Authenticity, wellness and faster shopping among key consumer trends identified by Euromonitor

Analyst Euromonitor has highlighted 10 consumer trends for 2017.

The trends are:

1. Ageing

According to AARP, a US lobby group for older people, the annual economic activity of the longevity market in the US is worth US$7.6 trillion, "The growing population over 50 represents both a transformative force by itself and a net asset—a fast-growing contingent of active, productive people who are working longer and taking the economy in new directions", AARP’s "The Longevity Economy" declares. 'Midorexics' are older people who act younger than their years.

2. Consumers in training.

Children have more buying power. A late summer 2016 Bloomberg Businessweek article, looking at US discount retailer Target’s involvement of kids in planning 2017 clothing aimed at them, is entitled "Target’s future will be decided by kids". It compares brands to bemused parents facing more opinionated consumer offspring. "Like contemporary parents who give children so much decision-making power, Target is also learning about the institutional confusion that comes when children are really seen and heard". A picture of casually-dressed children is captioned, "Mini taste arbiters select favorites at Target’s head office".

3. Extraordinary.

One size fits all no longer works. For instance, in 2017, Euromonitor International forecasts that the obese population (BMI 30 kg / m2 or more) will represent 42.7 per cent of the population aged 15+ in North America and 19% in Western Europe. "Special sizes" for "real bodies", both young and old, are emerging as a sales opportunity in the fashion world, which is starting to mirror the demographic picture, although largely restricted to online stores. The global plus-size market has an annual turnover of around US$18 billion, according to market-research firm Plunkett Research.

4. Faster shopping.

Consumers 'want it when I want it'. Internet shopping giant Amazon is working on delivering packages to people’s homes in under 30 minutes through the use of drones. Amazon customers in France can already buy SEAT Mii city cars from the shopping site, delivered to their home within 72 hours. The #DeliveryToEnjoy campaign has been created to enhance the vehicle buying experience, "offering a 100% online experience, with speed and respect of delivery and a streamlined payment solution", says SEAT.

5. Get real.

The allure of authenticity. 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. 

6. Identity in flux. 

Towards the end of 2016, Airbnb sent an email to its members informing them they need to declare themselves prejudice-free to continue hosting or renting with the service. "What is the Community Commitment? You commit to treat everyone— regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgement or bias". 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.

7. Personalise it. 

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". With an almost infinite capacity to gather information on clients and innovation in production technologies such as 3D printing, the masses can now imitate their high-end counterparts. This trend is changing consumer expectations, as customers demand that brands fulfil or even predict their needs. Brands are also looking to strengthen the brand / client relationship through the emotions they can arouse by making things "personal".

8. Post-purchase. 

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. Post-purchase contact with the company’s representatives, the medium and the tone of the response are also critical parts of the customer journey, shaping their view of the business. 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. To satisfy and retain customers, more products and services come with a type of built-in offer of post-purchase assistance. This is linked to an emerging definition of convenience going beyond fulfilling customer needs to actually predicting them—including the post transaction period. The extended life of products, with the greater consumer openness to buying "pre-loved" items, is also part of the post-purchase picture. Durability is a more common consumer goal.

9. Privacy and security. 

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.

10. 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, "athleisure" clothing, food with health-giving properties and upscale health and wellness holidays. The spectacle of those willing to throw money at their quest for spiritual improvement is widespread enough to provide an easy target for humour, as are the frequent consumer Instagram posts of retreat experiences, expressing wellness by clichéd images of fitness-wear and toned bodies posing against scenic backdrops. 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. Athlesiure wear is an example.

Report author Daphne Kasriel-Alexander said: "Consumers are now more demanding of products, services and brands than ever before and are using digital tools to articulate and fulfil their needs. The 2017 consumer is harder to characterise, not least because identity is multidimensional and in flux, with shoppers more likely to have a hand in defining themselves and their needs.

"They want safety in a perceived volatile world, particularly for their nearest and dearest, and look to tech tools as aids in this quest. They want to shop faster and secure the swiftest convenience. They want authenticity in what they buy and expect elements of personalisation in mass produced as well as upscale items. Consumers who are "beyond average" in terms of size or dietary needs, for instance, are pushing to see their needs better met.

Added Kasriel-Alexander: "The global cultural reverence for wellness has many consumers regarding it as a status symbol, particularly as the significance of material things as indicators of achievement has paled. Consumer requirements even extend to the post-purchase experience; to their relationship with brands once the transaction has happened."

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