January 12, 2024

The new year is bringing a lot of new stuff to the table. From how to approach health and well-being more holistically to cost-saving life hacks, this look at the latest trends can get you off to a good start.

We’re going through a polycrisis – is environmental concern taking a beating? 

The last few years have been turbulent for many people, between a global pandemic, wars, an energy crisis, inflation and a climate spiralling out of control. All these issues create a polycrisis, basically, a situation where many tensions and crises clash at the same time. 

Ipsos conducts research around the world to monitor trends and help companies make informed decisions. As Billie Ing and Matt Carmichael from Ipsos look at their latest research, one of the main tensions at play right now is between price, convenience and sustainability. And it’s leading to a perceived loss of value towards brand purpose and environmental concern.

“During this time of polycrisis, we’re seeing people’s priorities change. Things like the energy crisis and inflation have become more top of mind for people,” says Billie.

However, sustainable behaviours, like recycling and reducing food waste, have become a habit for people, which is crucial for the year ahead. Considering 2023 was the hottest year on record, serious climate action is needed.

“While many of us feel our lives are getting tougher, and as a result, our priorities are changing, it’s good to know that we’re adopting sustainable habits,” says Antonella Maccarone, Business Insights Leader at Tetra Pak.

“This is something that many brands and companies want to achieve, sustainability as a baseline hygiene factor. It’s vital if we want to solve the climate crisis.”

While the global economy was going well, people could prioritise what they wanted for the world. Now, however, many people are having to prioritise the things they need in their own little world.

“Climate attitude may have reached a tipping point, which is worrying for climate action. But the thing about tensions is that they shift over time, and while there is a shift today, it’s still a high priority for people,” says Matt.

3 out of every 4 agree that we are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly. And when they are able to, people are still keen to make the sustainable choices – so maybe we just need the sustainable choices to become the obvious choices.

“This is something that many brands and companies want to achieve, sustainability as a baseline hygiene factor. It’s vital if we want to solve the climate crisis. But it’s not simple. It will take systems thinking to tackle this because it includes every element of the supply chain. It’s a costly effort right now, both for brands and for consumers. But we have to get there,” says Antonella.

Life hacks and ’influencer’ brands 

People are working hard to adapt to the turbulent times we’re going through – and life hacks are becoming popular. This point stands out in Trendipedia, our biennial report on the latest consumer trends, which Ipsos also contributed to.

On social media, ‘food hacks’ have become popular, with influencers and people suggesting creative ways of reducing waste. Influencers on TikTok, for example, recommend using parts of fruits or vegetables that would usually be thrown out.

“People are trying to find workarounds to get more value for their money. In recent years, many people have sought out influencers and social media to learn things, and we’re now seeing brands say, ‘Actually, we can help you too,’ and I think that trend is going to be big,” says Billie. 

Mayonnaise giant Hellmann’s has been active with consumers, explaining how their product can be used to make a second-day salad. And we will probably see more brands move into the so-called ‘helpful’ space influencers typically occupy. 

“I think there’s a chance for brands to pick up on this trend and help customers, both with advice and by taking steps like right-sizing to help reduce food waste and re-sealing to maintain leftover products for longer. We also have customers where we help develop products with leftover waste from production,” says Antonella.

Brewers’ Spent Grain, for example, is a byproduct of brewing that is rich in fibre and protein. It spoils quickly, so every year, about 40 million tonnes of it mainly gets used as animal feed or landfill. 

”We’ve been working to make this side stream available for use in the food industry. We can now upcycle Brewer’s Spent Grain into a liquid ingredient, which could turn into the next generation of plant-based drinks,” explains Antonella.

We’re holistic human beings with holistic needs 

Then there’s the growing trend towards living healthy lives. The increased awareness about mental health that started during the pandemic is also a trend that’s here to stay.

“People are starting to acknowledge that we are holistic beings. We can’t just treat mental health without looking at physical health and vice versa. And we’re truly connected to the planet as well”

“People are realising that, just like there’s a connection between food and sustainability, there’s a massive connection between food and physical and mental health. As we’re seeing a growing mental health crisis, I think we’re going to see much more spotlight on foods that enable us to live with better mental and physical health,” says Antonella.

