Following on from the article by Daphne Kasriel-Alexander Euromonitor International Consumption Consultant,
Taking Back REAL ESTATE: THE SEDUCTION OF AUTHENTICITY, we have selected some excerpts from the main trends for 2017
Authenticity is a standout consumer value in 2017, heralded by everyone from changemakers and celebrities to supermarkets and chefs. Authenticity has been identified as the key word helping sell items on eBay in 2016, by researchers Andrew Kehoe and Matt Gee from Birmingham City University’s School of English, when looking at the most lucrative words used by sellers.Quizzed about the media circus surrounding his then relationship with Taylor Swift, Tom Hiddleston responded with “as long as you’ve committed to it with authenticity then you’re OK”. This emphasis on “real” crops up in numerous contexts. It is in Twitter’s blue tick badge signifying that the accounts of high profile individuals are verified as real, and in the winter 2016 glossy magazine ad for Amazon Fashion, “Don’t look like me look like you”, celebrating shoppers’ unique style. It is in the way consumers are curating their buying aspirations on pinboard-style websites, the girl-next-door persona of Chinese star vlogger Papi Jiang and in the book “Choose Yourself” from self-empowerment blogger James Altucher.
Visual culture in an age of digital communications is unsurprisingly at the forefront of discussions about the authentic. Social media and selfie culture have affected insecurity about appearance, exacerbating body dysmorphia in some. The newly reopened New York International Center of Photography now features images on both suffering and happiness flowing in real-time data streams, captured via webcams, video blogs, Twitter and Instagram. Projects include Martine Syms’s desire to express African-American life in the US in its entirety, through clips lifted from online videos of family life, police webcams and ads. The newest move of free-spirited computer academy Ecole 42 in Paris is its Art 42 museum, the first in France devoted to street art. With millions more user-generated images shared among consumers due to mobile internet and phone cameras, a number of brands are identifying consumers’ own photographs and incorporating them into their marketing material to make it seem more authentic and relatable.
Loews Hotels and Resorts in the US offer a #TravelForReal campaign with actual customer Instagram and other social media shots taken at its high-end destinations. “Because no one tells our story better than you: Stay with us and share”.
The draw of flawed is championed in recently published “Perfect Imperfect: The Beauty of Accident, Age and Patina”; the book, says publisher Murdoch Books, “Takes as its founding principle the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, advocating the beauty to be found in imperfection, impermanence and the authentic…without losing sight of the benefits of living in the 21st century”.
James Creech is co-founder of Paladin, a company identifying budding online video stars. He emphasises that amateurs can outshine professional content with authentic connections that make viewers think of them as friends. Experienced UK chef, Caroline Artiss, started posting videos of herself cooking in her kitchen on YouTube, and people tuned in from around the globe. Her videos are from the perspective of a single mother, short on time and money but needing to feed a family. On Facebook, the 3,500 members of “Le Greenwashing et les cosmétiquesfaussementnaturels” expose cosmetics falsely labelled as “natural”.
Home-sharing app Airbnb’s new Guidebooks feature lets owners share information about their neighbourhood’s attractions so tourists can “live like a local”. At work, entrepreneurs want to create a culture of authenticity to engage employees with touches like homelike spaces.
Ikea’s new “We Help You Make It” campaign tries to show “real people in real living situations that anyone could relate to”, says Leslie Stone, director of strategic services at Ogilvy & Mather, who worked on the ads. The scenarios mirror how the American dream has evolved to fit post-recession economic reality.
Food trends, particularly green-tinged ones, are a useful indicator of the focus on authenticity, with many revolving around what constitutes “natural”. They are part of consumer eagerness to make more considered purchasing decisions, buying from “responsible” brands that sell them quality products with real value.
In a backlash against digital dependency and the difficulty of uninterrupted reflection, several tour operators, cruise lines and resorts are promoting their unplugged vacations to help consumers get away from “synthetic” digital life.
Urban hotels helping guests switch off include Renaissance Pittsburgh hotel, offering a family digital detox package letting guests exchange their devices for traditional board games.
