Nine probable key consumer trends for the 2011

Nov 4, 2010 by

According to a compilation and analysis of current studies, Mintel predicts nine key consumer trends for the year ahead, examining how long term behavior has been impacted and created a new way of life. In 2011, consumers are living for the long term with attitudes inspired by a changed value set, says the report, written by Alexandra Smith and Richard Cope.

Alexandra Smith, global trends analyst at Mintel, said “…consumer trends for 2011 are a legacy created by economics… and are set to influence the global consumer mindset for a long time to come.”

1.  Renewed emphasis on prevention will drive consumers to think defensively. In the UK, 43% of consumers say “trying to add to my rainy day savings/emergency fund” is a priority for this year, up 15% from last year. In the US, a third of consumers say they’re using debit rather than credit, and debit transactions are forecasted to rise nearly 60% between 2000 and 2010. Consumers want to know what they’re getting themselves into. 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. For brick and mortar retailers, discounting is a no-win battle against the internet. In the US, 35% of consumers say their choice of store is determined by special offers or discounts. In 2011, brands need to offer more than just retail, and be a venue, not just a shop. Exclusivity and environment may be key aspects to engage consumers with real life, not virtual, shopping experiences.

3.  With smartphones becoming the dominant mobile force, Quick Response and app technology will provide portals into unique experiences and improve our quality of life. In the US, sales of smartphones grew 82% from 2008 to 2010. As consumers are empowered, 2011 will see people take a deeper interest in where they are. Geography and status can be redefined through retail, presenting brands with an opportunity for increased location based services, promotions and solutions.

4.  Economic uncertainty has changed the workplace and the meaning of job security for the foreseeable future. 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. And, learning while doing, rather than learning in a lecture hall, with DIY education gaining steam.

5.  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. 2011 may see a counter trend to the ‘metrosexuality’ of men in a ‘masculinization’ of women. Implications for how brands market to women will be big, especially in sectors such as automobiles and sports. 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. In the US in 2008, 27% of men reported being the sole cleaner in their household; in 2010, that number jumped to 32%.

6.  People are working beyond retirement. With half of Americans having no retirement account, the number of over 65s working will reach nearly 20% by 2014. In the UK, 77% of over 55s plan to continue working after retirement age “in order to enjoy and prolong a better standard of living.” In 2011, this group may prove an untapped market, 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.

7. Attitude toward weight is polarizing, pitting the rise of the super-healthy against the eternal appeal of indulgence. In the UK, almost a quarter of women wear clothes in sizes 18 and over, more than 30% of UK children are now classed as overweight, and 34% of US adults age 20 and over are obese. 2011 may see a wider array of products from portion control and more info on packaging to low-cost healthy fare and products to firm and salve chaffed or sagging skin.

8.  Modern city dwellers have a growing love of gardening and a need for nature and with fresh, organic produce. In the US, 26% of internet users purchased vegetable seeds in past year, 19% bought vegetable/flower garden fertilizer and 27% said they like to grow vegetables at home. In the US, 40% of people with a garden agree “growing fresh food to cook with” is important. 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.  In an ever more digital era, automated technology machines are replacing people, creeping into new territories, including hospitals, libraries, pharmacies and the home. 2011 may see certain jobs permanently displaced by technology, including service jobs, not just manual or factory work.

 For more about Mintel and this study, please visit here.

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