2008: Eco-Marketing To Take Front And Center Stage

Next year, expect to see global marketers pitch consumers' inner ecologist. Sure, there are catalogues like Harmony and Gaia aimed at eco-minded consumers. But Chicago-based consultancy Mintel is predicting a raft of new products from mass-market companies.

The firm served up a list of consumer packaged goods categories that will see a big shift in the spectrum toward green. The Mintel Global New Products Database was developed by Lynn Dornblaser, senior new product analyst at the firm, and a colleague in London. They found that the areas that will see the most change are bottled water, cosmetics, grains and cereals, organics, fair trade products, luxury home care products and product labeling.

Mintel says tap water is having a rebirth because of consumers' awareness of the strain on the environment caused by those ubiquitous plastic bottles. What will grow in bottles are so-called functional waters, such as those with coloring, vitamins, nutrients, and flavors.

"What's new about water is that the degree to which we are seeing whole cities or just groups of restaurants saying they are not going to be serving bottled water, but tap water," says Dornblaser. "We are going to see a significant shift in terms of how consumers are thinking about water." She says the changes are benefiting companies like Brita and Pur--which make faucet-attached and free-standing filters--and machine-washable Nalgene plastic bottles designed for reuse.

Also, bad news for Marilyn Manson: consumers will eschew makeup for the natural look.

And, predicts the firm, product labeling will become more user-friendly as companies opt for product ingredient lists that don't require a background in industrial chemistry. Particularly in food and beverage marketing, Mintel predicts that ingredient labels will read more like home recipes.

Also expect a quicker growth in Equal Exchange and Fair Trade products, established in Europe, and of growing share in the U.S.

"The number of fair trade products is growing globally," says Dornblaser. "We are seeing growth in Latin America, and that's unusual--because normally, fair trade ingredients are coming from there."

She says Fair Trade and Equal Exchange products tend to be from very small companies, so distribution is small. "A couple of exceptions to that are Starbucks, and Unilever's Ben and Jerry's ice cream. They use Fair Trade coffee extract in products like their Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. That's how major players can get into it--using the raw material, but less of it."

Dornblaser adds that the direction of market growth for such products is niche markets first, then wider acceptance. "Organics started in natural foods stores, with small brands. Now even Kraft has organic products under the Kraft brand. Fair Trade starts with ethical brands, but as it begins to gain ground and popularity it will start to appear in mainstream brands."

According to the study, ancient grains like amaranth, quinoa, teff, millet and Kamut--which are the basis for several niche-brand cereals --will move from niche markets to mainstream, appearing in products from leading manufacturers. The firm says the companies will focus on the whole-grain nature of these grains and also on the fact that many are gluten-free. Expect to see more everyday products appearing with these new, yet old grains.

Also coming: sea salts and "place" salts like Hawaiian red clay salt; and flavoured salts will take more space on supermarket shelves, as will luxury home care products like scented candles with designer labels, dish soaps and surface cleaners with exotic fragrances and beautiful packaging.

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