In a report published by Mintel, UK beauty consumers have been named as ‘the most ethically aware’, with research showing them to be the most likely ‘to take ethical considerations into account before purchasing beauty and personal care goods’.
As a close second, 44% of Brits apply the same ethical considerations to buying in-home food and drink, while 39% make ethical choices when purchasing clothes or visiting pubs and restaurants.
Beauty is notably the most common area where people consider how ethical a brand is before buying
Jack Duckett, associate director of consumer lifestyles research at Mintel, comments: “Beauty is notably the most common area where people consider how ethical a brand is before buying. Much of this can be attributed to the sector’s focus on animal welfare and plastic waste reduction, two of the most important ethical issues for consumers today. However, it also reflects how both well-known and indie beauty brands are taking a forthright and active approach in tackling a broader spectrum of ethical issues, with brands such as Fenty Beauty focusing consumers on issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusivity, while The Body Shop has reignited its mission to end animal testing globally.”
The report also states that against the backdrop of Brexit, British consumers are increasingly backing the brands tapping into ‘the Holy Trinity of current consumer behaviour: the experience economy … the booming health and wellness movement, and the desire to be more ethically conscious and eco-friendly’.
Outlining declining alcohol consumption as another aspect of this propensity towards wellness and ethical living, Mintel reports that one in five UK adults claim they do not drink alcohol, with 47% of alcohol drinkers saying they’ve cut back in the past 12 months. As Brits curb their alcohol intake, ‘many are prepared to spend more on their drinks’, says the research analyst, resulting in premiumization which helps drive value sales, leaving the alcohol market at £21.8 billion. Another effect can be seen in the soft drinks market, which between 2013-2018 grew by 15.4%, with targeted ‘adult soft drinks’ among the biggest drivers.
More sophisticated packaging and flavour profiles … help secure a ‘grown-up’ audience
“The fact that so many Brits are cutting down on the amount of alcohol they drink has proven to be a boon for soft drinks brands. The industry has helped to further drive this demand by launching a raft of new soft drinks – using more sophisticated packaging and flavour profiles to help secure a ‘grown-up’ audience,” Duckett notes.
Minte’s report goes on to cover how the recent ‘media buzz’ around fermented foods has led to a wider awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy gut; 68% of UK adults say that actively looking after your digestive health is ‘essential to overall health’. This rises to 72% in the over-55s.
Given the heightened interest in products which support gut health, this is a trend which is likely to continue in the future
“Advocates credit fermented foods with providing various health benefits including supporting gut health, boosting the immune system and helping to control sugar cravings. The European Food and Safety Authority [EFSA] has not approved any claims for fermented foods, but that hasn’t stopped mass-market consumers from buying into the hype. Given the heightened interest in products which support gut health, this is a trend which is likely to continue in the future, with further new product development only likely to drive its appeal among consumers,” says Duckett.
The snack market, too, receives a mention in the report, with Mintel highlighting what it calls an ‘image overhaul’ in the pot snack sector. As a staple of the student diet, pot snacks ‘have seen volume and value sales rocket between 2016-18, rising 26.3% in value (from £179 million in 2016 to £226 million in 2018) and 17.4% in volume, fuelled by an influx of new products and brands’.
“The notable focus on quality, healthiness and authenticity in new product development has helped to drive sales in the instant pot snacks category in recent years. The strong convenience factor of pot snacks combined with an improved image – thanks to these innovation themes – is expected to sustain future growth for this segment.”