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by the Brightfield Team

56% of Americans say they are often anxious and stressed out. COVID-19, money, and work are leading causes of stress across the general American population. Now more than ever, people need solutions to relieve this stress and maintain wellness.

Consumers are increasingly turning to wellness-focused products to improve their mental health or protect their bodies during times of stress. Brands have responded with new, innovative products to meet these needs.

That brings us to the biggest wellness trend of 2021: need state-centric products. Brands are increasingly offering solutions to specific consumer problems across product types. This trend is especially prevalent in the functional beverages category.

Consumers are drinking new beverages with specific effects in mind, and this report highlights two of the top trending need states: relaxation and immunity. We also identify emerging adaptogens and how they are connected to the larger need state of plant-based alternatives.

Trend to Watch: Need State-Centric Products

The first trend to watch for in 2021 is a shift towards products targeting specific need states. Need states drive purchasing decisions based on what a consumer desires or what they are lacking—aka what they need.

  • Brands are increasingly creating products to fill specific consumer needs.
  • Relaxation is a key need state with 82% of Americans agree that reducing stress is a priority.
  • Immunity need state is in the spotlight as consumers seek to proactively build protection against COVID-19.
  • Sustainability is the #1 need state among US consumers, with shoppers choosing eco-friendly products.
  • Community connection rewards companies who support social causes that uplift communities.

Sustainability Matters

Products that meet consumer needs for sustainability focus on environmental impact. Consumers do not want to feel like part of the pollution problem. Providing shoppers eco-friendly options gives them the choice to decrease waste.

Consumers aren’t limited to sustainable choices at select grocery stores. Whole Foods Market, Inc. and local specialty stores may have been the only place to find eco-friendly packaging 10 years ago. But now, big brands are bringing sustainability to mainstream shelves.

This reflects many CPG brands’ long-term sustainability goals. Conagra Brands, Inc. replaced their Swiss Miss® round canisters with recyclable cubes as part of its goal to use 100% renewable, recyclable, or compostable plastics by 2025.

Sustainability isn’t just for food and beverage packaging. Personal care brands are providing more eco-friendly options, such as L’Occitane, Inc. with its shower oil refill bags. The bags are made of less plastic than bottles and contain double the amount of product.

Finding Community Connection

Products that meet the need for community connection focus on making consumers feel closer to specific groups or supporting their causes. The use of certain products can make people feel like part of a community of users. A Starbucks™ coffee cup provides more than just a jolt of caffeine. To many consumers, it can make them feel like part of something bigger than themselves or bring a sense of elevated status.

Community connection can also come from the values of brand founders. McBride Sisters Collection is the largest black-owned wine brand in the US. It was started by two sisters—Robin and Andréa—with a goal “to transform the industry, lead by example, and cultivate community, one delicious glass of wine at a time.”

The brand empowers women through its wines. The Black Girl Magic collection celebrates the magic and resilience of Black women. The SHE CAN collection contributes to a fund that supports the professional advancement of women in the wine industry.

Trend to Watch: Adaptogens and Other Supplements

Consumers are drinking their way to wellness with functional beverages. A functional beverage is broadly defined as any drink with purported health benefits. Examples include enhanced waters, sparkling beverages, teas, and energy drinks to name a few. We took a deep dive into different types of functional beverage consumers earlier this year.

Both immunity and relaxation are in demand, as we discussed in the previous section. It turns out functional beverages are the category that is creating solutions for consumers in need of relaxation and immunity.

Relaxation and Stress Relief

Relaxation is a key need state for Millennials and Generation X who are busy balancing work with family. Beverages have emerged incorporating adaptogens and CBD to help consumers reduce anxiety.

Products that help consumers manage stress are appearing across categories, but this trend is especially taking hold in the beverage market. Alcoholic beverages, especially wine, already have a strong connection to relaxation.

Functional beverages are also an alternative to relaxing with alcohol. Consumer drinking patterns have changed with fewer occasions to enjoy alcoholic beverages during the pandemic. Many consumers are reducing their alcohol consumption but still want something to sip on while relaxing after work. There are a variety of drinks infused with functional ingredients that offer consumers an easy way to chill out.

