefield of additives, preservatives, colourings and flavours listed on the back of food packets – chiefly those targeting children.

According to the report, ‘In the food and beverage market, we will see companies finding ways to make their ingredient labels read more like home recipes than chemists’ shopping lists.’ Taking this trend one step further, Mintel says manufacturers will also increase transparency about the origins, production and packaging of ingredients in line with growing consumer concern with local food sourcing and interest in products’ origins.

Adrian Whitefoord, founding partner of design consultancy Pemberton & Whitefoord, believes ‘provenance is key’. He says, ‘These days, everyone is conscious of their carbon footprint, so locality is a driving force. People want to know which farm their products are coming from and whether they are environmentally sound – and for the packaging to reflect that.

‘The future of packaging is all about transparency. People want to see information such as salt content, calories and nutritional information clearly on the front of packs, as opposed to [appearing] in five-point type on the back,’ Whitefoord says.

Experiential shopping is the buzzword on the street for retail designers, according to Mintel, as stores respond to greater consumer demand for entertainment and stimulation in every aspect of life. Experts predict ‘multi-sensory’ shopping experiences with ‘more in-store dining and warmer lighting’ to keep shoppers interested, happy and in the store longer.

Bernard Dooling, founder partner of design and retail consultant 20/20, agrees that ‘engaging spaces’ are the future of retail design.

He says ‘It’s not enough to create nice lighting; you’ve got to start from the customer outwards, not from the design inwards. The future will be to create spaces in which customers can co-create the brand and help define the shopping experience.

‘Consumers are savvier and smarter than they have ever been, and this means retailers will have to collaborate with the consumer to ensure their longevity. Any retailers who don’t embrace that ideology won’t be around for much longer.’

Ten key predictions

• Junk-free foods, clean labels and transparency

• Tap-water renaissance

• Ethical and environmental concerns will grow

• A revival of ancient grains on supermarket shelves

• A new generation of minerals introduced

• Food ingredients in non-food products

• Luxury homecare products

• ‘Masstige’ personal care

• Faux genomics

• Experiential shopping

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