How 2024 Will Be a Watershed Year in Consumer Behaviors

Mintel releases "Global Consumer Trends" and "Global Food and Drink" reports
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Grocer and Shopper in store
Mintel's latest global trends reports emphasized the power of personal connections in an era of technology.

The first predictions for 2024 are starting to come out, and Mintel is among the early trend watchers. The insights firm released its "Global Consumer Trends" report and "Global Food and Drink Trends" report this week, covering many aspects of food and beverage production, consumption, and retailing. 

[Read more: “Shoppers Buying Private Brands for More Than Just Price”]

As it has in past years, Chicago-based Mintel leveraged its extensive data resources to identify movements in key areas like well-being, technology, surroundings, identity, value and experiences. The company’s “Global Consumer Trends” report identified five major trends likely to affect consumer behavior, as well as manufacturer innovation and product merchandising, in the coming year:

  •  “Being Human”: As technologies, among them artificial intelligence, expand and influence daily lives, consumers will (perhaps ironically) begin to appreciate aspects of the human experience, like emotions and personal connections. Accordingly, brands and sellers will use human elements “as a contrast to faceless algorithms.”
  • “More Than Money”: Price has certainly been top of mind with recent inflation woes, but Mintel’s forecasters note that value is important to consumers who have increasingly diverse ideas of what indicates “quality” in a product or service. This is where shared core values among shoppers, manufacturers and retailers come in. Private label is affected, too, as 78% of U.S. consumers agree that the quality of a retailer’s store brand is a reflection of a retailer’s overall quality. Mintel also highlighted the Heinz brand for its collectible sauce packet for all 50 states, “each one highlighting a regional delicacy from the state to bring Americans together rather than highlight what divides them.”
  • “Relationship Renaissance”: Tied to the human experience and values, this trend focuses on the importance of interpersonal relationships and social connections. Brands and marketers will be challenged to reframe self-care so it also includes connections with others. “Companies in the pet, fitness and leisure categories are particularly suited to this, as these are interests that bring people together. They provide conversation topics to help consumers develop deeper relationships and form communities with others who share their interests,” Mintel’s experts wrote. “Food, beverage and beauty companies will also find meaning in connection as they redesign solo routines — from morning coffee to evening skin care regimens — as something consumers don’t have to do alone.”
  • “New Green Reality”: Mintel’s trend watchers anticipate changes in traditional strategies focusing on “zero-sum” sustainability initiatives and toward continuous improvements and tangible solutions to environmentally related challenges and priorities. Brands can move beyond talking about reducing their carbon footprint to actively regenerating and “giving back to the world.” The report shared the data point that 60% U.S. consumers agree that many companies are just pretending to be sustainable and called out Lidl as a changemaker, noting that the retailer was the first grocer in the United Kingdom to introduce water bottles made from Prevented Ocean Plastic.
  • “Positive Perspective”: In a decade marked by uncertainty, Mintel’s forecasters underscored the importance of honesty in communications. “Brands need to steer away from their sanitized portrayal of reality and adopt a more honest depiction, presenting genuine products and services, with actionable information, that help’ consumers feel more grounded, reassured and able to deal with uncertainty,” the report suggested. Those who sell products to consumers will also be more prone to offer “self-betterment” products and resources to support people in adopting a resilient mindset.

Meanwhile, Mintel’s 2024 “Global Food and Drink Trends” report focused specifically on those sectors. Here, too, human factors in the face of technology and broader consumer perspectives are poised to affect CPGs, grocers and others in the food and drink supply chain.

According to this report, clear communications will be needed to help consumers learn how processed and ultra-processed food and drink fits into their diets. Another priority in 2024 will be healthy aging, and how to extend consumers’ healthy years. Mintel’s experts also expect a new era of convenience as technology continues to streamline meal planning, shopping and cooking.

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