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Three consumer trends to watch out for in 2023

Three consumer trends to watch out for in 2023
From the cost-of-living crisis to a retro revival, we explore the consumer trends for 2023

As consumers settle into the ‘new normal’ and face a national financial crisis, their spending habits will change throughout the next few months. Find out what the experts are predicting for 2023.

Intentional spending and cost-of-living

Industry experts are predicting a big squeeze in the coming months, as soaring energy prices and food bills cause shoppers to think twice about purchases. 

According to Simon Moriarty, director of Mintel Trends, “Consumers are refocusing on what value means to them and spending more intentionally as a result. In a tough economic environment, consumers want to make smart financial choices without sacrificing their quality of life. 

“Expect a stronger focus on durability, flexibility and timelessness as consumers seek to buy less and own products that last longer and serve multiple purposes. As the market becomes further saturated with added-value claims, consumers will grow more sceptical and discerning.”

Jayne Andrews, marketing director of Fentiman’s, agreed, “It’s clear that consumers are changing their priorities in preparation for a tight few years, however, it’s encouraging that whilst there will be cutbacks, there will still be a desire to enjoy high-quality experiences.

“As we enter times of uncertainty and financial concern, it’s critical that we understand what this means for the industry.”

This is where fine food retailers can excel, offering provenance, quality and the ability to support shoppers’ local communities during difficult times. 

As Simon added, “With so much global uncertainty there will be a greater movement to protect local resources and boost local business

“This is a hangover from the pandemic, but also a reflection of consumers’ changing attitudes towards what’s important to them – a reconnection with ‘local’ is also a way for consumers to protect themselves financially, environmentally and psychologically, and feel that they are giving back in some way.”

Focus on health

Another key trend for the next year is that consumers will continue to be health-conscious. According to Fentiman’s 2023 Market Report, seven in 10 people (70%) are trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, a 6% jump from last year. 

As part of their health kick, one in seven (14%) say they’re buying healthier drinks than in previous years, and a half (50%) find no and low alcohol options appealing.

In fact, according to Becky Davies, head of commercial at Ten Locks, “No/low abv drinks are gathering pace and growing as ‘mindful drinking’ becomes more popular; young adults are choosing to cut down their sophisticated zero drinks intake, rather than cut it out altogether, while consumers overall are branching out and giving this part of the category more airtime. 

“The sophisticated zero drinks sector is booming as a result, albeit running the risk of becoming saturated in the process. The key for [independent retailers] is going to be stocking the right brands which act as beacons of quality to keep consumers coming back.”

This idea of focusing on your mental and physical health was also mirrored by Mintel’s Global Trends Report, as Simon explained, “In recent years, consumers have had a community mindset, putting their own needs on the back burner to prioritise public health and safety. People are now emerging from the pandemic eager to re-focus on themselves.

“Businesses should know that demand for mental health and wellness-focused products will grow as consumers look to understand their blind spots.”

Experimenting with ingredients and flavours
As consumers get into the swing of the ‘new normal’, they are seeking new and exciting ways to use ingredients and revamp the classic. 

Jade Hoai, executive leader of purchasing in the UK for Whole Foods Market, explained, “We are predicting that in 2023 we will see trends such as retro resurgences and new and quirky usages for ingredients like kelp and dates.” 

Retro products are being revamped with consideration for the wellness-conscious customer, creating the ultimate mash-up of throwback indulgences with better ingredients and special diets in mind. 

Dates are also having a moment. The craze for dates isn’t new — they’ve been cultivated and enjoyed since the days of ancient Mesopotamia. Now, thousands of years later, they are having a major renaissance as a sweetener—not only for at-home bakers, but also in the form of pastes and syrups, and hidden in everything from ketchup to overnight oats. 
Jade notes, “Since this is only the beginning for these trends, we’re excited to see which will be most enticing to our customers and make the biggest impact in the year to come.”

This is something Becky is also noticing, as she explained, “We’ve enjoyed seeing food and drink occasions take on new skin and new energy this last year or so. Likely helped by a lack of travel initially, and possibly the inability to recreate different cuisines and cultures at home, it’s positively impacted categories like Tequila, Sake, Baijiu and Shochu and firmly placed them on consumers’ radars in a positive way. 

“This trend feeds into a wider, “foodie” narrative working to draw consumers in. For example, placing supper clubs, premium pairings such as Banhez Mezcal & oysters, or newer wave trends at the forefront of drinks and experiences, like pickling or umami and vegetable flavours. The exciting bit is that partnering food with spirits is happening more now than ever – spirits have a big seat at the table.”