29 Dec 2021
What trends have shaped our industry over the past twelve months? In this 2021 year in review, we look at the most interesting shifts in the world of bread, patisserie and chocolate from a consumer perspective. Based on our worldwide consumer research and constant online monitoring, we’ve identified these 6 key trends within the nine overarching themes Ultimate Convenience, Next Level Experience, Taste, Craft, Freshness, Health, Hyperpersonal, Transparency and Ethical Lifestyle:
Haven’t heard of the phygital experience yet? Then now’s the time to get acquainted with this concept where the physical and the digital consumer experience is seamlessly integrated. This year we’ve seen more and more brick-and-mortar stores expand into the online sphere and vice versa with options for click-and-collect or home delivery.
While an online presence is a must, 77% of people would not like to see the end of stores in the street. This calls for a strategy that ties together physical shops, digital communication channels and the in-home experience of consumers. Make sure customers can see the art of baking in action at your shop like in the London E5 Bakehouse, where shoppers can ask the baker questions and people can sit down for a coffee as well.
By offering options for click-and-collect shops have tied online and offline together, often necessitated by lockdowns. But that’s not enough for the digitally savvy consumer. We asked what people expect from food retailers online, and this is what we got back:
While fresh food is still considered to be of the highest quality, due to the pandemic, packaged food is catching up. Especially packaged bread, buns and cakes have become more appealing over the last year. The packaging gives a promise of freshness, adds to the quality perception and gives a feeling of safety in terms of hygiene. In our survey, we found out there are three main indicators people use to determine how fresh a baked good product is. Those are:
Hygiene will continue to be an important trend for the time coming, which means packaged products will remain favourable. But bakeries should take note as well. Less than half of consumers (41%) think unpacked food handled by shop owners is safe. And only a third of consumers think unpacked food that can be picked freely is safe. Taking extra hygienic measures to reassure hygiene-conscious consumers will definitely pay off.
The number one criterion to buy bakery products is taste, which will remain the same. But over the last year, we have seen a spike in interest for bakery products that have looks as well as taste. Social media has sparked a trend of lavish treats that look good on camera, think interesting shapes, abundant sparkles and crazy colours.
Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are highly visual. Without beautiful, impressive or fun photos and videos, it’s hard to build an audience there. This focus on looks is further fueled by online shopping, causing 59% of consumers to agree that food that looks good to the eyes is tasty too. Especially younger generations are sensitive to the visual aspect and prize Instagrammable food experiences.
Consumers now know more about their nutrition than ever before, so health remains an important consumption driver. With good information available at their fingertips, a lot of people have become aware of how food impacts their health and which ingredients have a positive or negative effect on their well-being. In 2021, we’ve seen consumers on the lookout for food products that can improve their gut health and mental health.
The general approach to nutrition is becoming more holistic. We see increased attention to the ways in which food impacts both their physical and mental well-being:
Mental health is still growing as a health food trend, but already 63% of consumers say they look for food that delivers on mental health. And here we see the holistic health approach come through as well: 75% of people agree that improving gut health has a positive effect on mental well-being.
Some consumers look for food with ingredients that actively work to reduce stress, but the link between food and mental health doesn’t have to be that intricate. It can be as simple as eating chocolate when consumers experience stress or anxiety. This is no longer seen as ‘having a weak moment’, but eating chocolate or baked goods for a short-term emotional boost is now part of a well-balanced lifestyle.
Consumers are well aware of what they eat, 66% want to be informed on where their food comes from and how it is made. But Conscious Consumerism goes further than that. The conscious consumers also care about the impact of their food. Do the vegetables used have a high water usage? Do the eggs come from free-range chickens? And do coffee farmers get fair pay for their products?
This trend towards conscious and ethical shopping – fuelled by the climate crisis – can be seen in all sectors, not just in supermarkets, bakeries and pastry shops. Sustainability has become central to consumer’s purchasing decisions, as they seek to leave a better world for this generation and future ones. The most important focus areas for people who want to do good by eating good are: plant-based, organic, natural ingredients, local support and waste management.
Plant-based eating is becoming especially popular. 60% of consumers buy plant-based food and the weekly purchasing of plant-based food has doubled compared to 2018. Now, 30% buy plant-based food at least once a week. But opting for plant-based foods or a fully plant-based diet does not stem from environmental concerns only. The impact of food choices on one's personal health plays an important role as well:
Today food is so much more than nutrition alone, it is linked to identity and social relations. Especially consumers under 25 want to know about the companies they buy from, because what they eat should reflect who they are. So cater to these consumers by offering information on how your products impact the planet plus the well-being of others and animals yourself.
Having a rich online presence with social media pages and a website with information on products is expected. Consumers check online reviews and Instagram pages before visiting a new shop or ordering food from a café, so in order to stay relevant businesses have to be online. That’s where most of the shopping happens anyway.
The lockdowns over the past year have sped up the move towards online shopping as well:
The biggest challenge this trend brings for the bakery and patisserie industry is reassuring consumers that the freshness and quality of the bakery and patisserie products they purchase online are the same as those they buy in-store. So offer information on how your preparation, packaging and delivery times ensure super fresh products to enjoy at home.
Interested in specific data for your market? We also have detailed information on these trends for specific countries or continents. Get in touch with your local representative to get exclusive numbers about your customer base.