It’s easier than ever to go to market with your own product. Paying in cryptocurrency, VR fitting rooms and AI shopping assistants may be all the rage now but the winners are the companies adjusting to shifting consumer trends.
Mad Men marketing doesn’t work anymore as Millenials step in as the driving force of buying power. Even their parents are changing the way they shop. Let’s look at the top consumer trends now and how brands can be relevant.
Consumer’s life is not so predictable in terms of clear milestones any more: get an education, get married, have children, retire. Now, people switch careers and continue learning throughout their life, retire in their 30s, have kids in their 40s and never get married.
So the messaging and products aimed at those outdated life stages begin to look irrelevant. Brands relying on the “traditional” course of life are losing touch with millenials – preventive health and wellbeing products are all the rage among 30-year-olds while anti-aging products are shunned by 60-year-olds. Obsessively targeting women, 25-35 YO, with baby products is seen as obnoxious and presumptuous. And completely new niches open up because people are no longer limited to “I’m too old to take care of myself” – men’s beard products and hair dyes, for example.
Gone are the days of conspicuous consumption, young people prefer to wear something that only insiders would recognize. Status is derived from choosing quality and lasting products instead of flashy fast-fashion items that need to be replaced too soon. People actually want to consume less so they buy wisely.
This trend comes as a result of a variety of reasons:
Which leads to…
Ethical and eco-friendly production are becoming the norm – ethically-sourced ingredients and materials are key factors when choosing which brand to buy. People care who, where and how their items are made, and what’s their impact on the environment and the local communities.
The general public is increasingly aware of unethical production methods and knowledgeable about ingredients. They vote with their wallets and put immense pressure on businesses to switch to better practices.
REI, the outdoor gear company, has become a symbol of doing things right with their #OptOutside campaign and closing on the biggest retail day in the US, Black Friday, for 4 years in a row and making it a tradition for others as well.
This is probably the most vocal consumer trend, sweeping across Europe and changing legislation under social pressure. All consumer product companies are under fire to produce less waste and plastic is becoming the smoking of our time.
Packaging needs to be reusable, biodegradable or compostable, and wasteful over-packaging when shipping draws criticism. The sales of reusable cutlery, straws, food boxes and produce bags are booming. As the entire food industry in Europe is moving away from single-use plastics, new solutions for to-go containers are emerging such as edible plates and cutlery.
Home cleaning products are also going through a revival in order to remove the unnecessary – and heavy – shipping of mostly water to buyers. Instead, soluble tablets of cleaning products like YAW Hygiene and Blueland are the new love of forward-thinking consumers.
So drop the extra plastic wrap for your t-shirts and switch to simpler, recycled cardboard boxes. Less is more now.
The ethics of a product extend to the craftsmanship behind it. Brands that preserve traditional techniques and put back artisanship in the making have a strong appeal to today’s consumer who’s tired of mass-produced and generic products.
Look around: no doubt small bakeries and family bistros are opening, young people reviving their grandfather’s leather craft with a modern twist selling online, and jewelry designers preserving heritage cross stitch patterns in the form of contemporary necklaces.
Local, handcrafted products made by real people are authentic and differentiated, and attract guilt-free spending even at premium prices.
Inclusivity and diversity are the measures of the modern brand. Those that stick to old perceptions of beauty and stereotypes, fall from grace. Victoria’s Secret, anyone?
Gender-neutral underwear (TomboyX), 40 shades of foundation for any skin tone (Fenty Beauty) and swimwear for any preference of coverage (Summersalt) are examples that only scratch the surface of the enormous movement for inclusivity and giving people the choice they crave to pay for.
The joy of missing out is the new luxury of the always-connected modern people. Voluntarily disconnecting from social media and setting boundaries to digital distractions, people are increasingly intentional of their behavior online and selective of interactions. It seems that we marketers cannot expect them to be always available and receptive of our communications. Omnichannel might soon be too much and unwelcome.
Is your brand fitting at least one of the consumer trends? Then you’re half-ready for success. The brands of tomorrow will be shaped by the buyers and not the other way around.
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