Health was the main driver behind New Year’s Resolutions once again this January. This particularly manifested in enthusiasm for Dry January, with 1 in 10 people taking up the challenge. We also saw increasing numbers of people cutting back on meat, though fewer were committed enough to take on Veganuary and those that did found the challenge tough to complete. Meanwhile sustainability remains important to people but with inflation creating rising food prices, willingness to pay more for sustainable options is waning.
Dry January gathers momentum
A break from alcoholic drinks was especially appealing this January, with 10% of the UK population taking on the challenge and over half successfully completing it.
This collective drive for an alcohol-free diet may have been a consequence of people having far more freedom to socialise and drink with friends and extended family over the 2021/2022 festive period compared to the previous winter, making them more likely to embrace this January for a lifestyle change.
General health and weight loss were the most common reasons people gave for taking on the challenge and these factors were clearly motivating enough for the majority of people to maintain their dedication throughout the month.
Tried Dry January
Completed Dry January
Greater social freedom this January compared to the previous year would also have meant greater opportunity to drink alcohol at social events. However, instead of breaking their resolutions, shoppers turned to Low and No Alcohol options.
Low and No Alcohol Wine and Spirits saw strong year-on-year growth. However, growth rates were not so high compared to 2020, especially Spirits. This suggests that the Low and No Alcohol market may be starting to see some maturity after extremely high levels of initial growth, but sales will still continue to grow at more modest levels.
YOY Growth in Sales of Low and No Alcohol Beverages
Meat reduction trend continues but Veganuary is a challenge
In recent years, increasing numbers of people have taken January as an opportunity to try to reduce their meat consumption – reaching 38% this year.
While many people are keen to reduce their meat intake, fewer are willing to attempt a fully plant-based diet. 4% of people took on Veganuary as a New Year’s Resolution this year and only 1 in 5 completed it, suggesting that people found the task difficult.
Compared to the high success rates seen by those attempting Dry January, it seems that avoiding alcoholic drinks was a far easier task for people than removing all meat and dairy products from meals.
Health and environmental impact were the most commonly cited motivations for people taking on Veganuary.
However, since health is an extremely common motivator behind New Year’s Resolutions and relatively few people took up Veganuary, it seems the majority of people preferred different methods of improving their health this year, such as increased exercise or ‘easier’ diet plans.
For those driven by a desire to reduce their environmental footprint, this altruistic motivation was perhaps not compelling enough to keep up their diet change throughout the entire month.
Will enthusiasm for sustainability survive inflation?
Sustainability continues to be important to people as we move into 2022. In January, 69% of people agreed that they ‘cared personally about protecting the planet’.
Despite this high level of awareness, willingness to pay extra for sustainable products is steadily falling. As of January 2022, only 30% of people agreed that they would be willing to pay more for a brand that is sustainable.
Sustainability may now be becoming a hygiene factor for brands in the eyes of consumers and therefore not something for which they are willing to pay extra. It is also likely that increasing costs of living are causing consumers to re-evaluate spending decisions.
These falling rates of willingness to pay extra for environmentally-friendly products coincide with increasing concern over inflation and its impact on household finances.
As of January 2022, 45% of people believed that the general economic situation in the UK was likely to get worse over the next 6 months. When asked about their feelings towards personal household finances, 34% of people expected their situation to get worse. This is the highest rate of concern we have seen over the past 2 years since the first lockdown in 2020.
It seems that amidst these lower levels of economic confidence, sustainability may reduce in importance when people make their shopping decisions over the coming months.