At any given point in time, there are really just two ways to increase sales:

  • You can try to get people to buy more of what you sell,
  • or you can try to sell more of what people are buying.

That latter approach drives many a product launch and line extension.

In 2014, our research found three areas in which consumers appeared to be very, very interested in buying. Smart manufacturers and retailers are responding quickly.

Here are the three areas where consumers’ intent to buy was high.


Consumers have grown positively obsessed with protein. The lust for foods high in protein is driving diet trends (Paleo), product extensions (Cheerios Protein) and entirely new categories (high-end jerky).

The protein craze is so powerful, in fact, that it has moved well beyond reason and into something more emotional. For example, consumers say they want more protein in their diet, but some 71 percent of them also say they don’t know what the recommended daily amount of protein is. Complicating matters is that the 29 percent of consumers who say they do know how much protein is recommended generally overestimate the size of that recommendation.

Most interestingly to food manufacturers and retailers is that nearly half of consumers report they are buying protein-enriched foods, and are willing to pay a premium for them.


Consumers have long been interested in smelling good. Historians know that perfumes have existed since the dawn of civilization. And even commercial deodorants are getting a bit long in the tooth -- the first of them, sold under the brand name Mum, was patented in 1888.

But the desire to be as pleasing to the nose as to the eye is now spreading across demographics and products.

We learned in 2014, for example, that a full nine out of every 10 American women now use a scented personal product. And the majority of women who use fine fragrances now also use a scented body product.

Men’s interest in scents in 2014 would likely have surprised earlier generations. Eight out of 10 men now report using a scented body product.

Furthermore, almost 80 percent of men who buy fragrances do so ahead of time, looking to avoid running out of their preferred scents.

And as we noted in “Three unexpected things we learned about Millennials in 2014,” Gen Y guys are driving much of the activity in fragrances.


Socks are the new power ties. The sock category outpaced the overall apparel market in the 12 months ending in August, 2014. And male consumers are driving the growth.

Guys are spending more on pairs of socks than women are, as the previously unglamorous foot covering becomes a fashion statement for image-conscious men.

The trend seems to be part of a larger shift in which guys are paying more attention to their appearance. Overall sales of men’s accessories rose 9 percent in the 12 months ending in May 2014.

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