An example that’s becoming increasingly popular among consumers is functional nutrition beverages, which have offered specific benefits like immunity boosting for several years. Today, most of the innovation is focused on protein and energy, products that have traditionally served a niche sports segment. Now, with people looking to optimise their training, improve health and wellness and enhance their daily diet, they are becoming more mainstream.

It’s also interesting to look at some of the fast-growing emerging platforms, including cognitive health and skin health. With growing awareness of the connection between the brain and the gut, people want products that can help them maintain a healthy brain, stay focused and concentrated, and manage stress and anxiety. Skin health taps into the trend of ageing well and improving your physical appearance, and here there’s a particular focus on staying hydrated and ingredients like collagen.

“When we talk about physical health, mental health, the planet’s health, what we put in our bodies, it’s all happening simultaneously. But at the same time, we also have an epidemic of diabetes and obesity, an epidemic of hypertension and heart disease. The world is waking up to the role that food plays in all of this. All the processed food available to us and how it affects us. People are starting to acknowledge that we are holistic beings. We can’t just treat mental health without looking at physical health and vice versa. And we’re truly connected to the planet as well,” says Matt. 

And this is an area where brands can play a crucial role. Brands have the potential – and responsibility – to help guide people towards a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s a collaborative effort creating awareness about what’s healthy, educating, and helping consumers make the choices that can help tackle some of the world’s health issues. That’s something we want to contribute to,” says Antonella.

people eating sushi

‘Eatertainment’ and changing food cultures 

Food plays such an important role in the fabric of our lives. It’s not just a thing that we need to do to keep our bodies alive. And with new concepts such as ‘eatertainment’, for example, food is becoming more than just a meal. It’s becoming an occasion.

“We’re seeing lots of gamified experiences, creative ideas, people daring each other to try new flavours and combinations, people sprinkling insects on their salad to make it more exciting. I think it’s important to remember, as all these innovations emerge, how do they become part of our society and culture? How do we ensure they’re good for us and the planet?” says Matt.

It's a crazy world – but we might be doing okay

It seems clear that the holistic understanding of physical health, mental well-being, and how we affect our planet is all here to stay. And increasingly, people are realising the huge role food plays in all this: From the massive amounts of food wasted every day to the potential food has to boost our well-being.

“People are starting to understand that food and health choices are interconnected.  And despite everything going a bit crazy in the world, 73% of us globally say we’re happy. "

“We all seem to understand Greta Thunberg’s point about our house being on fire. So it’s a concern that unites us around the world, but now we just need breakthroughs that make the sustainable choices the obvious and natural choices,” says Antonella.

And the most positive trend, if you ask Billie? Maybe we’re actually doing okay, for the most part.

“People are starting to understand that food and health choices are interconnected. And that’s a positive thing for the future of our world in terms of creating happier and healthier people. And despite everything going a bit crazy in the world, 73% of us globally say we’re happy. I like hearing that,” says Billie.

If you're interested in reading more about consumer trends, check out Trendipedia or the latest Tetra Pak Consumer Index

Ipsos is a global market research, social research, and consulting firm in 90 markets with headquarters in Paris, France.  Ipsos has been named by GRIT for four consecutive years as the most innovative research company globally and recognised as one of the world's best management consulting firms by Forbes and the Financial Times.

Billie Ing is the Global Head of Trends and Foresight at Ipsos Strategy3, Ipsos’ consultancy division who partner with clients to discover, plan, and deliver sustainable growth. The Trends and Foresight practice that she leads supports clients in making sense of today’s volatility, anticipating the future, and shaping their long-term success. Billie also leads Ipsos’ Global Trends Programme, an annual look at the trends affecting human behaviour. 

Matt Carmichael is the Head of the Ipsos Trends & Foresight Lab and a specialist in demographics, consumer trends and urban issues. He combines foresight with insights as the founding editor of What the Future, Ipsos’ award-winning magazine. Within the global Trends & Foresight team, he contributes to the content, development, and activation of the annual Ipsos Global Trends report, which was recently fielded in 50 markets worldwide.

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