Consumer Packaged Goods in 2022

Trends / Realness
Sandra Michalska
Feb 1, 2022
We all remember the images of empty grocery store shelves at the beginning of the pandemic, after everyone rushed to stock up on toilet paper and pasta at once. Ever since, the fast‑moving consumer goods industry continues to see people shifting their behaviours at an unprecedented pace. At Getty Images, we understand how images can impact attitudes and consumer decision‑making through our Visual GPS Four Visual Forces: Sustainability, Technology, Wellness and Realness1. We’re calling them Forces because we’ve found that they’re a powerful influence on the way people behave. During the last two years, the forces continued to influence the visual landscape across all industries, and the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) or Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) was no exception.

If fast‑moving consumer goods stayed essential to Europeans’ daily lives, the way they think, behave and shop has changed for good. So, how will this new consumer reality translate in the long run, and what does it mean for CPG communicators and marketers? We had more than two years to study what ‘the next normal’ will look like, and our ongoing Visual GPS study helps brands understand how those new consumer priorities will shape the visual language for CPG brands.
Sustainable Lifecycle is the New Selling Point
The events of the last two years continued to raise consumers’ awareness of humans’ influence on nature. If the increasing demand for sustainable messaging leaves no doubt, visualising sustainability through visual icons such as melting icebergs or reusable straws is no longer sufficient. Our research reveals that CPG European household decision‑makers are drawn to sustainable visuals that are vibrant, educational, and action‑oriented. Furthermore, Visual GPS unveils that consumers are more likely to shop with brands that make efforts to be eco‑friendly, yet the question is, what does this look like? As CPG marketers know everything about their product lifecycles, it is also important to show pre‑ and past‑product life. From ethical sourcing to local manufacturing, sustainable packaging to upcycling concepts, consumers want to see the sustainable journey of the products they buy, from its beginnings on farms to its upcycled afterlife.
Digital Transformation, Accelerated
Physical, digital, social, gamified or in the metaverse – in 2022, commerce happens everywhere and is faster and more seamless than ever. According to Visual GPS, 6 in 10 Europeans use mobile phones to complete transactions and pay for things more than ever before. Furthermore, with omnichannel commerce coming into focus, the need for digital infrastructure to support this growth also rises. At Getty Images, we see this reflected in the search for visuals related both to consumer experiences such as “online payment” or “omnichannel” but also supply chain innovations such as “data analytics”, “automatisation” or “machine learning”. However, illustrating digital innovations is always complex and multifaceted, especially in times of data conundrum. While nearly a half of European consumers value the convenience that technology brings, they also want more control over who uses their data and how. Brands can address this data trust gap with transparent visual communication, which also highlights the rewards and convenience that technology brings to consumer experiences. 
Proactive Wellness
Historically, wellness imagery has been associated with spa retreats, yoga centres or exclusive skincare programmes. But the events of the last two years and the feeling of health precariousness has made it clear that wellness goes beyond elite beauty rituals. From mindfulness to mental health at workplaces, our ongoing Visual GPS research platform reveals that the most significant shift in the wake of the pandemic crisis is that people now value their physical and mental health more. In polarized societies, health and wellness is a universal truth that all consumers believe in. Consequently, every brand should now think like a wellness brand. Furthermore, our research on popular visuals shows that wellness today is seen through a broader lens. Visual focus is now more holistic including physical, mental, emotional, financial or collective wellness that is accessible for all.

So what does this mean for CPG brands? First, capitalising on wellness means showing the holistic benefits of using a product. Second, the well‑being of your workforce is also becoming increasingly important to your brand’s image2. In the era of the Great Resignation, 8 in 10 Europeans will not support companies that are dishonest and unfair to their employees.
So think about showing your workforce outside meetings: socialising together during lunch, power napping or taking breaks from screens. The new era of hybrid work requires fostering new work culture, the one where the wellbeing of the employees is an integral part of the brands' external image.
Getting Real about Unconscious Bias
If sustainability, technology and wellness have all been strong areas of consumers' interest boosted by the pandemic, Visual GPS reveals that what moves them to action is invariably seeing people like them in the visual messages. Our image testing with CPG household decision‑makers shows that they are drawn to the authentic and inclusive depictions of people. The consumer goods industry is known for progressive messaging and pushing forward inclusive visions of society, and widely acclaimed campaigns such as Hair Has No Gender3 in the UK or Rexona’s Degree Inclusive4 that introduced the world's first adaptive deodorant—are just a few examples.

However, despite the industry's efforts to foster inclusive messaging, only 2 in 10 Europeans think that brands show a lot of diversity in communications. Furthermore, our research on popular CPG themes such as food, beauty or home care reveals a prevalent unconscious bias despite the progress in recent years. For example, women are twice as likely to be seen engaged in domestic activities such as cleaning or washing. They are also more likely to be represented alone in the kitchen eating or preparing salads, whereas men are more likely to be seen as hosts at celebratory dinners amongst friends and family. Trans and non‑binary stories are largely missed in popular CPG scenarios. Being conscious about bias is the first step to changing harmful stereotypes, and our latest research on bias within popular visuals for CPG categories shed a light on areas of improvement and gives you keys to drive a deeper engagement. It's time to get real about our unconscious bias.
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