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2020 trends review

Five trends born in 2020 and heading into next year.

The events of 2020 caused a fundamental reset in every aspect of human behaviour, the way we worked and socialised have all changed. Below are the five key trends that have been accelerated in 2020 and will continue to grow next year.

  1. At-home indulgence

With 31 per cent of Australians still working from home in September and 30 per cent of us admitting to eating more treats to bring some joy, it’s evident why indulging at home has been and will continue to be a key trend.

Where to Next: Whilst economic uncertainty is impacting Australian households there is still a demand for super premium in-home occasions. Expect to see an increase is high end gift packages delivered over the festive season as well as a summer of premium picnics which are an easy way to cater for large groups and avoid restaurant restrictions. 

  1. Local hero

Offering relevant and targeted products that meet cultural preferences and local likes is now more important than ever. Woolworths has already taken action on this by launching Ethnic ranges in 54 of its stores that cater to the unique tastes of local communities. 

Where to next: We will see geo-fences appear around stores as well as competitors’ locations. Any shopper that enters these areas are sent tailored special offers and promotions through their smartphones. The result of a similar campaign in America saw almost a 5-per-cent post-tap conversion rate, more than three times the industry average.

  1. Private label

Nearly half of Australians are feeling cautious and worried and during times of financial uncertainty private-label brands tend to excel, as seen in Q2 of 2008 where private label outperformed branded products and grew by 10.8 per cent the previous year. Private-label brands in Australia have a 16.4 per cent share with plenty of room to grow when compared to the UK where private label brands make up 34 per cent of the market. 

Where to next: Retailers will continue to develop and launch their own brands and we can expect to see an increase in “Phantom Brands” products that are not overtly store brands, but rather premium private label, which most consumers won’t even realise are private label brands and as such a greater threat to manufacturer brands.

  1. Plant based

No longer niche. The proliferation of plant based continues to thrive, four out of 10 Australian consumers have stated that they are flexitarian and are continuing to reduce the amount of meat they consume.

Where to next: Expect consumer to move towards better for the planet alternatives, a key example is the growth of oat milk which has a national penetration of 3.7 per cent and is up 1.4 percentage points versus last year, driven no doubt by the benefit of helping to lower cholesterol as well as requiring less water to manufacturer than almond milk. 

  1. E-commerce

Eighty-four per cent of Australians shop online in some form and while food and grocery has previously been slow, the acceleration to digital stores has been advanced five years forward. Coles and Woolworths have both invested in additional distribution centres to keep up with demand which saw their combined online sales values grow by 32 per cent compared to last year.

Where to next: Expect to see more manufacturers build and develop their direct-to-consumer model, and the blurring between online shopping and entertainment as consumer packaged goods brands appear in popular online games such as Animal Crossing and Fortnite.

  • Justin is a lead consultant at IRI specialising in the Food & Beverage sector. IRI is the leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights for the FMCG industry.  For more information, visit


IRI Food & Grocery Market Moves 2020. 

Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, May 2020, September 2020

IRI analysis; Covid-19 Shopper Survey, April, May , August 2020, IRI Quick Poll