Euromonitor reviews emerging fast-moving trends we expect to gain traction in the year ahead, providing insight into changing consumer values and priorities and exploring how consumer behaviour is shifting and causing disruption for business globally.

Por Alison Angus and Gina Westbrook


We are becoming wiser

Everyone’s an Expert expresses the switch in power between retailer and consumer. Previously shoppers relied on a certain brand or information source to get what they wanted, now companies must constantly innovate, drive prices down and streamline and aestheticise their offerings to entice shoppers.

At the root of the Everyone’s an Expert trend is the almost compulsive need for digital consumers to absorb and share information. As internet retailing continues to increase globally, all industries will have to adapt to consumers’ new demands to stay relevant.

This consumer trend is more prevalent among those with a mid / high-range income. In Western countries, even wealthier consumers demand value for their money—and are just as vocal online about any bad experiences.  Lower-income consumers will participate less in this digital trend on a global level. This demographic is less likely to have internet access, nor the time to research each purchase extensively as per the ‘expert’ trend. Expert consumers are also more likely to be aged 15–40 years and accustomed to using the internet extensively in their everyday lives.

“Consumers today rely on the expertise of their peers to make sure they get the best in a sea of sameness. Shoppers meticulously check reviews before committing to a product and are increasingly more likely to leave their own feedback. Consumers are giving themselves extra work before, during and after the purchasing experience, because they feel empowered by their knowledge and want others to feel the same. Companies now put their customers on a pedestal. We’re sent discount codes, free gifts, special offers— what used to be considered VIP treatment—simply for buying something. The power has switched. Unless brands cater to the consumer, they are not going to survive in this new shopping realm”, says Michelle Grant, Industry Manager, Retailing, Euromonitor International

 

We are becoming more self-sufficient

The focus of I Can Look After Myself is the preventative, consumable measures against illness, unhappiness and discomfort that people can take without having to consult a professional. They make use of apps and personalisation services to create a product uniquely for them without the need to constantly engage with social media and brand marketing. Being able to ‘look after yourself’ is seen as a luxury that allows people to be more versatile and expand their possibilities. Dictating, designing and personalising your life allows you to be more flexible.

Hype products have gone hyperactive, leaving consumers craving self-sufficient simplicity. The grip and influence that social media has over consumer behaviours holds the key to what all brand managers and marketers aspire to create: hype.

Hype products exist in all consumer industries but are particularly prevalent in luxury goods, food and nutrition, beauty and fashion, more recently, ethical labels. With so much choice and so many claims being made that promise to change one’s life, consumers increasingly want to take control of their wellbeing, cut out the noise and stop relying on brands as much. Debatably, products should aid and facilitate wellbeing, not hinder it.

Consumers prioritise health, happiness and simplicity and will spend more to get it. I Can Look After Myself is a form of self-care; however, rather than abiding by the same rhetoric that we must care for ourselves kindly, this consumer trend emphasises that we can care for ourselves successfully, if we have the right equipment to do so. As has been mentioned in the Finding my JOMO trend, people are looking for ways to simplify their lives, with the impulse strongest in Asia Pacific. However, the general global shift towards sustainability means that shopping is increasingly moralised. Consumers wanting to look after themselves now shop more sustainably, their ethical consumerism becoming a form of self-care.

 

We demand immediacy

Efficiency-driven lifestyles transcend instant gratification. I Want it Now! consumers seek frictionless experiences that mesh with their lifestyles, allowing them to dedicate more time to their professional or social lives. Central to this concern is the management of user data and a company’s access to this data. The public’s trust toward this access and how it will be used will ultimately determine the longevity of this trend.

The efficiency-driven lifestyle trend is driven by those aged 30–44 years, with almost half of this segment indicating that they are willing to spend money on products or services that save them time. This trend is particularly strong in societies with a high rate of development and urbanisation.

 

We want authenticity, for show

Back to Basics for Status consumers are searching for authentic, differentiated products and experiences which allow them to express their individuality. Consumers in developed economies are re-evaluating their spending habits, moving away from overt materialism to simplicity, authenticity and individuality. As emerging economies develop further, the same pattern is likely to emerge, with consumers tiring of generic products and starting to place more value on higher quality, unique and differentiated offerings, which convey a certain level of status.

Less is More – Consumers are rejecting the mass-produced and generic and in 2019 will favour products positioned as
simplified, back to basics and of better quality, with an implied level of status. From the rise of ‘locavores’ seeking hyperlocal food, to eco-luxe glamping holiday experiences, from craft spirits and beer to homemade baby food and artisan beauty, consumers are searching for authentic, differentiated products and experiences which allow them to express their individuality.

