In the wake of COVID-19, consumers are re-evaluating their eating and drinking habits as they look to improve their health and immunity. At the same time, consumers are also becoming more conscious about the state of the environment, especially as they feel that this directly impacts on overall levels of wellbeing.
This is something that is driving demand for products that are deemed natural, nutritious, and sustainable, which in turn is driving demand amongst some for plant-based beverages. When it comes to such beverages, reassurance around affordability will be key.
What do consumers think about plant-based?
Over the period April-July 2020, FMCG Gurus conducted three waves of surveys across eighteen countries, examining consumer attitudes and behaviors when it comes to COVID-19.*
The research found that overall, 73% say that they are concerned about the virus, whilst 62% say that they have become more conscious about their overall health and wellness and 60% about their immune health. As a result of this, consumers are looking to make changes to their dietary habits to maximize their health. Indeed, over the period, a total of 79% say that they have looked to eat and drink healthier.
At the same time, a total of 56% of consumers say that they have become more attentive to natural claims because of the pandemic, whilst 41% say this when it comes to sustainability claims.
These are two claims that are often interlinked by consumers. The demand for natural claims relates to consumers wanting ingredients that they know and trust and offer nutritional value. The appeal of sustainability claims can be linked to consumers placing a greater importance on addressing environmental issues than ever before.
The appeal of these two claims, combined with a desire to lead a healthier lifestyle, has resulted in 23% of consumers saying that they plan to increase their intake of plant-based food and drink in the future due to the virus.
Of these consumers, 30% say that they plan to increase their intake of plant-milk. When questioned about why they will turn to plant-based alternatives more frequently, 57% said that they associated such products with being more nutritious, whilst 54% believe such offerings are more environmentally friendly.
Affordability is key
Whilst it is important not to overestimate the demand for plant-based beverages, or the longevity that consumers adopt plant-based diets, it does show that consumers see such products as a good way to boost their health.
This creates the opportunity for the plant-based beverage market to target health conscious consumers by promoting functional beverages. When it comes to the plant-based market, affordability is key, especially as 69% believe that the world is heading to recession.
Given that concerns around premium prices are often a barrier when it comes to seeking out better-for-you offerings, this is something the beverage industry needs to address to capitalize on consumers seeking out healthier and more sustainable offerings.
* Each survey series spanned 23,000 consumers over 18 countries