Mintel's Consumer Trends 2015 report is based on consumer surveys, analysis of a database that captures descriptions and benefit claims for new FMCG products, and the input of Mintel's global and in-country analysts.
Here we present Mintel's four trends for Southeast Asia. Please see "China 'mega trends' for 2015 include smart tech, pollution protection" for the company's opinions about key trends in China.
Trend #1: Functional foods
Much of the credit for getting healthy and going natural goes to Japan, which has legally defined “functional foods” and is one of the most advanced markets in the space.
There has been a 17 per cent increase in food and drink launches with functional claims in Southeast Asia between 2011 and September 2014 especially across milk, tea and baby formula.
However, when it comes to health foods, Asian consumers behave differently from those from other parts of the world. In Europe and the United States, for example, consumers choose their beverages based purely on the drink’s health benefits, ease of use, and price point. In Asia, there is a fourth factor to consider: localisation. Asian consumers identify with the ingredient, and it plays a significant role in their purchase decisions.
Don’t bracket Southeast Asia into one homogenous region, Mintel warned. Each country in the region tends to look at functional beverages from a different perspective. For instance, while Indonesia focuses on ready-to-drink tea, Thailand is a strong market for energy drinks.
“This focus on functionality is not going away,” said Jane Barnett, senior trend consultant. “It’s going to start becoming more impactful for products that are part of everyday consumption.”
Trend #2: 'Naturalness'
An extension of the first trend is the usage of natural products. Food scares in Vietnam and China, changing lifestyles and rising incomes have prompted consumers to return to natural, and often traditional, ingredients.
Mintel bets Naturalness will influence the type of ingredients used in formulations. This means natural sweeteners and natural colours will continue to be part of food innovations.
Within the first three months of 2014, as many as five juice cleanse businesses offering cold pressed, fresh, fruit and vegetable mixes have opened in Singapore. The detox movement in Malaysia has had its grassroots origins through do-it-yourself enzyme drinks.
Trend #3: Pollution products
The threat of pollution to humans will drive technological innovation and an increase in clean product launches in the consumer product space.
According to Barnett, the region will witness a lot more of this clean trend. “There’s a big focus on the pollution index level and what products can be used from a personal care perspective," she said.
Major brands including L’Oréal, H2O+ and Oriflame have recently launched products into the Southeast Asian market that claim to protect against environmental stressors such as pollution and UV protection.
Consumers are also embracing apps that scrutinise a product’s environmental credentials, and this concept is expected to grow in the food and beverages market. Expect consumers to care more about measuring food miles, about cleaning products made from ‘all natural’ ingredients and about buying into foods and beauty products that make ‘protection from pollution’ an actual product claim.
Trend #4: Smart devices
Southeast Asians are holding their breath in anticipation of the next wave of smart devices—from watches to ceiling fans—because they save time, money, promise convenience and control.
Increasingly, consumers are using smart devices to improve convenience levels on everyday activities, such as loyalty apps. At the same time, it’s important to note that smart devices needn’t be about health or home economics: they can be about aesthetics and ambience as well, Mintel said.