However, the financial crash of 2008 served as a reminder of the risks of growing too much, too quickly. Consumers in developed economies are re-evaluating their spending habits, moving away from overt materialism to simplicity, authenticity and individuality.

 

We want to impact our world

The push for a plastic-waste-free society has gained momentum over the past 12 months, and in 2019, I Want a Plastic-free World will grow further. The durability of plastic packaging is being scrutinised because of plastic’s polluting presence, post-consumer use, as waste in the global environment. Consumers will increasingly use their wallets to protest the irresponsible use of plastic, which could, in turn, create a virtuous circle where industry, from food and beverages to beauty and personal care manufacturers and beyond, stand to gain by improving sustainability.

The push for a plastic-free society has gained momentum over the past 12 months, and in 2019, consumer desire for a plastic-free world will grow. Plastics, such as single-use packaging for food and beverages and micro-plastics found in beauty, personal and home care, as well as plastics produced by the fast fashion industry, are coming under increased scrutiny as the ‘Blue Planet Effect’ shines a light on the plastic-based waste products that end up polluting the natural world. Awareness is encouraging people to take action, through campaigns and grass-roots conservation projects.

Consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly and recyclable products. Consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly and recyclable products. Nevertheless, now consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to issues of plastic waste and this is impacting their shopping habits.

“…It is important not overlook plastic’s valuable contributions. It’s used in medicine, construction and transportation. There are also inherent protective and resource-efficient benefits afforded by plastic in preventing food waste. Rather than a wholesale ‘plastic-free’ target, perhaps a ‘plastic waste-free’ world should be the goal. By adopting a circular economy approach and harness the current spotlight on plastic as a way to progress development. Brands designing out surplus and ensuring plastic recovery and re-use, is a start. Optimised waste management infrastructures and a greater consumer understanding of plastic handling post-use is also necessary, ” says Rosemarie Downey Industry Manager, Packaging Euromonitor International.

Another aspect related to nature, the agency points out, is the Animal-friendly rising fast in developed economies in 2018

Veganism, the practice of refraining from using animal products for any purpose, has long been considered confined to extremists, but is increasingly adopted by a wide range of people. Social media has brought veganism to the forefront of consumer minds. Conscious Consumers choose to use non-animal-derived ingredients in their beauty and personal care products. They oppose animal testing for cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

The rise in this more conscious consumption approach has consequently seen increasing demand for plant-derived ingredients such as plant extracts, essential oils, xanthan gum and vegetable waxes in beauty products, while animal-derived ingredients such as collagen and lanolin are losing their popularity

In addition,  consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to animal welfare and this is impacting their shopping habits. For example, almost one-third of respondents are looking for the product feature ‘free range’ in fresh food products, and for more than one-fifth of respondents, the product feature ‘not tested on animals, cruelty-free and / or 100% vegan’ influenced their purchasing choice in colour cosmetics.

More and more countries across the globe are moving towards ending animal testing in cosmetics. For example, Taiwan passed a law banning cosmetic testing on animals in 2016 and it will go into effect in 2019. However, around 80% of countries worldwide still allow animal testing and the marketing of cosmetics tested on animals.

China represents a huge market that not only does not ban animal testing but requires it for any cosmetics being imported into the country.

“The quest for improved transparency and purpose is forcing beauty companies to cater to a more ingredient-savvy consumer who wants to stand out through their product choices and the causes they believe in. Unilever, and small socially active brands are getting the attention of younger cohorts. Milk Makeup, Kat Von D and Unilever-owned brand Hourglass have reformulated their products to 100% vegan standards. Milk Makeup’s Kush High Volume mascara, launched earlier this year, is formulated with cannabis oil instead of beeswax which indicates the potential for exploring many untapped alternatives for replacing animal-derived ingredients. With the focus on ‘clean’ beauty, cruelty-free and most notably vegan products will be increasingly sought after. Despite the hurdles of a non-regulated market, the consumer voice on the subject will make further action from brands imperative in the future”, said Irina Barbalova, Global Lead, Health and Beauty, Industry Manager, Euromonitor International.

 

We want to be thoughtful

Today’s Conscious Consumer is flexible and chooses for the moment. What used to be the domain of ethically-positioned niche producers is now being embraced by conventional companies through higher welfare alternatives of existing products. Conscious Consumers are influential, and the trend will spread to others. Animal welfare concerns will evolve further and extend to other industries beyond food, beauty and fashion, to home care, home furnishings, pet food and so on. The meaning of responsible business is shifting, demanding companies improve minimum animal welfare standards even for regular products.

