With the next headline bringing worse news than the last, many consumers are seeking enjoyment in any place they can find it.

That means they’re turning to premium products, according to a new report from FONA International. The Illinois-based flavor house said consumers are adopting a self-care mindset, which often takes the form of treating themselves.

“Treating yourself with unique premium products became even more important during the 2020 pandemic when we saw more consumers talk about me-time as essential to their well-being,” the report reads. “That unique element may be a bar of single-sourced chocolate, hybrid produce, organic puréed baby food, or probiotic protein shake.”

Premiumization also gives brands an opportunity to innovate and diversify their product portfolios, paving the way for new unique flavors, sensations and experiences.

“Multifaceted and varied in form and flavor, premium products must be justified by their ingredients or processing, benefits and taste,” the report reads. “Whether it’s a limited-time flavor or new texture or sensation, premium products must ultimately deliver on uniqueness.”

Consumers also said exceptional quality and superior performance are characteristic of premium products, but younger Millennials and Gen Z consumers are more likely to also cite superior design and customer service as premium features.

Millennials are the largest buying group of premium products, and younger consumers are more likely to buy premium products for emotional reasons, going back to the self-care mindset.

“A self-care indulgence makes higher prices more acceptable as they align naturally with the ‘treat yourself’ state of mind,” the report reads.

FONA pointed to a few categories that have seen an increase in premium claims on new product launches between March 2017 and March 2020. New chocolate products with premium claims have increased 76 percent during that three-year period, while bakery launches have increased 28 percent. Launches of hot beverages with premium claims increased 16 percent, while processed fish, meat and egg products with premium claims increased 200 percent.

And looking at trends in new product launches, the Top 10 flavors in North America include rich, indulgent ones such as Chocolate, Sea Salt, Caramel and Roasted/Toasted. The global Top 10 contains similar flavors, but also includes Date, Mango and Hazelnut.

While premium products offer some escapism now, FONA doesn’t see this trend ending with the pandemic. 

“Premiumization is constantly developing — from big brands and small, from chocolate bars to dog treats,” the report reads, “and one thing we know is that this trend isn’t going away.”