How to drive better consumer innovation outcomes in 2023

Our scientists and sector specialists have been analysing FMCG trends for 2023. They’ve landed on three innovation trends in consumer health, beauty and wellness, and the sustainable packaging of consumer goods.

1. Use data and diagnostics for personalised consumer health

Transformative data-driven developments will unlock new potential in consumer health over the coming year. In the longer term, this will also bring enhanced opportunities for personalisation across personal care, nutrition, and wellness.  

Data is the essential currency here, offering actionable insights into individuals’ needs. Similarly, as the scope of at-home diagnostics evolves and extends, people can be empowered to take greater ownership of their health. Together, data and diagnostics capabilities present a fertile ground for innovation.

Breakthrough developments will likely be rooted in technologies already proven in precision medicine applications. So, we might see the emergence of simple,

decentralised molecular diagnostic testing for use by consumers at home. Some outputs may point consumers to healthcare providers. However, there is much scope for personalised solutions related to diet, supplements, and lifestyle that consumers can engage with directly as the understanding of the gut microbiome and genomics advances.

Early movers on this trend could earn a position at the forefront of a reimagined consumer health market. However, turning market potential into commercial products and services is not straightforward. Companies will need to find ways to deliver tangible, measurable health benefits. Data and diagnostics technologies will play a critical role in both identifying individuals’ needs and evidencing how they benefit from health, nutrition and personal care offerings.

2. Strengthen the correlation between beauty and wellness

Along with the above developments, we anticipate further integration of beauty and wellness across personal care and cosmetics in 2023.

Recent years have seen much activity surrounding wellness and wellbeing in the nutritional supplements arena. This is now reflected in the beauty category too, with a new generation of functional cosmetics emerging. These products go beyond the inclusion of SPF or anti-ageing ingredients to encompass wider wellbeing and beauty benefits. Microbiome-skincare is a prime example. As this sub-category evolves, it will be essential to align innovation with regulatory insights. This can be a challenging area to navigate for products that walk a fine line between cosmetic and medical classification. (See our article in Cosmetics Business for more information on this).

Within beauty, new functional ingredients generated via processes such as precision fermentation are set to become key enablers. Meanwhile, mental health is evolving as a subject of interest in the beauty and wellness space, encompassing factors such as sleep and stress.

The data and diagnostics capabilities that underpin consumer health innovation will also be fundamental in deepening the relationship between beauty and wellness. It’s about building a more holistic understanding of consumer needs (c.f. telemedicine), and then finding meaningful ways to satisfy them.

3. Get pragmatic about plastic packaging in the consumer sector

Strategies to evolve FMCG packaging in line with sustainability goals will continue gathering pace in 2023. The reduction of single-use plastics remains a top concern, but a debate is emerging about the broader role of plastics in the future mix of packaging materials.

As the ‘reuse’ element of the reduce, reuse, recycle ethos gains more prominence, the benefits of plastics cannot be ignored. The inherent properties of plastics make them ideal for the safe and secure delivery of products to consumers. They’re strong, hygienic, durable, and – importantly – washable. In some contexts, reusable plastic packaging may have better sustainability credentials than single-use alternatives destined for recycling or composting. This is especially true when materials that would ordinarily be recyclable are easily contaminated by the products they contain. 

Developments here require a pragmatic and comprehensive approach, encompassing full lifecycle analysis, consumer behaviour and business modelling.

When we judged the Responsible Packaging Expo Awards, we were impressed with a number of solutions including a reusable plastic alternative to the disposable packaging used by restaurants and takeaways. Developed by recircle, the packaging solutions can be reused hundreds of times. However, as the company’s lifecycle assessment infographic shows, they typically outperform an average single-use equivalent after 15 uses in terms of carbon footprint.

Clearly, developments like this demand new commercial models, and success depends on consumers’ propensity to adopt new behaviours. However, as more countries legislate on deposit return schemes for plastic drinks bottles, we could see a notable shift that tips the balance in favour of reusable models for a range of consumer categories.

Download our whitepaper on strategic packaging evolution here

Taking personalisation and sustainability to the next level

Personalisation and sustainability have been trends which are shaping consumer innovation for some time, but there’s now an increased need to deliver meaningful, material benefits. Over the coming year, brands that push boundaries with evidence-led products and packaging will most likely achieve standout and loyalty. As the cost-of-living crisis continues, brands need to work harder than ever to earn consumer spend and demonstrate the value of their products.

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