 

We are intentional

The fear of missing out has now given place to the re-appropriation of self-time as people find joy in missing out. To protect their mental wellbeing, Finding My JOMO consumers want to be more intentional with their time, to set their own boundaries and be more selective in their activities. Globally, millennials feel the need for this re-empowerment more strongly than other generations. Planned disconnection provides them with time to reflect and to act freely, focusing on what they really want and enjoy doing. And in developing markets, reliance on the internet may be the origin of higher stress levels, especially when being connected is so linked to essential services.

Concerns over personal data protection mean consumers are also more intentional in the way they manage their privacy online. The need for finding their JOMO sees consumers reducing their time online or cutting down on their social engagements, in favour of real-life experiences which they no longer feel compelled to share on social networks.

 

We can really be together, digitally

The growing ubiquity of high-speed internet, particularly the acceleration of mobile internet, is driving live interactive experiences online and facilitating collaboration on large files instantly. From dating to education, we have grown to expect more authentic, life-like interactions online. As our technological capabilities and comfort using them grow, so will the range of things we can do .

 

Digitally Together

Our growing comfort with sharing our friends, location and activities online will only lead to the development of new ways to engage. As our technological capabilities and comfort using them grows, so will the potential of what can be created or experienced together, remotely.

Industries are also transforming quickly to adapt to demands for virtual options. As law, medicine and other high-compliance fields continue to move online, processes that require in-person visits can be replaced by digital alternatives. From government offices to hospitals, new technologies are pushing the boundaries of which types of professional interactions can be done online.

 

But we have never been more alone

Globally, the number of single-person households will outpace the growth of all other household sizes, and baby boomers are expected to comprise a large share of this growth. While baby boomers may have been well known for the high rate of divorce among their cohort, many of those in the younger generations have rejected marriage and cohabitation altogether. They are setting the stage for a trend that is bound to outdate their generation. People across the world are bucking the stigma of living alone and embracing their independent lifestyles and enjoying Loner Living. The Pew Research Center estimates that by the time today’s US young adults turn 50, 25% of them will have been single their whole life.

 

We are ageless

Age Agnostics don’t hold with conforming to demographic expectations—everyone connects. The key to winning and retaining loyalty and trust is to develop products and services that are universally accessible even while designed with older people in mind. Baby boomers have much more in common with the values and priorities of millennials and younger generations then many realise, and it is this inclusive mindset that needs to be better understood and catered for in the future. Universal and welcoming, it is about taking care of oneself and focusing on prevention and enjoyment of life. Balancing mental, spiritual and physical is the priority here

Older people want to feel, behave and be treated like young people.

The boundaries of old age are shifting as people live longer and take better care of their health, appearance and wellbeing. Age Agnostics no longer have a passive attitude towards ageing, and this is especially true in wealthier developed countries with decent healthcare systems and social conditions.

Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are the generation with the most disregard for age. They do not think of themselves as old, and they most definitely do not want to be referred to in those terms. For example, more affluent baby boomers have been shown to be just as obsessed with technology, including tracking the latest apps and smart devices, as millennials.

Moreover, the oldest baby boomers—often referred to as the ‘forever young’ generation—are now going into their 70s and are redefining ageing. These are a new kind of mature consumers—a diverse group who enjoy the same things as their younger counterparts and want to continue to be themselves for as long as possible. This means they want products and services that help them stay as youthful as possible in mind and body, not trying to change things—just look and be the best they can.

Senior spending power offers huge growth potential – Overall, later lifers are in better financial shape than the rest of the population, boasting the highest spending power among all age groups. In 2018, those aged between 50–59 years—many of whom are still working, have reached senior positions or have inherited wealth from their parents—will earn an average of USD17,164—a full 28% above the average earnings of all age groups (USD13,400). At USD17,600, the 55–59 age group earns more than those in their early 50s.

This high average income level of these two age groups will grow 26% and 22%, respectively, through to 2025, making this demographic a highly profitable target group for marketing discretionary purchases. For example, from holiday homes and luxury watches to nutritional supplements and beauty care treatments and a vast spectrum of premium products and services.

 

Conclusion:

Many of  2019 Global Consumer Trends are about taking back control and asserting ourselves. We want to get that thing or service seamlessly and easily. We want to make a difference to the world by buying more thoughtfully. We want to look after ourselves and sidestep the experts, by taking up the reins of knowledge ourselves and driving the consumer conversation more than ever. We need to feel just a bit more powerful amidst the chaos.

 

Euromonitor – https://www.euromonitor.com/