How Are Those 2020 Predictions Shaking Out?

New study from Catalina compares turn-of-the-decade projections and actual shopper behaviors
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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The decade's top CPG categories include plant-based alternatives, low-ABV adult beverages and premium pet food, Catalina reports.

It may seem like the '20s just started, given the bumpy COVID-19 beginning and the flurry of changes and challenges, but the decade is already a quarter over. Shopper intelligence company Catalina pointed that out in its new study highlighting the top CPG categories of the past two and a half years.

“We regularly take these deep dives into shopping data to help our retailer and CPG customers better understand what makes their shoppers tick, how their purchase behavior is evolving, and what products they are buying across other categories,” explained Sean Murphy, chief data and analytics officer at the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Catalina.

The study compared Catalina’s pre-2020 predictions to shopping intelligence gleaned since the dawn of the decade. How did those projections stack up?

For one thing, the data shows that the forecasted trend of plant-based eating has indeed panned out but is evolving. According to Catalina’s findings, plant-based buyers gravitate towards beverages made with dairy alternatives and are increasingly seeking out animal-free proteins. “However, many plant-based product fans are either flexitarian or members of households that enjoy animal-based products based on their shopping carts that often include cheese and organic frozen dinner entrees that contain meat,” the researchers concluded.

The rise of CBD products was also seen as a movement by Catalina and has led to a surge in new product development. Although the data shows that CBD buyers are buying and spending significantly more on CBD products at grocery stores than they did in 2020, many are shopping for those items online and at dispensaries. In addition, Catalina’s intelligence reveals that CBD buyers also tend to buy more non-CBD products aimed at improving their appearance, such as lip care, specialty face soaps and grooming devices.

As for other trends that emerged from the pandemic-defined early 2020s, the acceleration of premium pet food is attributed to work-at-home and learn-at-home lifestyles that spurred many people to adopt pets or spend more time with them. “As the offerings in the category have expanded, refrigerated/frozen dog food sales have grown. In looking at their shopping carts, buying more cleaning supplies continues to go hand-in-hand with pet ownership. Those who buy premium pet products are also more likely to buy easy-to-make snacks for themselves,” the report notes.

Other lifestyle-based behaviors are also shaping – and re-shaping – this era. Catalina’s intelligence confirms that consumers are “trading out” traditional adult beverages for pre-mixed cocktails and low- or non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits. At the same time, the data indicates that spitless, smokeless tobacco has posted continual gains, a move that may now be in limbo with the FDA’s move to restrict JUUL products.

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