Relaxation Beverages on the Market
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Immunity was a growing need state in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Shoppers of all ages—including older consumers—are actively seeking out ways to reduce their chance of illness in a holistic manner.

Immune-boosting beverages are popular as part of a daily routine. Orange juice is marketed as a great source of vitamin C, and immunity drink mixes like Emergen-C have been on the market for decades. Beverages for immunity are not new to consumers, but new ingredients and formulations have further expanded the options available. Immunity smoothies, teas, mixes, shots, and bottled beverages can be found with ingredients from vitamin C, turmeric, elderberry, and more.

Immunity Beverages on the Market

Trend to Watch: Adaptogens and Other Supplements

Trend to Watch: Adaptogens and Other Supplements

65% of Americans agree that functional foods and beverages can be substituted for some medicines. Adaptogens are increasingly making their way into functional foods, beverages, vitamins, and even skincare products.

Adaptogens are a category of plants and mushrooms that are thought to increase the body’s resistance to stress by “adapting” to what the body needs. Younger consumers are embracing adaptogens to address need states of holistic wellness, relaxation, exercise, and sleep. For example, among consumers who have purchased tea with adaptogens in the last 3 months, Gen Z accounted for 15% of this segment. Adaptogens are available in multiple formats including supplements (in powders, capsules, or tinctures), coffees and teas, ready-to-drink beverages, and gummies.

Filling the Need for Plant-Based Products

25% of consumers are in the “plant-based” need state. People adopt plant-based diets for many reasons, including personal health, spirituality, and sustainability. A quarter of Americans fall in this need state, but not all are following plant-based diets. 8% of Americans are vegetarian, and 4% are vegan.

Other consumers are looking to stay well with plant-based ingredients like adaptogens rather than lab-made additives. Adaptogens can fulfill diverse need states depending on how the product is positioned. Consumers are looking to achieve specific need states, so brands are already creating line extensions that aim to connect with consumers around a specific problem.

Adaptogen Products on the Market

Emerging Product Categories for Healthier Alternatives

Other key emerging product trends include:

Alternative Snack Bars

Alternative snack bars contain ingredients historically uncommon in the category, like meat, caffeine, or savory foods. These are typically used as a replacement for other, less healthy snack items.

Most of these snack bars are tailored to a specific diet—like keto, vegan, or gluten-free. Comparable snacks generally do not fit these diets, so alternative snack bars provide an effective snacking solution for these consumers.

Consumers of alternative snack bars are more conscious of their health. They are more likely to practice other wellness practices such as dieting or exercising. For consumers who do not follow a special diet, alternative snack bars are an easy way to get specific functional ingredients like protein or vitamin C. When compared to powdered supplements, alternative snack bars are a portable, enjoyable way to consume these functional ingredients.

Snacking Cheese

Snacking cheese refers to small, individually packaged cheese items, such as cheese sticks and cheese crisps. Cheese is often consumed as a replacement for other snack items as a healthy alternative because cheese is high in beneficial nutrients such as calcium and B12.

Cheese crisps are a great substitute for other chips with their similar crunch, but with healthier ingredients. Consumers who purchase snacking cheese generally integrate it into a wider healthy eating routine and tend to purchase nutritional foods such as fruits and vegetables more than the standard consumer. Like other categories, one of the major trends in this space is added functional ingredients—such as added probiotics and vitamins.

Shape the Future of Wellness By Understanding Consumer Needs

As in any consumer packaged goods, the customer should be at the heart of the product. Looking at consumer needs holistically is key. A relaxation drink doesn’t only compete with other beverages, but with the overall relaxation category. For new products to resonate, brands must consider what consumers really need—from the ingredients that tend to their needs most, to how that message will be best received.

Emerging functional ingredients and adaptogens are being quickly adopted in products outside of supplements. In the United States, consumers are turning to their food and beverage products for improved health and wellbeing. They want to control their mood throughout the day without the use of medical intervention or other unnecessary drugs.

A move towards a more natural lifestyle is shaping the wellness industry. Food and beverage products for consumer health include targeted functional ingredients for a variety of need states.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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