For 40% of consumers, health is a key motivation for turning to dairy products, in which they associate dairy with ingredients that are rich in nutrition. The popularity around dairy products demonstrates that consumers value dairy as playing a vital role in an overall well-balanced and healthy diet.

Despite the market volume of milk decreasing across the last couple of decades, it still remains the most popular kind of dairy product. For instance, in 2021, 61% of consumers turned to fresh milk at least weekly. Importantly, the number of consumers turning to these products has remained fixed over the last few years, which indicates that while people have been working on improving their health through their diet, they are not necessarily cutting down on their intake of fresh milk.

Promote Multi-Functional Benefits

Consumers value dairy products as a key component to an overall healthy, balanced and nutritious diet. This indicates that consumers are inclined to continue consuming dairy, at a time when they are prioritizing nutrition and health. As a result of this, consumers are making greater efforts to seek out multi-functional benefits and claims on product packaging. FMCG Gurus consumer insights show that the most sought-after ingredient claims on dairy products are ones that contain vitamins (64%), calcium (58%), and protein (58%). This illustrates how vital it is that brands are providing clear ingredient lists and multifunctional claims on their products, to signify maximum efficacy, convenience, and value, along with evidence that transparently supports these claims.

Push the Boundaries of Premium 

Preceding health-boosting claims, the utmost important factor when it comes to consumer preferences with dairy products, is taste and sensory appeal. For instance, 73% of consumers state that they favor taste the most when choosing between different products and brands. It is important to bear in mind taste is something that consumers are unwilling to compromise on this, often irrespective of health and sustainability credentials. Due to this, brands must push the boundaries of experimentation in terms of flavor, incorporating premium ingredients for an indulgence in taste. This will ultimately attract discerning consumers with products that offer a genuine experience and treat.

As a result, brands should be attentive to both taste and health, reducing the need for consumers to compromise on either component.

Supply Chain Transparency

Across the last couple of years, consumers have become significantly more risk-averse. This has meant that consumers want to know more information about the products that they are consuming. For instance, consumers want to know more specifically about how ingredients were sourced, the process by which the product was formulated, and the process of distribution. For example, 73% of consumers feel that sustainability pledges are important when buying dairy products. As a result, brands must respond to this consumer need by engaging in storytelling and transparency across the supply chain. By doing so, consumers will deem these products and brands as trustworthy, safe and great quality.

Back-To-Basic Nutrition and Purity

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the eating and drinking habits of consumers. Many individuals have adopted a more proactive and long-term approach to their health and well-being, with one example being the incorporation of healthier options in their diets. This has resulted in a growing demand for back-to-basic nutrition, such as streamlined ingredient lists, as well as products that are associated with the notions of being fresh, natural, nutritious, tasty, and affordable. For example, on a global scale, 59% to 62% of consumers check nutritional labeling on a range of dairy products. As a result, it is crucial that the dairy industry is aware of this and responds by raising awareness around the beneficial and nutrient-rich elements of staple dairy products. 

Stemming from this health-conscious stance from consumers, their purchasing habits are becoming increasingly governed by attitudes of avoidance and moderation. This includes avoiding and moderating their intake of sugar content and certain fats, due to its association to health conditions like obesity and diabetes. FMCG Gurus consumer insights illustrate this through consumers significantly checking for sugar the most, at 60%, followed by protein content, at 59%. Also, consumers are avoiding unfamiliar ingredients, with connotations of artificiality and unnaturalness. Consumers are making connections between these kinds of chemical-sounding ingredients, with both a lack of nutritional value and as having a harmful impact on the environment. 

To combat these concerns from consumers, it is essential that dairy brands provide clean labeling, streamlined ingredients, the promotion of free-from claims, and connotations of authenticity and trust from recognizable ingredients.

Presenting Green Credentials

Leading on from the importance of using natural and less harmful ingredients for both consumer and environmental well-being, (stat) many people are incorporating more sustainable daily practices, in terms of their diet and lifestyles. One way that consumers do so, is by seeking out brands that reflect their attitudes and values. 80% of global consumers favor locally made brands that provide locally sourced ingredients. Therefore, it is crucial that dairy brands need to exhibit sustainability initiatives and strategies across the supply chain. This will include confronting the issues of carbon emission, packaging, animal welfare initiatives, and food waste. 

Plant-Based Products

It is important to consider the notable increase in consumers who are turning to plant-based products. For example, between 2019 and 2021, there has been a 16% increase in consumers turning to oat milk. Out of all milk substitutes, oat milk has seen the biggest increase, in comparison to coconut, soy, and almond milk. This consumer insight demonstrates the prevalence of consumers who have an avoidance and moderation approach to animal products, with the majority identifying as flexitarian. 

There is no denying that the plant-based market is likely to continue to expand. With this growth, great emphasis is being placed on health and wellness, environmental consciousness, and animal welfare initiatives in contemporary life. However, FMCG Gurus research has demonstrated that product categories, such as milk, are remaining static, rather than declining as a result of plant-based alternatives. This reveals that many consumers are ultimately switching between plant-based and animal-based dairy products. 

This article is based on FMCG Gurus: The Reinvigoration of the Dairy Sector – Report. For more information, please contact: