“With constant evolution of channel, competitive and consumer environments, marketers are being forced to think differently in order to compete. Over the next decade, expect to see remarkable shifts in innovation strategies to accommodate a new age of conscious, connected and unconventional consumption,” said Jenny Frazier, SVP of Nielsen BASES (Booz-Allen Sales Estimating System).
So, what will the next decade of product innovation bring?
- Conventional product innovation is no longer about being first to market or delivering blockbuster innovation. Instead innovation today extends to identifying a brand’s larger purpose, for connecting with more discerning and fickle consumers. There isn’t just one path to innovation success. Successful innovation can come in many different forms—some could be disruptive game changers, while others could be launched to fend off competitive pressure, or with the idea of tapping into an emerging consumer trend.
- Brands will innovate in a heightened world of product disloyalty. Today, consumers are both bombarded and empowered by choice—and more disloyal than ever before. In fact, one-third of U.S. consumers claim to be less loyal to products today than they were five years ago, and nearly half indicate they are actively looking for new products. This presents a new challenge for legacy brands and products, but it’s one that bold innovation can resolve.
- Product packaging as we know it will be reimagined by 2030. Whether it’s refillable, dissolvable, plantable or even food waste based, product packaging will be reimagined by 2030. As consumers continue to prioritize sustainability, companies will not only remake the materials used to create their packaging, they will also leverage packaging as a vehicle to reinforce authenticity. For some, product packaging will stand as a brand’s badge of commitment toward a more sustainable way of living.
- Convenience with a conscious will emerge. Our on-the-go lifestyle has caused a surge in innovation within prepackaged, single-serve food offerings. Expect to see more innovation in this sector, especially within the fresh, refrigerated space, like locally sourced hard-boiled eggs for snacking. This trend is rising parallel to the backlash of single-use plastic and a movement toward increased sustainability. Nielsen BASES expects to see these trends cross, where convenience with a conscious will emerge. Innovation will need to push convenience-driven items like single-serve offerings (from product formulations to packaging) to be more sustainable.
- Generational preferences are breaking from tradition, marking an opportunity for innovators to rethink product norms. For example, there are interesting shifts occurring at the opposite ends of the generational spectrum. Baby Boomers are changing the script by keeping youthful interests, staying active and taking on aging like no other generation has done before. Meanwhile, Generation Alpha is being raised with more mature, sophisticated tastes—at least that’s the case when it comes to foods. Over the next decade, products geared toward older generations will be more youthful and products aimed at the youngest generation will seem more mature.
- Innovating for social commerce will rise. The era of creating photogenic products for Instagram and other social sites will certainly continue, but the rise of social commerce will push the envelope for product innovators even further. Over the next decade, companies will have an increased opportunity to create limited-edition, exclusive offerings specific for social commerce. This will create new ways to engage with customers, enabling even more personalized products for targeted consumers and social communities.
- Global textures and flavors will continue to inspire. Multicultural influences will guide the next decade of innovation, as consumers continue to look for culinary experiences. As seen in the mainstreamed popularity of food textures like Mochi ice cream and boba drinks—innovation in textures is prime for expansion. Additionally, new global flavor innovations will continue to emerge—stretching into new depths of spicy, savory and sour. Over the next decade, innovators will tap into more global tastes and trends for inspiration, meeting the growing consumer need for experiential foods. Movement from sugar allows for more flavors (sour, etc.).
- An increase in inclusive innovations will emerge. Product innovators will rise to the challenge to create products that are more inclusive, catering to consumers and communities across gender lines, abilities and ages. Brands also will return to a more binary state, with less concentration on marketing unnecessary, genderized, household products and an increased focus on efficacy and authenticity.
- Memorable brand mash-ups will continue to draw attention, some playing into the enduring appeal of nostalgia.
- Products will test the boundaries of staple substitutions. Innovation in plant-based proteins has upended the protein space. As consumers continue to show interest in sustainable substitutes, companies will continue to innovate in this space, expanding to new categories across the store.