How dairy can redefine pleasure and escapism in food and drink

David Faulkner, Associate Director of Mintel, explains the growing demand for indulgence and the opportunities for the dairy industry

09 May 2023

4 min

#Blog #All Categories #Global

In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant barrage of crises and stressors. From the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to political turmoil and environmental crises, finding a moment of respite can be hard. That's why indulging in something pleasurable can be a much-needed break from the chaos.

Mintel has identified Unguilty Pleasures1 as one of the eight global food and drink trends for 2023, which suggests that consumers are now seeking moments of pleasure and indulgence more than ever before.

Woman eating ice cream in outside setting

Reframing the narrative around pleasurable products

Pleasurable products have often been marketed as "guilty" or "naughty". This can be off-putting to consumers ─ even those who seek to adhere to healthy diets are looking for well-deserved, guilt-free respites. Mintel research shows that nearly half (48%) of Italian consumers agree2 that feeling guilty about their food/drink choices reduces the pleasure they get from them.

Therefore, building upon Mintel's 2022 Global Consumer Trend Enjoyment Everywhere3, brands can reframe the narrative around these pleasurable treats.

Rather than positioning them as indulgences to be ashamed of, brands can position them as necessary components of self-care. In Australia, 33% of consumers say they eat comforting foods to relieve stress4.

Woolworths Ayrshire Double Cream Apple Crumble Flavoured Yoghurt with Apple & Cinnamon (South Africa); Mintel GNPD

For example, Woolworths Ayrshire Double Cream Apple Crumble Flavoured Yoghurt with Apple & Cinnamon doesn't just position itself as an indulgent treat ─ it also emphasises its ethical credentials. The yoghurt boasts several claims, including being environmentally friendly with its packaging, made with recycled materials, and free from artificial preservatives. It's also functional, aiding digestion, and is suitable for those on a halal or vegetarian diet. Plus, the yoghurt is hormone-free and contains no additional additives or preservatives.

Cheese as a permissible indulgence

One particular area where this strategy could be successful is cheese. According to Mintel research, 54% of German cheese users agree that eating cheese boosts their mood5. By positioning cheese as a permissible indulgence, brands can target consumers seeking a pick-me-up. And by focusing on pairing cheese with other categories, such as wine or non-alcoholic beverages, brands can create a more down-to-earth message that appeals to a broader range of consumers.


Ashgrove's Cheese Selection (Australia) is designed for beer lovers; Mintel GNPD

Social media content (e.g. TikTok, YouTube Shorts) can also help make cheese more appealing to consumers aged 16-34 with tips on creating affordable cheese boards at home. For example, YouTuber Joshua Weissman (7.71m subscribers) shares how to re-create an inexpensive charcuterie board at home6.

Beyond cheese: New possibilities for heightening pleasure

Of course, it's not just about cheese. Brands across the food and drink industry should consider rethinking their positioning of pleasurable products. By doing so, they can tap into a growing demand for indulgence and embed themselves within the self-care process.

There are many other possibilities for heightening pleasure. Space has long been a popular marketing theme, and Mintel’s 2023 Global Food and Drink Trend Cosmic Comforts6 notes that it will become more tangible and profound with an increasing global focus on space travel and exploration.

Our research shows that 78% of US Gen Zs constantly worry about the future (vs 53% of US adults overall)7. The undiscovered novelty of outer space has a particularly unsullied charm for this demographic, and products inspired by space technology can bring transformative innovations to the dairy industry.

For example, Swiss Miss Funtasy Mallows Hot Cocoa Mix8 contains hot chocolate goodness sprinkled with colourful mallows for a fun treat for consumers with a space theme. It is said to be made with real milk and premium imported ingredients that give it a distinctly delicious chocolate taste with a smooth, creamy texture and an enticing aroma.


Capturing a growing demand for indulgence

Indulging in pleasurable products doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. Brands that recognise this and reframe their positioning of pleasurable products will be well-positioned to capture the growing demand for indulgence. In a world that's often stressful and overwhelming for consumers, providing them with a moment of respite through food and drink presents an exciting opportunity for the dairy industry to tap into.


David Faulkner

Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink

David Faulkner has had wide experience in competitive environments in the dairy and snack food industries. This includes being Head of Insights at two leading dairy companies. He has also held senior roles in innovation, brand and category management. David has a Business degree from Bath University and is a Certified Member of the Market Research Society.

The views expressed above are the opinion of the author, not those of Fonterra, and Fonterra is not responsible for any decisions taken in reliance on the same.

  • 1. Mintel 2023 Global Food and Drink Trends, November 2022.
  • 2. Mintel Food and Drink Big Conversation, Europe, February 2022 (content accessible to Mintel subscribers only).
  • 3. Mintel 2022 Global Consumer Trends, November 2021.
  • 4. Mintel Global Consumer, The Holistic Consumer, September 2021 (content accessible to Mintel subscribers only).
  • 5. Mintel Reports Germany, Cheese, November 2022.
  • 6. Joshua Weissman, $30 Charcuterie Board vs $130 Charcuterie Board | But Cheaper, September 27, 2020.
  • 7. Mintel 2023 Global Food and Drink Trends, November 2022.
  • 8. Mintel GNPD.
  • 9. Mintel Reports US, Managing Stress and Mental Wellbeing, 2022.

Receive the latest NZMP news, insights & updates direct to your inbox