Consumers today are more enlightened and empowered, with their behaviour being driven, in most part, by new technology and rapidly changing societal norms. Here are the top 10 consumer trends for the year ahead as forecasted by Euromonitor International.
By Ariel Chew
In 2017, consumers will be even more demanding than before, with a greater tendency to express and fulfil their needs through digital means, according to global market research company Euromonitor International.
Its annual report ‘Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2017’ offers an interesting view of how this year will pan out when it comes to consumer spending:
1. 50 Is The New 20
The focus, it seems, will shift from millennials to the ageing population of 50 years and above. This growing population of ageing yet active and productive people will significantly influence the economy by leaps and bounds.
More people are working long after their retirement age for reasons that include easing the financial burden on the family or to remain productive instead of vegetating at home. Middle-aged interns are a rising trend to equip the older generation with new skills.
Their continued spending power will be a springboard to consumer goods and services specially tailored to the elderly. From better hair dye to elderly friendly yet classy mobile phones, and diets to fitness equipment, the possibilities are endless.
2. Tiny Voices Are Getting Stronger
Parents are increasingly getting their children’s input in their purchasing decisions, including what to wear, where to have dinner and even which vehicle to buy. These “consumers in training” are being exposed to brands and can start a long-lasting relationship with them.
This growing decision-making power is due in some part to children adopting adult roles and discussing grown-up topics such as the environment, sexuality, identity and poverty. Children are encouraged to find their passion and pursue them, which empowers them further.
3. Catering for the Plus-Size Market
Euromonitor International predicts the obese population will form 42.7% of the population aged 15 and above in North America, and 19% in Western Europe, while Plunkett Research revealed that the worldwide plus-size market has an annual turnover of US18 billion.
Despite the growth in girth and numbers, larger than average consumers are still facing challenges in finding suitable clothes and shoes. This has led to the growing popularity of the positive body confidence movement and niche brands focused on plus-size apparels.
Airlines are also accommodating to this trend with Airbus’ latest adjustable bench seating in its aircraft, targeted at families, disabled passengers and also larger ones.
This stands for ‘I want what I want when I want it’. Consumers are getting more impatient and expect instant gratification. As such, brands are speeding up their business models and logistics, i.e., Amazon who is working on delivering purchases within 30 minutes using drones.
In September 2016, UK’s Sainsbury’s began its one-hour delivery of groceries and food by bike within some parts of London. Push Doctor, also in the UK, offers virtual professional consultations within six minutes.
Fashion is also on the fast-track with Ralph Lauren’s new women’s collection appearing on the runway and immediately available in his flagship stores worldwide. Fashionistas can also buy or order new fashion items immediately on Instagram from several designer labels.
5. Valuing Authenticity
Authenticity is one of the most lucrative key words to help sell eBay-listed items in 2016. Twitter and Facebook’s blue tick badges are proof that the accounts of famous people and media companies are verified as real.
Consumers are encouraged to look like themselves, instead of emulating someone else; and to pursue the authentic stuff, be it food, vintage goods or even character. And thanks to mobile tech, anyone can be a creator and publisher!
Papi Jiang, China’s leading vlogger, gained 44 million followers just by ranting about her life, which young Chinese city dwellers can relate to. Food trends are also getting more skewed towards real foods that are natural and organic.
Even holidays are getting a dose of authenticity. Think Digital Detox vacations where travellers leave digital devices behind to experience real-world holidaying.
6. Identity Fluidity
Stereotypes are getting to be a thing of the past with racial and gender identity in constant change.
More parents are opting for unisex baby names, people are refusing to sign check boxes that denote their race – preferring to be known by their nationalities, and more non-traditional gender roles and identities are being championed by society and media alike.
The fashion world is undoubtedly impacted. Chanel’s latest scent, Boy, is its first gender-neutral scent that works well for both sexes.
CoverGirl presented its first Cover Boy late last year, while male beauty bloggers giving make-up tutorials are taking YouTube and Instagram by storm.
7. Personalisation Matters
In 2017, consumers can expect more customisation options for mass-produced items. This is an opportunity for brands to establish a stronger relationship with consumers by making products that fit them, be it travel to books to fashion and even personalised learning.
Adidas’s app allows users to customise shoes with photos posted on their Instagram accounts. They are also developing a 3D-printed midsole technology. Nike has launched HyperAdapt 1.0, a self-lacing shoe that has digital sensors to conform the shoe for better comfort to the consumer.
The increased digital engagement between brands and consumers will give the brands greater knowledge about the consumers, thus leading to a better understanding on how they can serve them better.
8. Post-Purchase Experience
More brands are offering personalised after-sales advice and support such as personal styling services by fashion brands, or Toyota’s car dashboard app that prompts drivers to arrange service based on the vehicle’s service history.
Brick-and-mortar shops are providing the option to email receipts to customers as part of their customer relationship management.
Consumers are also increasingly turning to online reviews to make purchase decisions and share their experiences afterwards. Savvy brands would do well to respond to unfavourable post-purchase feedback quickly and to the consumer’s satisfaction.
9. Privacy and Security
Products and services that make the consumer feel more in control in the face of elemental and environmental threats will have great appeal. Increased air pollution has driven the sales of air purifiers, face masks and beauty products offering skin defence against air pollutants.
Furthermore, with most of our life’s data stored in our mobile devices, apps that can help safeguard our privacy will win the consumer’s confidence. WhatsApp has assured its users that “Privacy and Security is in our DNA” on its security screen, when it introduced end-to-end encryption mid last year.
10. Wellness Takes Centre Stage
Wellness and healthy living is trending as a status symbol now with more consumers openly flaunting their super-food laden diets, clean eating, luxurious wellness holidays, upscale “athleisure” clothing in sustainable materials and boutique fitness classes. Instagram is filled with toned bodies in yoga apparel doing downward dog in an exotic location.
Wearables such as fitness trackers continue to be all the rage, in most part because it feeds the competitive need to sharing one’s progress on social media.
Gyms that promote bespoke training and unique combinations such as BoxingYoga will have growing appeal. And with more consumers knowing how important sleep is in their lives, goods and services that help people sleep better will also score top points.