Citing a surge in functional food and drink products on offer in recent months, the division of business information provider, Datamonitor, claims that manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the value consciousness of post recession consumers.
It explains that ‘value consciousness’ makes consumers more likely to assess a product’s total worth in relation to its cost, rather than simply seeking out the cheapest option. Consumers therefore see paying slightly more for a product which is significantly superior to a rival as ultimately more cost-effective.
Consumers trust big brands for complex science
“Functional benefits are a big ‘value-added’ concept because consumers trust the big brands more than private labels when it comes to complex science in product formulation”, said Mark Whalley, consumer analyst at Datamonitor.
“In a way, it is comforting to pay more because they [the consumers] believe it has a better chance of working” he added.
When it comes to beauty claims, Datamonitor predicts that soft drinks and water of the ‘functional beverages’ category will lead the way. According to Whalley, consumers have become conditioned to the concept of drinks as a ‘potion’ which can be formulated to have ‘niche attributes’ such as the ability to benefit the skin.
In the US, for example, an anti-aging drink has recently been launched which claims to purify the body with its vitamins, amino acids, electrolytes and antioxidant Resveratrol.
Yet Datamonitor envisages that the functional food market will be branching out into various every day products, referring specifically to the Khlebnyi Dom Kefir-Based Bread launched in Russia, which claims to promote health, vitality and beauty, as an example.
“Consumers have become more likely to purchase ‘alternative’ breads with various added seeds, so are clearly responsive to interesting product formulations” added Whalley.
Removing guilt by adding benefit
Alongside the notion of value consciousness, Datamonitor has explored ‘healthy indulgence’ as a prime driver of functional food and drink demand. Adding a functional benefit to a product usually considered detrimental to health and beauty can remove consumers’ feeling of guilt, according to Whalley.
“Chocolate or candy with beautifying functional ingredients can make consumers feel as though they are having a treat which is not too detrimental,” he added.
Noting the difficulty of marketing these types of products as being ‘overtly healthy’, Whalley added that “perception will change over time if the products work”.
Data from a survey carried out by Datamonitor in July 2010 demonstrated that while 44% of total respondents from 20 markets considered beauty food and drinks to be appealing, only 33% thought that general functional claims were trustworthy.
Whalley therefore warns that skepticism surrounding ‘nutricosmetics’ is still prevelant and that while manufacturers “should be thinking of how they can creatively incorporate functional ingredients into new product types, it is more important that they create effective products that work”.