Chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut’s recent trend research shows how consumer attitudes were impacted by COVID-19, and how already emerging attitudes have been accelerated.

Consumers are shifting between different attitudes, and as they do, they also look for different types of indulgence.

Barry Callebaut's survey on consumer attitudes was fielded digitally in August 2021 in Brazil, China, the UK, the U.S., and France, with 420 respondents per country. Barry Callebaut also analyzed data from other consumer surveys, especially from global trend agency ForesightFactory. It conducts yearly in-depth analysis in 27 markets into consumer needs, motivations, expectations, and behaviors to create mega trends, consumer trends, and sector trends.

Below are the main insights from Barry Callebaut’s 2022 "The Future of Indulgence Report."

Merging attitudes

For many years, consumer research from Barry Callebaut showed two attitudes toward life: one of Celebrating Life and the other of Living Consciously. In the past, these two attitudes were typically experienced at separate moments. Recently, however, Barry Callebaut sees these attitudes merging. By exploring this, the company discovered a growing need for Living a Symbiotic Life. This results in three types of indulgence that coexist. Depending on their mood or mindset, consumers have a specific attitude towards life and that attitude will determine the type of indulgence they choose.

 “While there will always be a need for intense and healthy indulgence, we expect consumers to live more with a soft health approach to life, increasing the mindful indulgence space," said Bas Smit, global VP of marketing for Barry Callebaut. "How these changes affect the indulgence landscape for the decades to come is what Barry Callebaut is focusing on.”

Celebrate life with intense indulgences

Celebrating life is about enjoying life to the fullest, turning the moment into something special and looking for Intense experiences. After the pandemic, one third (32 percent) of consumers say that they have been indulging more compared to one year ago (Barry Callebaut, 2021). And almost two thirds (64 percent) of global consumers say they need to find more excitement (ForesightFactory, 2019).

This mindset leads consumers to seek products that are a feast for the eyes and taste buds. When they want to celebrate or indulge, 75 percent of consumers choose something with chocolate in it (Barry Callebaut, 2021).

Live consciously with healthy indulgences

When a consumer Lives Consciously, they live a life that is purposeful and intentional. They make positive choices that actively impact their health, other people, and the environment. For instance, half of consumers have been taking their health more seriously compared to one year ago. And moreover, 44 percent of consumers have been eating healthier compared to one year ago, both according to Barry Callebaut’s survey (2021).

When consumers have this attitude, they seek out "healthy indulgences," meaning food for health. Out of the same survey, 70 percent of consumers would love a healthy-boosted chocolate.

Live a symbiotic life with mindful indulgences

A consumer might have different attitudes toward life depending on the circumstances and context. Until recently, the two different attitudes described above were typically experienced at separate moments. Now, consumers find these two attitudes merging, resulting in a new outlook on life: "Living a symbiotic life."

"Living a symbiotic life" is the sweet spot between "Celebrate life" and "Live consciously." Consumers combine their soft health approach with care for the planet and its people. They want to have the ability to indulge without compromising their well-being, the health of others, or the planet.

For instance, in 2022, 43 percent of consumers are influenced by general health concerns for choosing what to eat and drink (Foresight Factory, 2022). And almost three quarters (73 percent) are concerned about what they personally can do to help protect the environment (Foresight Factory, 2022). This is an increase compared to Foresight Factory’s research in 2021 in all but one of the 9 markets surveyed in both years.

This attitude leads consumers to seek out "mindful indulgences," products that are both tasty, good for them, and good for the planet. As Barry Callebaut’s survey also shows, as many as 81 percent of consumers agree that chocolate needs to be tasty and good for them (2021).

This evolution in consumer attitudes will become increasingly important in the coming years. By understanding this shift, the industry can unlock new opportunities in the world of indulgence.