Graceful Aging, Portion Control, Educated Consumers Predicted for 2006

Companies are exploring a vast range of innovation for 2006. According to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), more than 156,000 new products appeared on store shelves around the world last year. This number equates to approximately one new product introduction every three minutes in 2005.

"Globally we have seen a significant rise in variety of products," said Lynn Dornblaser, director of Mintel Custom Solutions, in a press statement. "Consumers are looking for more products that address their individual needs and this is resulting in more product offerings. There is a particular focus on catering to the aging consumer, specifically in the non-foods product categories."

The most active category in food and drink was beverages, carrying close to one-fifth of the launches, followed by bakery (12 percent) and confectionery (11 percent). On the non-food product front, more than 68,000 new products were launched internationally with cosmetics, skin care and hair care leading the way. Food experienced close to a 10 percent increase in launches from 2004, where non-food product introductions remained relatively level to the previous year. In the United States alone, more than 16,000 new food products were introduced. In addition, there were more than 13,000 non-food products launched in the United States, with cosmetics and skin care innovations driving the numbers.

Several new and evolving trends are predicted to impact product innovation for 2006. Age-defying treatments, increases in portion control, brain-power foods and customized products are all among the trends expected to make strong impressions on the consumer packaged goods industry. With the aging population experiencing global growth, companies have a key opportunity to focus efforts on this newly rediscovered consumer group. Displaced for several years by youth marketing initiatives, marketers are now banking on the senior market for non-food products.

However, age-focused food is a generally untapped area. Mintel recently tracked a couple of product examples that show the possibilities in the category. In Japan, home of the largest senior population in the world, new easier-to-chew foods such as Kameda Seika's rice porridge are being launched. Recently, Gerble chocolate biscuits were launched in Europe, claiming to be formulated for the dietary needs of seniors. Companies worldwide are battling with new antiaging skin care technologies, expanding on the massively successful category. Neutrogena and Oil of Olay in the United States have both recently launched home microdermabrasion systems, positioned as skin-renewing products but antiaging cosmetics are moving into “anti-tiredness” as well.

"Some new products are focusing on battling tiredness, a key trait that can actually accelerate the skin aging process," said Dornblaser in a press statement. "Products such as L'Oréal Europe's Infallible Foundation are claiming to resist against the signs of tiredness, which can be felt at any age. It presents more preventive versus reactive options for consumers." Portion control also is expected to grow among the new product ranks. The Kraft 100-Calorie Packs made a strong impression over the year, and Frito-Lay introduced the Doritos 75-Calorie Snack Pack in the United States. This trend is expected to move away from snacks this year into other food categories In addition to eating less, consumers are being treated to new ways to get their needed nutrients.

Several products that emphasize healthy "balance" have hit shelves, including Balance Pizza in Germany (touting reduced calories and added fiber). "Health is now a top priority for product developers," Dornblaser said. "As consumers embrace more organic and specialty products, mainstream consumer packaged goods manufacturers need to compete with products that promote wellness and overall care for body and soul."

As consumers get healthier globally, they also are getting wiser. Omega 3 fatty acid, said to enhance brain function, is making as strong showing in new food introductions. Several products are targeting youth, including iQ3 Brainstorm! Cereal and Fruit Bars in the UK, promoting concentration, mental function and eye health, and Nestle's P'tit Yoco Omega 3 snacks from France, claiming that its ingredients are essential for children's brain power.

Mintel predicts that added focus will be placed on more wisdom-producing products. In the non-food category, customized products are making a big industry splash. These products reflect the changing wants and needs of consumers, such as the new variety of Mademoiselle Bigoudi skin care products in France. Targeting consumers who want personalized treatments, each system is designed for the individual consumer's needs. The face creams can be customized by skin type or even specific protection, such as their Cigarette Smoke Protection formula. Even toilet paper is catering to individual preferences, with the Renova debut of black toilet paper in Europe. Outside of the home, men and women can get sex-specific scents from Ambipur car fresheners in Portugal.


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