“Whether or not the TTIP gets ratified in 2016 is something of a moot point, the media storm surrounding it will be enough to get consumers to think – and look – twice at their food, beauty and cleaning products as well as beginning to explore more natural alternatives,” says Mintel’s Senior Trends Consultant Richard Cope.
TTIP is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting multilateral economic growth, but it has also drawn criticism from a variety of NGOs and activists in Europe who believe it could have a negative impact.
Analyst Cope identified TTIP as one of the five key UK consumer trends set to impact the market in the year ahead, and says that although the agreement aims to make it easier and fairer to export, import and invest overseas; those that are opposed to it may opt to buy local and natural products.
“[TTIP’s] opponents believe that by reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, the treaty will weaken food safety law and environmental legislation, potentially flooding the market with genetically-modified processed foods, untested beauty products and produce treated with pesticides and growth hormones,” explains Cope.
“For some consumers, this will trigger a reaction where they opt to go local, go natural or go DIY instead.”
Research carried out by Mintel suggests that consumers in the UK are already striving for an all-natural lifestyle, with 48% preferring to buy natural and organic toiletries as they perceive that they are better for their health, while 57% say they do so because they are free from unnecessary chemicals.
“It is [Mintel’s] belief that these attitudes will harden across Europe, should consumers be faced with the spectre of more modified and chemically treated produce and products,” adds Cope.
Going forward however, Richard says more US brands may seek to counter opposition and remove certain ingredients to appeal to EU consumers.
“We’ll see brands react to consumer concerns by offering greater transparency in beauty and household ingredients,” he says.
“Also, a shift towards more ‘kitchen cosmetics’ as consumers seek to eat themselves pretty with those foods promoting their European or local purity credentials.”