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Published March 29th 2021

The Big CPG Industry Trends for 2021

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry didn’t suffer quite such turbulent times as others when the pandemic hit. If anything, 2021 will be another year of positive growth for the CPG industry.

When uncertainty hits, we need brands we can rely on. The last year has required many CPG brands to step up to the plate. 

After such a chaotic year in which cleaning products and household necessities were flying off the shelves, what will consumers be looking for more of post-2020? And what trends should we be looking out for?

Trend #1: All eyes on sanitization

If anyone or anything could call 2020 a good year it would be cleaning products and the people who sell them. Everyone was in a rush to get their hands on any form of sanitization product possible. 

In our new report on the best brands for CX, we looked at a year’s worth of data for 15 different industries. In positive conversations about brands in the non-perishable CPG space, we found people talking happily about feeling clean, as well as comparing different cleaning products. Brand mentions in this sub-sector of CPG saw increased mentions in 2020 as people reacted to the pandemic and the need for cleanliness. 

In fact, according to Nielsen Research, for the eight-week span through April 25 , year-over-year sales of all household care items rose 45.6% across US retail channels. That included gains of:

  • 245.2% for aerosol disinfectants 
  • 229.2% for hand sanitizer 
  • 145.9% for multipurpose cleaner wet wipes

As we move into 2021, cleaning products will continue to be in high-demand. Consumers are much more concerned about the utility of these products than ever before. Brands with the right balance of efficiency and affordability will be favored, especially if these products boast natural ingredients.

Trend #2: Brands have to work even harder to win space on the digital shelf

Any remaining barriers to online shopping have crumbled down since the pandemic began, and big-time retailers that had invested heavily in e-commerce before the pandemic thrived in 2020.

Hesitant or unable to go to stores in person, people relied heavily on ecommerce, even in normally slow-growth areas of CPG. This allowed for new audiences to be reached online, especially older demographics, and seniors have done an impressive job of adapting to online transactions. 

In fact, a recent survey conducted by PYMNTS found that 21.7% of seniors and boomers plan to permanently shift to online shopping compared to just 11.8% who said they only changed behaviors temporarily because of the pandemic.

Heading into 2021, the online marketplace will be more saturated than ever before. Brands will have to work hard to earn their spot on the digital shelf. Businesses of all sizes that have yet to fully adapt to e-commerce risk falling behind.

Trend #3: Delivery options are front of mind

Speaking of delivery, in 2021 we will be seeing a continued Covid-19-driven rise in delivery options, including at-home, buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), and curbside delivery.

CPG companies need to transform digitally to take advantage of the “new normal,” which will continue in 2021 and potentially stick around for years to come.

A Deloitte study completed early on in the pandemic found that more than 50% of consumers reported spending more on convenience to get what they needed. Convenience was often defined by contactless shopping, on-demand fulfillment, delivery app usage, and BOPIS adoption. 

This expectation of convenience isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. If anything, in 2021 we will see more innovative options emerge.

Trend #4: Considering the five senses for consumers

In our 2021 Customer Experience Report, we found negative conversations relating to the taste of food and beverage brands in the CPG sector. Thousands of people compared products and talked about disliking the taste of big brand options. 

For non-perishables in the CPG sector, we found thousands of people discussing smell in a negative light. This was applied to all kinds of cleaning and hygiene products. Brands should keep a close eye on conversations like this if they’re considering trying new scents.

For CPG products, the senses can play a key role in purchasing decisions. And in such a busy marketplace, the choice between your brand and someone else's will come down to the details.

Trend #5: Savoring the special moments

For food and beverage brands, our report uncovered lots of positive mentions around occasions like birthdays, Christmas, and New Years Eve, with consumers naming the brands they like to treat themselves with.

In such an uncertain time it seems people continue to be drawn to making the special moments extra special. Holidays took on a new meaning in lockdown and in 2021 people are undoubtedly excited to stop celebrating in isolation. CPG leaders should ensure they have strategies and the necessary supply to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers. 

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