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Top 10 Consumer Trends For 2017

Trends are an important part of any strategy. Knowing the way things are expected to go based on the direction they have started to take in the past can give you a strategic advantage. Obviously this is not to say that a trend is a guarantee, but it can certainly give you an indication of the way things may go.

Consumer trends are very difficult to peg based on the fact that they are, by definition, generalisations of human behaviour. It is for this reason that trends are usually determined by specialists, people who spend long hours looking at patterns and predicting what they mean.

In a White Paper entitled ‘Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2017’ Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant for Euromonitor International has outlined what service providers, retailers and product manufacturers should be mindful of in their marketing strategies for this year. It does not mean that you must change your entire plan. However, it could give you some ideas on how to make your product or service more attractive to potential customers or to retain the customers you already have.

Ageing Consumer Base
Daphne starts this section with an interesting fact, in 2017 a full quarter of the world’s population will be in the 50 plus age group, the highest it has ever been. This brings with it a number of factors which have to be considered. Older consumers are generally more demanding, they understand their position in the buying chain. They are more fashion forward and have greater spending power in the areas of lifestyle and fashion. They have also been classified as ‘Midorexic’ – a group which acts and dresses younger than their age.

The biggest mistake being made by brands is the fact that they are not focusing on this age group and the influence it has on the economy. The Midorexics are very active in the lifestyle areas of health, beauty and fitness and have the money to make an impact. They are also choosing to work longer which means that their influence increases. They have the spending power and they are putting pressure on retailers.

Consumers in Training
At the opposite end of the scale are the younger age groups. Children are often only considered as potential clients as a means of ‘hijacking’ their parents into buying the things that they want. But as a continuation of the ageing consumer market, parents are spending longer periods of time working, leaving children to become the custodians of the household. They know which items are required in the house and they spend more time perusing marketing material which means that they have a greater influence over the purchasing decisions which are made in households.

Daphne states that there is still an ethical debate taking place in markets around the world about adverts aimed specifically at children, however, retailers must also bear in mind that children have a different view of consumerism and are more influenced by what they see on their online technology rather than by what they see on television.

Consumers are wanting products that are specific to them. This means that mass products are no longer appealing to them. Consumers no longer fit into traditional categories of height, weight, age, physical ability, hand dominance, musical taste and other such descriptions. They want more choices and they are vocal about what they want. One example of this is those who fall into the oversize or the disabled part of society. They are refusing to be marginalised by the lack of products and services which cater for them. As a result, the needs and desires of these – and all – customers are becoming more important to brands.

Faster Shopping
The age of instant gratification means that faster delivery methods are required. People are no longer prepared to wait weeks or even days for the items they order. If they can order it immediately, they want it immediately. As a result, companies such as Amazon are looking into the use of drones for delivery of items ordered via its website. This will mean almost immediate delivery.

It is also influencing the way consumers receive information on special offers and product availability. More and more stores are making use of near- or in-store alerts to inform or attract customers. This is delivered directly to the consumer’s smartphone and can be tailored to match the specific spending patterns of the individual buyer.

Another sector where this is becoming apparent is in fashion, where the demand for new releases has resulted in consumers being able to place orders for items they see on the runways of major fashion shows for delivery in their size within days of them having seen it. Fast is everything.

Get Real: The Allure of Authenticity
Authenticity is a big attraction for many consumers and covers a multitude of items, everything from using pics of real consumers in marketing campaigns through to buying organic produce and even ensuring that the products which they are buying are not counterfeits.

Such is the value assigned to authenticity that consumers are prepared to overlook other previously important factors such as quality in favour of real and authentic. This even extends to the fact that they want real experiences unencumbered by mobile and technological interruptions allowing them to get the benefit of the full experience. This provides them with a full digital detox. This is ideal for the more remote parts of South Africa where visitors can get away from everything.

Identity in Flux
There is a growing move away from labels to describe and define people. National identities are becoming blurred and even gender-based labelling is fading as the move to self-identification becomes more prevalent. Brands are bring forced to reconsider their gender advertising. Race lines are also being broken down. This is even extending to the increasing popularity of unisex names where parents will select a name for their children which will allow the child to develop their own identity later in life. People want to see communications featuring normal people like themselves but without the labels, even if this means that the people they see are regular everyday people.

Personalise it
There is a shift from the mass produced product to items which are personalised. This even extends to offering customers the ability to personalise or customise mass-produced items. Think of trainers – ‘Takkies’ – where certain brands are making it possible for you to have your own images applied to the shoe thereby making them ‘Yours’. This is an extension of the Big Data principle where brands accumulate large quantities of data on their clients and use this data to create specific and targeted communications to customers.

This process actually results in increased customer satisfaction and customer loyalty which further creates the demand for personalised services in all sectors from clothing to food and even tech services.

Consumers are paying more attention to their post purchase experience, whether retailers and suppliers are willing and able to offer decent service after the fact. The experience the customer has with the company at this time is critical to the continued relationship. The tone, content and overall experience can directly impact whether there is a good or bad relationship.

The post-purchase relationship can be so vital that in some instances companies are even able to charge for this. This is most prevalent in the technological areas where customers can very often have questions or problems related to the use of the technology which require assistance.

One solution for this is increased levels of artificial intelligence which are being built into the device itself or via online support using AI to assist customers with these types of problem. Certain automobile manufacturers are building artificial intelligence features into their cars to assist drivers to understand the operation of the car.

An extension of the post-purchase requirement is that consumers are increasingly unwilling to accept the concept of Planned Obsolescence and are demanding that products have longer lifespans. In fact, France recently passed a law requiring manufacturers to state how long products will last.

Privacy and Security
Consumers are very conscious of safety, both their own and that of their family. This will feature strongly in 2017. However, safety comes in all shapes and forms. It is not just physical security of the person and their belongings but also factors such as quality of the air they breathe, protection from the sun and even security in their activities in the digital space.

Parents are increasingly becoming aware of the dangers which are prevalent and which can affect their children in the digital arena. There is also a growing warning about the dangers presented by Artificial Intelligence built into smartphones and other mobile devices. People need to be vigilant about their devices and how they are using them.

Wellness as a Status Symbol
The final consumer demand relates once again to personal health and identity. This starts with health and fitness wearable devices and clothing which have resulted in the creation of the term ‘Athleisure’ where the clothing and devices are as much about the fashion as the associated fitness.

Another aspect of this is the need for wellness or medical tourism where consumers are looking for holiday destinations where they can escape from the normal run-of-the-mill grind and completely relax with specialist supervision and assistance in order to correct some stress-related issue or other.

Healthier and more unusual foods are also gaining popularity. This is resulting in more people adopting unusual diets or making use of services which provide prepared meals which are customised to meet your specific dietary requirements.

In summary, while consumers have always been ‘right’ they are now calling all the shots. Companies which wish to be successful and to have longevity are going to have to take these trends into account. As stated, this does not mean completely changing their strategy but at least be aware of what is happening and how it can impact their business.

About Daphne Kasriel-Alexander
Daphne Kasriel-Alexander works as a Consumer Trends Consultant with Euromonitor International, analysing consumer trends, behaviour and aspiration. She conceptualises and writes Euromonitor International’s annual Top 10 Global Consumer Trends report as well as other analysis, podcasts and webinars. She offers tailored corporate strategy guidance to companies and organisations, helping them decode their consumers. Daphne also gives seminars and talks.

You can read the full white paper by downloading it from the Euromonitor International website.

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