Essential Consumer Product Choices Are Influenced by Daunting Climate and Inflation Concerns

Consumer Product Goods Trends (CPG)

Consumer behavior can be volatile—anyone who has seen rows of empty shelves at the grocery store in anticipation of inclement weather can attest to that. Consumer reactions regarding recent inflation worries, supply chain issues due to the war in Ukraine, residual reverberations from the pandemic, and the continuous changes in workplace culture are showing in our data. 

Consumers Are Prioritizing Affordability over Tradition

Percent Share of CPG Category Online Behavior by Year (%)

Online Behavior of the Global ShareThis Audience in the CPG Category
Geo: Global | Time Frame: Jan 2020 – August 2022

Traditionally, the holiday season has been the busiest time of year for consumer-produced goods (CPGs) as gift-giving spurs increased buying. However, in times of less financial certainty—such as the aftermath of the pandemic—data shows that consumers prioritize the savings that come with post-holiday sales and New Year’s promotions over holiday timing. 

There were buying spikes in both January 2021 and 2022 as consumers waited until after the holidays to make big purchases. This is a sharp contrast to January 2020, when spending was winding down after a boisterous holiday season. 

With continued financial uncertainty heading into 2023, brands may need to adjust forecasts to anticipate a similar trend this coming year.

Grocery Inflation Worries Consumers

Percent Share of Essentials Inflation Discussion Online (%)

Online Behavior of Global Inflation Audience
Geo: Global | Time Frame: June – September 2022

Many products have increased in price over the last few years due to a variety of causes: supply chain issues sparked by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine; inflation brought on by economic stimulus packages; massive demand for building supplies with increased home building and renovations; and customers willing to pay more for hard-to-procure items. 

Data is showing that consumers are particularly concerned with rising grocery costs as 56% of online discussions on inflation and essential goods focus on groceries in particular. Online discussions around the potential rising costs of grain—as exports from Ukraine have been halted by the war—have been growing an average of 8% month-over-month since the war began. 

These concerns should be taken into account as brands plan pricing and promotions as consumers may be more inclined to bargain shop and deal hunt than ever before.

Recent Average Week-Over-Week Topic Growth (%)

Online Behavior of the Global ShareThis Audience
Geo: Global | Time Frame: July – September 2022

Data is also revealing key CPG trends. A current hot trend is increased interest in products that improve hydration. Electrolyte drink mixes show growth in engagement of an average of 18% week over week, followed closely by powdered greens at 15%. Eye drops are also seeing increased engagement, growing at an average of 9% week over week. 

Local, Everyday Products Are on the Rise

Recent Month-Over-Month Category Change by Year-Over-Year Category Change (%)

Online Behavior of the Global ShareThis Audience
Geo: Global | Time Frame: Summer 2021 vs 2022

Different products rise and dip in popularity depending on the time of year, but local, inexpensive purchases seem to be perennially popular. Self-care goods, such as hair products and toiletries, show low but steady growth both month-over-month and year-over-year, while edible consumer goods—like coffee and tea, candy, and grains and pasta—are also increasing. 

With the interest in buying local, the popularity of more community-centric locations like convenience stores, farmers’ markets, and grocery delivery services are also growing. This trend toward local may be further supported by FedEx’s recent announcement of shipping rate hikes for 2023. Brands may want to capitalize on this by emphasizing their hometown roots or partnering with more organizations already embedded in the local culture.  

Alcohol Preferences Are Shifting

Recent Average Week-Over-Week Topic Growth (%)

Online Behavior of a Global Alcohol Audience
Geo: Global | Time Frame: July – Sept 2022

The alcohol market is undergoing a change as partakers shift their beverage priorities. Our audiences are engaging on average 17% more week-over-week with canned alcohol, while bottled alcohol engagement is steadily trending downward. More consumers are reaching for wine blends than single varietals. Interestingly, there is a 13% average increase in engagement with dealcoholized beverages that keep the taste of popular beverages but remove most of the alcohol—perhaps due to the fact that consumers are more health conscious than ever, indicating an opportunity for brands built around healthy living. 

Environmental Concerns Influence Food Choices

Green Initiative Index by Audience

Online Behavior of Global Climate Change vs Sustainability Audiences
Geo: Global | Time Frame: July – Sept 2022

Reports about climate change are prevalent in the news, and many internet users are channeling their desire for change into making environmentally-conscious food choices. In fact, climate-conscious audiences are 8.7 times more likely to engage with content about going vegan. Our data indicates that sustainability advocates and climate change activists also show a higher than average interest in practices such as reusable and eco-friendly materials, thrifting and consignment, composting, and using organic foods and other materials. Month-over-month, our data shows an average 37% rise in concern over food supply due to shortages caused by climate issues like flooding and unseasonably high temperatures. 

As this group of environmentally-conscious food consumers grows, food brands will need to examine the environmental impact of their products to ensure they match market demands.

Exercise Is on Its Way Back to the Gym

Percent Share of Online Behavior by Year (%)

Online Behavior by Global Fitness Enthusiasts
Geo: Global | Time Frame: Summer 2021 vs 2022

When the world went on lockdown in March 2020, fitness enthusiasts had to make adjustments to how they got their workouts. Most gyms were closed, and restrictions like smaller fitness class sizes and mask requirements deterred many gym buffs as gyms gradually reopened. In 2021, just over half of online fitness audiences were more engaged with at-home workouts. 

However, this year has seen a rise in online engagement with pages related to in-person gym workouts, shifting engagement tied to in-gym experiences up to 62% and dropping home workout engagement to 38%. Consumers are also engaging less with fitness trackers and other wearables, with a 35% drop in demand indicating that fitness motivation was higher when we were all stuck at home. 

As people get out of their houses more, brands can use this as an opportunity. In fact, some malls are already capitalizing on this return-to-the-gym trend to increase foot traffic in their retail space.

Recent Average Week-Over-Week Topic Growth (%)

Online Behavior of a Global Fashion Audience
Geo: Global | Time Frame: July – Sept 2022

After years of primarily working at home, certain purchases are hinting that members of the workforce are commuting to work again. Oversize water bottles show an average 28% rise in engagement week-over-week (perhaps also due to the health trend around proper hydration discussed earlier). Laptop bags are also on the rise, and our data show an average 21% rise in engagement with Chelsea boots (practical for commuting) and a 12% rise in pearl jewelry. 

Conclusion

Our circumstances dictate the types of consumer goods we purchase. As life slowly shifts into a new normal, concerns like climate change, inflation, and war affect the way our audiences spend their dollars. Smart brands can use these trends to make decisions like shifting holiday spending to January, emphasizing local and healthy living, and capitalizing on people heading to the gym and commuting more often.

If ShareThis data can help you better serve your audience, reach out today to learn more. 

About the author
ShareThis

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.

About Us

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.