NielsenIQ’s “Global Consumer Outlook”: Agility crucial in 2022

The pandemic may be entering its third year, but there are signs that governments are gearing up to living with Covid-19. NielsenIQ’s 2022 Global Consumer Outlook delves into consumer sentiment and spending, revealing how people will shop in the year ahead. With employment disruptions, supply chain breakdowns and varying recovery scenarios, the trends setting the tone for consumer behaviour in 2022 include:

  • Consumers will move towards an endemic mindset 
  • Virus variants will fuel different recovery trajectories
  • Inflation concerns will take a toll on consumers; prepare for continued global consumer spending constraints
  • New-found consumer priorities born out of the pandemic will not be compromised. Consumer prioritisation of health, wellbeing & financial security will take centre stage 
Source: NielsenIQ
  • Consumer spending intentions reflect a continued homebody lifestyle with cautious approaches intensified by inflationary pressures. Leisure & entertainment will continue to take a backseat against an ongoing Covid backdrop
  • Necessity will be a driving force. Consumers will bring added scrutiny on expenses that fall beyond priorities & necessities

For the full Outlook, click here.

Nicholas Hall’s Touchpoints: The NielsenIQ 2022 edition of “Global Consumer Outlook” is timely as we start to think again about a possible end of the pandemic. The NielsenIQ team concludes: “In the year ahead, agility will be critical. Retailers and brands that consider different trajectories and recovery scenarios will be better placed to address consumers’ changing priorities, states of cautiousness and increasingly constrained wallets. They must ensure their offerings can morph and resonate with how the landscape will continue to evolve in the years to come.”

One of the trends that we have observed in the USA, but not in other regions to the same extent, is a prioritisation of healthcare spend by consumers on products with tangible benefits. So for the first time in some years, we’ve seen more of the growth categories focusing on treatment than prevention. Is this a blip or the start of a longer-term trend? It’s too soon to tell!

An added complication is the weakness of the global economy and the predicted rise of inflation, which are putting more pressure on consumers, who in general will have to prioritise their shopping even more than in the past. So which consumer health products will they purchase in what may be a slimmed-down overall shopping basket? And a further knock-on effect may be a reduced interest in supporting sustainable products. The survey reported in our third lead story (below) is encouraging, but the practicality might be that consumers with less disposable income then before may not be able to prioritise these products, even though this remains their ideal.

These and many other issues are in the front of our minds at the moment as we begin to scope the 4th edition of our New Paradigms report (subtitled “A Return to the New Normal”) later in 2022.

Nielsen IQ: OTC pack size trends 2019-21

In this week’s blog, we share some insights and research from one of our partners, Nielsen IQ, on how purchasing patterns for OTC medicines have evolved in the US market over the past 2-3 years.

In 2019, prior to the Covid pandemic, all size ranges of OTC medications were growing 2-5%, with the larger packs slightly outpacing the smaller pack sizes. As the outbreak began, wellness concerns and “stocking up” behaviours increased, leading to accelerated growth rates of the largest sizes. In the back half of 2020, many shoppers were able use their stockpiled OTC medication purchases from earlier in the year.

Additionally, cold and flu incidence was low owing to less social interaction and the wearing of masks. As the vaccine has become widely available in 2021, normal activities are resuming but all OTC medication sales are down compared to the unsustainable growth of a year ago.

Source: Nielsen IQ. *Pain Relief, Upper Respiratory, Gastrointestinal, Sleeping and Alertness Aids.

The importance of extra large and super size pack sizes has increased consistently since the start of the pandemic. This growth traces across all the top OTC categories and to all forms of pain relief and sleep. The GI extra / super size gains are from liquids, while tablets are driving the CCA / upper respiratory growth.

The upsizing is also seen in shopping patterns. While there were 5 million less OTC medication shopping trips in 2020 compared to 2019, the number of trips in which shoppers purchased an extra or super large pack increased by 10.4 million (+3%), while smaller size trips were down to 15.4 million (-3%).

NielsenIQ Client Director Anna Mayo discussed Healthier Growth for OTC during our recent North American e-Conference 2021. If you were unable to join, contact us to purchase a recording of the session. Next on the agenda is our APAC e-Conference 2021 on 23 November. To find out more about either meeting, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.