Consumers turn to chocolate products for a variety of reasons – including as a sense of escapism from their everyday worries and anxieties.
According to FMCG Gurus, some 40% of global consumers have sought out chocolate products that remind them of past and simpler times. This indicates that chocolate can often be seen to elicit an emotional reaction and to aid feelings of relaxation.
However, consumption of chocolate is often also associated with guilt, and as a result, chocolate brands are increasingly promoting guilt-free indulgence. As the data shows, consumers highly value chocolate products that are conveniently nutritious – FMCG Gurus’ findings highlight that 63% of global consumers find chocolate products that are high in protein appealing.
Aligned to this, consumers also value chocolate that contains energy-boosting ingredients. This highlights the opportunity for brands in the chocolate market to minimise feelings of guilt when consuming chocolate, and instead, through the use of functional ingredients, offer a nutritional boost.
It is important to note that while functional ingredients are of high appeal among consumers, it is essential that these are not over-promoted at the expensive of sensory appeal.
While consumers value healthy products, they also value moments of indulgence, and prioritise taste, so chocolate brands should offer products which balance these key product attributes and consumer need states.
Green and Clean
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the state of the environment and the impact of the food and drink sector on the planet's health, prompting a large proportion to make conscious efforts to act more sustainably through their dietary and lifestyle habits.
Importantly, consumer concern stretches beyond their concern for the environment and interlinks with concerns about how this can also impact their health. As a result, consumers are seeking out chocolate products that they deem green and clean.
FMCG Gurus’ insights reveal that 75% of global consumers value and find natural claims appealing in chocolate categories. The presence of natural, chemical-free ingredients in chocolate products will significantly enhance perceptions of value through their associations with health, sustainability and high quality.
As a result, brands should respond to the rising demand for authentic, real, and natural ingredients in chocolate products. In addition, with an increase in proactive consumers that are seeking out food and drink products that aid health and wellness, streamlined ingredient lists and free-from claims will also be of high appeal to consumers.
At a time of increased consumer scepticism, chocolate brands must offer transparency and reassurance to consumers.
With increased awareness around 'greenwashing' and 'healthwashing', consumers are wary of complex labelling and/or over-exaggerated health or environmental claims.
For instance, FMCG Gurus’ findings show that 51% of global consumers say they are concerned about hidden ingredients in food and drink.
Therefore, consumers are seeking reassurance that health claims and functional ingredients are trustworthy and reliable. As a result, brands must ensure that labelling is kept simple, clear and includes clinically-proven evidence to support any health or sustainability claims on food and drink packaging.
In recent years, plant-based products have moved beyond being just for those following a strict dietary plan, and have become incorporated into many consumers diets, including those who rotate between animal based and plant-based products – FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights reveals that 31% of global consumers describe their diet as ‘flexitarian’.
While consumers are more open to plant-based chocolate products, the wider plant-based market has seen a stagnation recently, as a result of rising costs. As a result, brands must look into innovating plant-based chocolate from a sensory and price perspective.
This article is based on FMCG Gurus: Health & Wellness Trends in the Chocolate Market. For more information, contact: [email protected].
Article by Kate Kehoe, Marketing Executive at FMCG Gurus