|October 14, 2004,
as reported by just-food.com: British consumers
are spending more on comfort foods a total of £920m
(US$1.66bn) in 2003, according to a new report from independent
market analyst Datamonitor. It is a trend the analysis
firm expect to continue well into the future.
“As the pace of life increases, the role for
self-indulgence and treating in consumers’ everyday
lives is becoming more important, and self-indulgence
is a common way of combating the effects of stress,”
said Lawrence Gould, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor
and author of the report.
Datamonitor forecasts that consumers’ expenditure
on premium indulgence and comfort foods will increase
by 27% to £1.2bn in 2008, and the number of premium
treats per person per year from 50 in 2003 to 63 in
2008. For manufacturers, the treating occasion represents
an opportunity to capitalize on consumers’ desire
for quality over value-for-money by focusing new product
development and marketing efforts on the indulgence
aspects of products.
Chocolate is at the forefront
Chocolate is for many the ultimate stress buster, accounting
for 43% of total spent on premium indulgence. Categories
showing the greatest growth are snack nuts, juices and
bread. Although the market for premium snack nuts is
currently very small with an overall value of only £6.2m
in 2003, it is forecast to increase by 40%, to almost
£9m in 2008. Juices are the second fastest growing
category, with forecast sales of £151m by 2008.
Bread has also benefited from this self-indulgence trend
as consumers have rediscovered bread produced according
to artisan, traditional methods, with higher quality
ingredients. Many supermarkets now offer a wide variety
of premium breads from in-store bakeries. Sales of premium
bread are set to increase by a third, from £190m
in 2003 to £252m in 2008.
Premium snacking is a small oasis
of 'me time'
Stress and the subsequent need to unwind and relax
is one of the main drivers behind the increase in self-indulgent
food and drink consumption. Self-indulgent treating
fulfils a very important psychological function. Indulging
in a premium snack is a self-centered activity, a small
moment of relaxation, of “me-time”. Although
this applies to snacking generally, it is particularly
relevant to premium snacks, which have a higher focus
on indulgence, taste, and quality.
Manufacturers can take advantage of this by positioning
their products as rewards rather than simply as products
that provide functional and tangible benefits. This
blurring of consumers’ perception of what constitutes
a need and what is merely a desire is becoming part
of regular consumption behavior, which is a trend likely
to endure since people do not generally cut down on
necessities. This suggests healthy growth in this sector
for the future.
Gratifying the tastebuds takes higher
Despite the growing awareness of the health-related
pitfalls of indulgent-snacking, consumers are not generally
prepared to abandon the pleasure that they derive from
treating themselves. Whereas a higher focus on health
can inhibit sales of snacks overall, this does not have
the same effect on premium treating.
“Premium treats are not necessarily unhealthy
and at any rate are not consumed in the same volumes
as standard products. They are primarily selected for
their indulgent qualities rather than with any health-related
concerns in mind,” said Gould. However, health
concerns are limiting the growth in treating occasions,
although when consumers do indulge they now opt for
higher quality, more indulgent products – a “less
of the best” attitude.