Immunity benefit, ingredient transparency to fuel packaged consumer goods demand

Consumers are also likely to demand transparency in labelling of food and personal care products, looking for items that are chemical free and infused with traditional Indian ingredients, according to an India-specific study by NielsenIQ BASES conducted in May this year.

The researcher studied consumer preferences across food, home cleaning, and personal care products. NielsenIQ said this could form the basis of future product development for large, packaged consumer goods companies. For each of these categories, NielsenIQ BASES surveyed 500 consumers to evaluate 30 claims based on their relative importance and uniqueness.

“With the covid-19 pandemic some trends have accelerated, while consumer priorities have adjusted to the crisis. Consumers in India have put health first and 63% of respondents indicate that they pay more attention to a nutritious diet.

A year after the onset of the health crisis and with stay-at-home measures still in place, consumers are more careful about hygiene holistically, in the form of disinfecting surfaces (56%), or cleaning food items (60%) or washing hands (63%), the researcher said in findings of its survey shared on Thursday.

Demand for health and wellness products as well as cleaning and sanitation products surged rapidly in the aftermath of the pandemic in India.

While this has since cooled off, NielsenIQ expects some of these habits to stick as consumer perception towards branded daily goods undergoes a shift.

“We observe a high interest for ingredients that boost immunity, body strength and brain health, and can therefore help consumers achieve an all-rounded wellness, addressing not just the body but also the mind,” Vidya Sen, South Asia leader for BASES, said.

Sen said the consumer of the future will look more and more for products that will act on brain health, gut health and anxiety.

In India, for instance, when it comes to packaged foods, clean labels, holistic health and brands perceived as sustainable and socially responsible are the biggest considerations for consumers buying into these products.

“The claim of ingredients grown organically, without the use of chemicals and pesticides, ranks 1 out of the 30 claims tested. Meanwhile, 100% pure ingredients is another claim consumers find highly appealing. Ingredients boosting immunity, rank among the top ten benefits sought by consumers today,” it said.

While demand for health foods isn’t exactly new, the pandemic has only accelerated the trend.

This has prompted several large companies such as Dabur India, Marico, and Hindustan Unilever, among others, to amplify the so-called health quotient in their basic and existing branded packaged foods.

“Health through food is becoming a little less negotiable in the consumer minds and that’s where it is finding traction,” Piyush Patnaik, managing director, Cargill oil business in India told Mint in a recent interview. The company sells cooking oils under the Sweekar, NatureFresh and Gemini brands.

Among the top post-covid consumer trends observed by the company, demand for what consumers think is potentially healthier is high. “Consumers are clearly looking at more health and wellness in their baseline staples. The reason why it is happening is because there is fear (about their health post covid),” he said.

Meanwhile, demand for beauty and personal care products have seen a decline as consumers spend more time indoors. But a shift towards more personalised products with those offering holistic wellness is likely to drive future growth.

Among the top trends that consumers seek in beauty and personal care products include personalisation, natural products, sustainability, apart from products that offer holistic wellness. “With stress and mental health becoming front and centre in the last year, there is a greater focus on protection from pollution, immunity and total wellbeing rank among the top ten. This trend will get more visible in the way consumers will increasingly pick personal care products that support mindful and relaxing rituals,” NielsenIQ said in its report.

It also highlighted a growing appetite for ingredient transparency “as people increasingly refrain from using chemicals, parabens, and sulphate-laden products and look for traditional Indian ingredients, like kumkumadi, brahmi, turmeric,” it added.

Similarly in home care products, characteristics such as germ kill, effectively protecting even against the covid-19 virus and keeping the family safe from diseases top the rankings.

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