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    Value still key as cost-of-living concerns linger: survey  

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    Over half of the shoppers (56 per cent) identify “value” as the main motivator/emotion they feel when making a purchase, a new survey has revealed.

    “Comfort” (37 per cent) and “love” (23 per cent) followed in the survey carried out by Product of the Year and Kantar among 8,000 UK consumers.

    All three made the greatest incremental increases when compared to the same study carried out in 2023, in which the stats were up to 5 per cent lower for each.

    Consumers are turning to retail therapy for a wider range of reasons led by an emotional need, and this has only intensified in the cost-of-living age, the survey has found.

    Other buying motivations that featured in the top eight list include loyalty (27 per cent), curiosity (27 per cent), demonstrating ethical qualities (19 per cent), nostalgia (17 per cent) and endorsement from a friend/family (16 per cent).

    When asked what the most important factors were when trying a new FMCG product, gut health remained top of the trends for the second year, jumping from 31 to 37 per cent. Whole foods, probiotics and supplements have become part of a fast-growing trend within the wellness sector.

    Product of the Year’s research also reflects reports of tougher trading among vegan brands, with demand for plant-based products falling from 19 to 17 per cent among those surveyed. However, the findings suggest this isn’t a reflection of consumers rejecting veganism, but could have more to do with changes in the “omnivore” market, combined with a cost-of-living drive for lower-priced non-vegan basics.

    “The biggest growth group in the plant-based market is omnivores. People who aren’t fully veggie, but who are looking to eat less meat for health reasons and the planet,” Nicki Morley, Kantar’s Head of Behavioural Science, commented.

    “In addition, when an omnivore has a negative taste experience with a meat-free product, they avoid the whole category for, on average, a year! This could contribute to the drop in numbers.”

    Home-delivered food kits like Gousto and HelloFresh jumped up a few points from 11 to 13 per cent. Other trends, including No-Lo, Free-From, grooming, protein alternatives and CBD, all received similar rankings year-on-year.

    Consumers were then asked what the most important factors were to them when buying a product, with a well-known/reputable brand (65 per cent), products that have a positive impact on health/wellbeing (49 per cent) and how innovative it was (36 per cent) turning out as the top three.

    “Competition among consumer brands is incredibly high. On average, approximately 30,000 new products are launched annually – so how do you get cut through?” Helga Slater, managing director, Product of the Year said.

    “Insights like those revealed in our research show how important emotions are to every sale. Consumers care more than ever about their health, the environment, animal welfare and many other factors, and every year we see brands stepping up to meet those needs in highly innovative and creative ways.”

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