Ten reasons why consumers are more demanding
Consumers are now more demanding of products, services and brands than ever before, according to a new report by Euromonitor International.
Consumers are using digital tools to articulate and fulfil their needs, the research found. Consumers have become harder to characterise, for instance. This means shoppers are more likely to have a hand in defining themselves and their needs.
Shoppers want safety in a perceived volatile world and look to tech tools as aids in this quest. On top of that they want to shop faster and with the most convenience. They also want authenticity in what they buy and expect elements of personalisation in mass produced as well as upscale items.
Wellness is becoming a status symbol and younger "consumers in training" have a more active role in what is purchased.
The report names ten top global consumer trends for 2017:
In 2017 almost a quarter of everyone on the planet will be over the age of 50. These consumers are transforming what it means to be older in terms of lifestyle and are more demanding in their consumption needs.
They are keen consumers of, for instance, health, beauty and fashion-forward products and are receptive to tech developments.
“Midorexia”, for instance, is a new term which highlights the shifting status and expectations of a demographic whose members are living and working for longer and prioritising wellness while challenging the typical age-appropriate behaviour of older people.
Young consumers in training
Family and work demands have "forced" young people into consumption at an earlier stage, according to the report.
Parents struggling to balance work and private life, for instance, look for paid-for convenience. Their children often stay at home into their 20s and beyond. This not only gives children a greater influence on what the family consumes, but turns them into what is now termed as "consumers in training". They are, therefore, having a greater influence on what the family consume.
Targeting children and teenagers via ads continues to raise ethical questions, though. Ongoing policy moves are attempting to hold brands in check, recognising the vulnerability of younger audiences, the report cautions.
"Among business strategists, teens and young people are key. These budding consumers set trends and spend money or compel parents to spend it for them," according to the report.
Mass-produced items seem to have lost some of their shine. So-called "extraordinary consumers" are becoming more outspoken when their needs are under-served in areas like travel, hotel accommodation, furniture design and medical care as well as fashion.
These needs have become less of a niche and more mainstream. It includes "special sizes” for “real bodies” to mirror the demographic picture, although largely restricted to online stores. The global plus-size market, for instance, has an annual turnover of around $18bn, according to market-research firm Plunkett Research.
“Health-wear” is an apparel niche that adapts the techniques and trends of fashion and applies them to the challenges created by illness and disability, for instance.
Larger consumers, particularly obese and taller consumers, increasingly voice their frustrations regarding travel challenges and complain when they feel discriminated against by airlines - especially if asked to pay for two seats.
The digital world has made consumers impatient, impulsive and in pursuit of immediate gratification. They want immediate service and real-time virtual dialogue with their brands. Ordering in advance is no longer enough.
Next-day delivery is being overtaken by ever-faster delivery possibilities for the shopper in a rush.
As consumers want healthier, better quality food on-the-go or delivered, brands are evolving to meet this interest.
Fashion is also getting "faster" thanks to the influence of social media and e-commerce.
Authenticity is a standout consumer value in 2017, according to the report, bringing with it a debate on what actually counts as authentic.
"Company efforts to ensure authenticity are part of this reach for the real," the report states.
"Food trends, particularly green-tinged ones, are a useful indicator of the focus on authenticity, with many revolving around what constitutes 'natural'. They are part of consumer eagerness to make more considered purchasing decisions, buying from 'responsible' brands that sell them quality products with real value."
In a backlash against digital dependency and the difficulty of uninterrupted reflection, several tour operators, cruise lines and resorts are promoting "unplugged vacations" to help consumers get away from a “synthetic” digital life. Another authentic-leaning travel trend is the social impact holiday
Identity in flux
The nature of identity itself is in flux, the research has found.
"The tension between global and local, part of the consumer trends landscape for some time, has been highlighted by the migrant crisis, which questions national identity," the report states.
Diversity is not just theoretical. Brands are being forced to rethink just who their audiences really are, within countries and in different countries, and how they interact with each other.
Consequently the shifting nature of identity has brought a greater focus on online identity and data breaches, which threaten a person's digital reputation. At the same time, many consumers aspire to be global.
"In the so-called global village, universal brands are still perceived as an opportunity to be a world citizen by their consumers," states the report.
Another finding is that an aspiration towards altruism - or peer-to-peer “we before me” - prevails, particularly among younger consumers.
The idea that an industrially-produced product can be customised or personalised, will have to be accepted, 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," according to the report.
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”.
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.
Contact with company representatives, the medium and the tone of the response have become critical parts of the customer journey, shaping their view of a 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," according to the report.
"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."
Privacy and security
Consumers want to feel they can buy back control and products that make them feel they are "pilots" rather than "passengers" will hold a strong appeal, the research found. For consumers, personal safety extends to the need for protection from the elements and environmental threats.
Businesses are benefitting from offering solutions that respond to consumer concerns about the negative impacts of air pollution. Rising sales of products, such as air purifiers and pollution masks, prove the commercial potential of product innovations tackling the consequences of air pollution head on.
Personal safety is also important and in 2017, consumers will be keen to fortify their homes as a place of security and refuge, according to the report.
Wellness as status symbol
Healthy living is becoming a status symbol.
"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," explains the report.
"Consumers are aware that eating habits directly influence quality of life. This is fuelling unprecedented demand for healthier eating options with fitness-promoting attributes sought in supplements, beauty products and even pet food by consumers willing to pay for them.