IDENTITY IN FLUX
The nature of identity itself is in flux. The tension between global and local, part of the consumer trends landscape for some time, has been highlighted by the migrant crisis, which questions national identity.
Gendered identity continues to be the subject of public debate, with discussions focussed on a post-gender world. Diversity is not just theoretical; brands are being forced to rethink just who their audiences really are, within countries and in different countries, and how they interact with each other.
Airbnb sent an email to its members informing them they need to declare themselves prejudice-free to continue hosting or renting with the service.
For Airbnb, trust and a prejudice-free ethos are key values in its rentals enterprise, and it refers to itself as a “community” rather than a business.
Identity is a hot topic
Activist Rachel Doležal’s self-identification as “black”, for instance, brought the idea of racial fluidity to the fore. She has compared herself to Caitlyn Jenner, claiming race is “not coded in your DNA” and should be viewed like gender or religion. Her memoir “In Full Color: Finding my place in a black and white world” is due out in March 2017. “The Worldwide Tribe” is the name of an organisation raising awareness of and aid for refugees by social humanitarian Jaz O’Hara, stressing a global rather than national human identity.
The new Vogue Arabia, aimed at fashion-conscious women in 22 Arab countries, can be seen as the latest statement from Muslim women demanding global recognition for their culture and economic clout. In November 2016, CoverGirl announced that it had signed its first ambassador in a Hijab, Colorado native and mother NuraAfia, 24, whose online beauty tutorials for observant Muslim women have 13 million views. This follows on from L’Oréal’s decision to sign British blogger Amena Khan in summer 2016. These appointments recognise that consumers want to see people like themselves as well as their lifestyles reflected back to them by the beauty industry.
The search for a new editor to cover gender issues at the New York Times is a reflection of just how much topics like gender fluidity, sexual identity and their expression in culture and consumption feature in the global conversation. Marketers have reported gender neutrality as a selling point for millennials, who have been raised in a climate of growing economic opportunities for women and with greater tolerance for non-traditional gender roles and identities.
We hear actress Renee Zellweger emphasising that single and childless women shouldn’t be made to feel incomplete.
Chanel’s newest fragrance, Boy, for him and for her, is the first gender-neutral scent from the fashion house.
Make-up tutorials from men are trending. Skelotim, a.k.a. Tim Owens, is one of several men who have joined the female-led world of YouTube and Instagram make-up artistry. In mid-October 2016, CoverGirl featured its first Cover Boy, seventeen-year-old James Charles, who has a huge Instagram following. Another “beauty boy” is Manny Gutierrez, posting make-up tutorials, advertising for Maybelline and featured on People Magazine’s Ones to Watch.
An aspiration towards altruism and a smaller ego, or “we before me”, prevails, particularly among younger consumers. This peer-to-peer trend sees a new cooperative paradigm among emerging artists and entrepreneurs and is apparent in French fashion label Vetements, describing itself as a “collective” and presenting a joint collection with other brands.
In 2017, we will have come to accept the idea that an industrally-produced product can be customised or personalised, at least in part. While there is a lot more personalisation of “mass-produced” items, high-end personalisation is also thriving due to demand for “experiential luxury”, the shift from “having to being”.
Brands are also looking to strengthen the brand / client relationship through the emotions they can arouse by making things “personal”.
Products that fit you
The use of “proximity-sensitive” technologies in the form of signs beacons near consumer phones is also being boosted as messages become more personalized through greater knowledge of consumer preferences.
Subscription services: Curated by you
Subscription services, delivering selections of products directly to consumer homes, capitalise on consumer trends like self-treating and convenience, but their success is also likely due to the personalised nature of their offerings. Consumers around the globe have been captivated by these considered picks of everything from skincare products, pet treats, gaming and razors to meal kits with pre-measured ingredients and recipes. Many subscription services are positioning themselves as curators, selecting the new-release, “greener” or best value products they feel will best please their clients, with help from bloggers and fashion magazines.
In 2017, shoppers will be paying more attention to their post-purchase experience, increasingly an important part of the value offer of a product or service. With consumer customer service expectations raised, brand willingness to address post-purchase queries and complaints will influence whether a consumer recommends or criticises it to fellow consumers and considers a repeat purchase.
