Mintel: Consumer trends begin with long-term benefits

Oct. 27, 2010

While consumers are still reeling from the aftershock of the global economic crisis, Mintel has predicted nine key consumer trends for the year ahead that examine how long-term behavior has been impacted. In 2011, consumers are living for the long term with attitudes inspired by a changed value set.

"The effects of the global economic crisis have had long reaching implications and it is not just consumer behavior in the short term which was affected. Indeed, these consumer trends for 2011 are a legacy created by economics, but now gathering their own momentum and are set to influence the global consumer mindset for a long time to come," said Alexandra Smith, global trends analyst at Mintel.

The consumer trends as identified by Mintel are:

1. Prepare for the Worst: With a heightened sense of what economic collapse looks like, a renewed emphasis on prevention will drive consumers to think defensively. Consumers want to know what they're getting themselves into: no loopholes, no hidden costs and no pricey upgrades. So, 2011 may see the need for brands to demonstrate how a product or service delivers long-term benefits or prevents problems down the road.

2. Retail Rebirth: With online experiences developing rapidly for bricks and mortar retailers, discounting is a no-win battle against the Internet. In the United States, 35 percent of consumers said their choice of store is determined by special offers or discounts. In 2011, service may extend into advice and demonstrations, while exclusivity and environment may also be key aspects to engage consumers with real life, not virtual, shopping experiences.

3. Where It's App: As consumers are empowered like never before, 2011 will see people take a deeper interest in where they are: from the city to a specific store. Geography and status can be redefined through retail, presenting savvy brands with an opportunity for increased location-based services, promotions and solutions. Brands will need to take QR codes beyond niche understanding, using it to explain and offer exclusive content. Rather than displacing our interaction with the physical, this technology has the potential to reinvigorate our relationships with brands, retailers and with each other.

4. No Degree, No Problem: Economic uncertainty has changed the workplace and the meaning of job security. As a result, consumers will continue to question higher education's ROI and alternative channels for learning will gain credibility. In 2011, we may see more lifelong learning in the workplace, corporate sponsored degrees and companies investing in employees through education and training rather than salary or benefits.

5. On Her Own Terms: Women are earning and learning more than men, creating new gender roles in business and consumerism. In 2011, age is no longer an easy marker for lifestage. Opportunities abound for brands looking to focus less on the year the female consumer was born, and more on where she's at with her life right now. Implications for how brands market to women will be big, especially in sectors such as automobiles and sports. And with men helping around the house more than ever, there may be an opportunity for brands to cater household products, as well as retail experiences, accordingly.

6. Retired for Hire: People are working beyond retirement – either due to financial need, or because they have grown attached to a lifestyle of leisure and pleasure. With half of Americans having no retirement account, the number of over 65s working will reach nearly 20 percent by 2014. In 2011, this group may prove an untapped market for advertisers, affecting a number of consumer sectors. Vitality, energy and longevity will become key product qualities in the food and drink sector, while health and beauty messages may need to center on anti-aging properties, nutraceuticals and older models to reach this target group.

7. The Big Issue: Our attitude toward weight is polarizing, pitting the rise of the super-healthy against the eternal appeal of indulgence. In the United Kingdom, almost a quarter of women wear clothes in sizes 18 and over, a third of men wear XL clothes or bigger. Additionally, more than 30 percent of UK children are now classed as overweight. Meanwhile, 34 percent of U.S. adults age 20 and over are obese. Therefore, 2011 may see a wider array of products catering to an obese market: from portion control and more info on packaging to low-cost healthy fare and products to firm and salve chaffed or sagging skin.

8. Garden State: Modern city dwellers have a growing love of gardening and a need for nature and with fresh, organic produce still economically out of reach for many, consumers are finding their own ways to bring healthy home. In 2011, rural tourism, working farm holidays and garden leisure may benefit, while rising food and commodity prices may see a boost for seed sales as this trend develops.

9. Who Needs Humans: As we move into an ever more digital era, automated technology has machines replacing people – for better or worse. While cashier-less checkouts have become commonplace, we're starting to see machines creep into new territories, including hospitals, libraries, pharmacies and the home. Therefore, 2011 may see certain jobs permanently displaced by technology. But backlash and balance-seeking may lead to an increased cache for hyper-personal goods and services.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Customer Service / Experience , Trends / Statistics

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