BUFFALO, N.Y. — When we rang in 2022, it marked the start of new laws and resolutions. It also marked the start of new trends. One thing that may have already caught your attention is new labels on grocery store shelves or in the breakroom’s vending machine. 

What You Need To Know

  • 'Diet' will be replaced with 'Zero-Sugar' on labels 

  • The phrase doesn't resonate the same with Millennials and Gen-Z consumers

  • Experienced-based purchases are also expected to become a hit in 2022

  • Successful online companies will move into physical locations

A New Year, means a new you, dieting, exercise, the gamut. As you work toward a change, so are major retailers, in particular beverage companies. 

“Words and phrases matter, in terms of consumer perception,” Charles Lindsey, associate professor of marketing at UB said. 

Lindsey says it’s like squid versus calamari or cash discount versus credit card surcharge. Turns out the word "diet" is a turn-off for Millennials and Gen-Z. 

“They’ll try to use terminology, phrases or words that are in alignment or similar to words that are already being used that have a favorable perception when it comes to taste,” Lindsey said. 

Enter the phrase "zero-sugar" in a vending machine near you. 

“They might see the word ‘diet' and think that doesn’t sound very tasty,” Lindsey said. 

The sweet spot of perception Lindsey says. 

Dan Giacomini, the Director of Brand Strategy with the Martin Group understands this well. 

“That change in language is definitely tied to bigger issues,” Giacomini said. “With soft drinks in particular, it really is about that growing consumer concern with sugar and healthy labels in general.”  

Giacomini says what it comes down to is, less is more. 

“Clean labels, sustainable packaging, less ingredients, removal of ingredients that consumers are becoming aware of.” 

Giacomini says Martin Group just helped Buffalo’s own Galbani Cheese launch a new product. 

“The big thing on the packing is four simple ingredients,” Giacomini explained. 

Changing terminology across the board is just one trend Lindsey says we’ll see this new year. 

“I think we will see more mobile offerings and pop-ups, those tend to trend really well with Millennials,” Lindsey said. 

Other 2022 trends to watch for...

Lindsey says experience-based purchases are also expected to become a hit in 2022. He says it wouldn’t be surprising if it leads to our own version of the roaring '20s. 

Another trend he expects is firms will expand their digital assets, and those successful online companies will move into physical locations. 

It might seem counterintuitive, as Lindsey says in-store spending represents 80-85% of sales. But online shopping only continues to grow, now at more than 15% compared to just 5% about a decade ago. 

But Lindsey says at the end of the day, it’s all about your convenience. 

“It’s that 360-degree experience for the consumer, where they can get the right product, at the right time, to the right consumer.” 

Another trend that we could see is more disruptions to entrenched industries. For example, companies like the Dollar Shave Club. It took an expensive razor market and made it more affordable. There’s no telling which industry will see this, but marketing experts say the options are endless.