Post-purchase tech support is something customers have come to expect and is set to grow with smart devices, as more products for smart homes are expected to have their own “digital profile” that helps sustain the consumer / brand connection. More businesses are offering personalised advice and support with purchase.
Longer post-purchase stories
One side effect of the reduced emphasis on materialism and the green consciousness of consumers is the greater willingness to buy used items. Durability makes for a very positive post purchase experience. Tired of throwaway culture in 2016, sustainability-minded Londoner Tara Button launched website Buy Me Once. It offers her curated selection of goods that come with a lifetime guarantee or offer of free repair. Openness to recycling, repairing and reusing—to mend, not end—sees movement against “planned obsolescence”, the criticised practice of designing products with restricted life spans to ensure consumers will buy more, formalised in policy.
PRIVACY AND SECURITY
In our volatile world, consumers are anxious to stay safe and well. The focus is on personal safety and that of loved ones. There is a greater leaning towards home and mobile cocooning.
Personal safety Goods and services—anything from smart home tech to insurance, organic food to travel upgrades and investment in education which help consumers feel they can buy back control as pilots rather than passengers—will hold a strong appeal. For consumers, personal safety extends to the need for protection from the elements and environmental threats. Late summer saw further debate over the “Facekini”, a colourful full-face mask worn by some Chinese bathers to shield themselves from the sun’s harmful rays, tanning pigment, algae and jellyfish stings. Mobile phones can operate as early warning systems on emergencies, from extreme weather to the spread of the Zika virus, via sites such as the Google Public Alerts page or Twitter alerts.
Businesses are benefitting from offering solutions that respond to consumer concerns about the negative impacts of air pollution. Rising sales of products, such as air purifiers and pollution masks, prove the commercial potential of product innovations tackling the consequences of air pollution head on.
With consumers keen to protect their skin from air pollutants found to cause premature skin ageing, leading brands and fine chemicals companies are already offering products to consumers to protect them from air pollution. Separately, five of the world’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have been meeting to discuss how AI research stays focused on benefiting people. “Privacy and Security is in our DNA” was the message on WhatsApp’s security screen, as the Facebook-owned messaging app reported to be the most popular in the world, introduced end-to-end encryption in mid-2016. . “No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us”, the company promised users. As so much of our lives are lived via social media, it is unsurprising that social networking brands feel they have a role to play in crises, despite many consumers expressing concern about privacy.
WELLNESS AS STATUS SYMBOL
The desire to be fit and healthier seems to be almost universal. Healthy living is becoming a status symbol, as more consumers opt to flaunt their passion for wellness through paying for boutique fitness sessions.
At a time when consuming “stuff”, once an indicator of wealth, is now taking a back seat, the lack of things, of excess fat, of wayward thoughts even, now defines aspiration and is at the heart of the consumer interest in wellness.
Consumers are signifying that health and wellness matter to them, and ever higher-end interpretations keep emerging. Celebrities, such as Beyoncé, are collaborating with brands on their take on the trend.
Wellness holidays promote the idea that consumers can take some time off, transform themselves and return a better, happier person. Wellness consumers seem to have rediscovered the link, with deep historical roots, between holidays and the pursuit of health. “Holistic wellness packages on vacation have become much more common and in some cases, the main purpose of travel”, says Cassandra Forrest, Director of Spa at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, China.
The combination of holiday and health, many cruises now offer health, Ayurvedic, “lite-dining” and detox treatments.
Eat yourself better
Consumers are aware that eating habits directly influence quality of life. This is fuelling unprecedented demand for healthier eating options with fitness-promoting attributes sought in supplements, beauty products and even pet food by consumers willing to pay for them.
Mondelez International boasts that “We create snacks to bring people delicious moments of joy. To help consumers on their well-being journey”—a key brand priority leading up to 2020. Em meados de 2016, os gurus dos alimentos saudáveis, as irmãs Hemsley, no canal britânico Channel 4 mostram “Comer bem com Hemsley e Hemsley”, tornaram-se defensores da “agricultura biodinâmica”, também chamada de “astrologia agrícola” Agricultura baseada nas fases da lua.