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Q&A: Top 10 Global Consumer Trends For 2017 Opinion | 23 Feb 2017 Daphne Kasriel- Alexander

Q&A: Top 10 Global Consumer Trends For 2017

Opinion | 23 Feb 2017

Q&A: Top 10 Global Consumer Trends For 2017 Opinion | 23 Feb 2017 Daphne Kasriel- Alexander

Daphne Kasriel- Alexander

Consumer Trends Consultant

Our recent global and APAC webinars "Top 10 Global Consumer Trends For 2017" explored the consumer trends that will reign around the world this year, and which are likely to

influence consumer purchasing choices - and so the estimated US$ 43 thousand billion of expected real global consumer expenditure. The events saw over 3,000 registrants and significant live engagement on Twitter. A thought-provoking Q&A session concluded the live broadcast, highlights of which follow below.

Q&A: Top 10 Global Consumer Trends For 2017 Opinion | 23 Feb 2017 Daphne Kasriel- Alexander

Does the obesity epidemic and demands by those consumers contradict or expand the wellness as status consumer trend? Do they work together or are they mutually exclusive?

I don't see this as a contradiction. The wellness industry needs to address the needs of obese and overweight consumers who make up growing proportions of the general population even it typical advertising shows svelte customers. In 2017, obese populations aged 15 will hit 42.7% in North America and 19% in Western Europe. There are already specialist weight management breaks on offer, for example. One must remember that many consumers who feel passionate about wellness are not necessarily models of health and are interested precisely because they seek to improve their overall health and show that it is a priority for them.

How is the consumer interest in authenticity impacting business?

With authenticity and personalization key consumer trends for 2017, buying items directly from their producers and their country of origin, often with personalized elements to suit their individual tastes, can give consumers the satisfaction that they are purchasing genuine items with positive associations like heritage tailored to their needs and so unique too. It's important to add that this broader choice extends to fresh and packaged food - often sought to calm consumer concerns regarding product safety - as consumers can feel reassured buying more 'natural' organic food, for instance, that may not always be available locally.

I

talked a bit about what's basically a consumer rebuff of things synthetic, a love for

the natural and 'less than slick'. This is likely to be expressed in consumer choices and buying aspirations more broadly than the more premium pursuit of 'real' consumption advocated on websites like Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, for instance.

The reason Westin's new Let's Rise campaign works in my opinion - for instance the ad showing a woman reclining in a pool and a caption of Take back what seat 34E took from you!! - is that it tries to acknowledge the discomfort of travel - the authentic aspect of it - and then leverage it.

In my agency we have spent a lot of time trying to understand why, if the mature consumer market is so attractive (high worth, growing), then why are brands continuing to alienate them and chase the sexy millennial audience?

It is true that the majority of brands insist on depicting people in their campaigns who don't reflect their typical, older consumer base, but things are changing. Luxury brands, are realizing that their target demographic may not be influenced to buy by teen starts.

As I discussed in my recent report, the visibility of older role models in fashion campaigns continues in 2017 as creative directors, such as Gucci's Alessandro Michele recognise that teen Instagram stars may not impact a wider demographic. He picked theatre doyenne, Vanessa Redgrave, 79, for Gucci's current Cruise ad campaign. In an industry known for celebrating youth, some see this as a shift. Mainstream celebrities like actress Renee Zellweger have been outspoken about the demeaning 'body shaming' of older people in the public eye. The first London 50 Fashion Week in 2016, was driven by research showing a majority of older women polled felt ignored by the high street. Hollywood actor, Kurt Russell, 65, stares confidently from the October 2016 cover of men's style magazine GQ in double denim. Style-aware older women grace the sequel to Ari Seth Cohen's new style bible, "Advanced Style: Older and Wiser." Other examples of higher profile older role models include Wang Deshun, a muscular 80-year-old actor, catwalk model and D.J. who enjoys subverting China's image of what it means to be old, in a country where early retirement is standard.

If consumers are beginning to care more about product services than brands, does this mean that product centered communication will be more impactful than brand purpose communication?

  • I think it depends on the product, but there is no doubt that consumer loyalty to

brands has been left behind to some degree and so a focus on product seems wise.

The whole landscape of consumer/brand relationships is changing. Consumers globally are listening less carefully to company messages and more to each other when making purchasing choices and sharing buying experiences, lifestyle habits and consumption aspirations. Post-recession, with the greater openness to frugal living, and a broader definition of what value means, consumers don't show the loyalty to brands their parents did. I think brands need to engage with key consumer trends to understand how to decode their current and new consumers and the broader cultural influences on actual purchasing choices and buying aspirations.

Companies now have to insert themselves into online conversations, often on social networking, and to commit to communicating with their connected consumers in real time, in order to reach out to their existing and potential audiences who are now less

brand-loyal and less open to traditional marketing approaches.

One good way to build loyalty in this buying environment is to build a new relationship with customers using these new media. Crowdsourcing consumer views is increasingly the 'new normal' in FMCG product development, and so the wishes of more consumers are being incorporated into the production process. Also, many high street stores are offering emailed receipts to customers to encourage a digital relationship and hoped- for loyalty with customers while capturing their details.

What will be more significant: Natural-organic consumption or conscious consumption?

Actually, I think that natural/organic consumption is just one part of the broader picture of conscious consumption. Consumer, fanned by their online discussions and their interaction with shared reviews of products and consumption experiences over the internet, are discussing the value offered by brands and this includes a discussion of a brand's 'green credentials' and the extent to which its goods are 'natural'. This market is likely to continue to grow, particularly if prices can be kept down, for instance if the items are private label ones.

In many cases, the consumer interest in organic food is motivated by safety concerns and not green/environmental positions. A number of safety scandals particularly pertaining to baby milk formula, have persuaded many consumers to buy more expensive organic, imported brands - for instance Chinese consumers buying baby formula from suppliers in Australia to feel reassured.

These trends perfectly describe market behaviour in a developed economy, but how about in less developed countries?

  • I think these global consumer trends I've identified in the global consumer trends

report influence consumers everywhere. This is particularly because the internet is a great leveller: digital life brings developments and consumer views from vloggers (video bloggers), bloggers and news sites to onliners in various global regions instantaneously. This facilitates the sharing of opinions, and consumer critiques of brands (positive as well as negative) between consumers around the world. But also, as I mentioned, consumers aspire to be global consumers, universal brands are still perceived as an opportunity to be a world citizen by their consumers.

There are, of course, some differences. For instance, subscription services, which I talked about when I discussed personalization, have been most prominent and successful to date in developed markets but I think their growth in emerging markets is just a question of time.

Which of these top 10 trends, do you consider will impact more on the beauty industry?

  • I actually think all of these trends will impact consumers engaging with the beauty

industry. Perhaps the most relevant ones are ageing - a changing narrative, extraordinary, faster shopping and the allure of authenticity - pursuit of the genuines essential, even if it is contrived. "It took three hours of hair and make-up to get me looking this real," actress Emily Blunt told British Vogue in November 2016. Also, identity in flux is relevant - I mentioned that make-up tutorials on YouTube by men are a trend, personalization - particularly with subscription services, privacy and security - especially in the sense of protection from the elements, and of course wellness as status symbol - so we have premium or more costly products with health benefits,

exotic ingredients, added vitamins etc.

Do consumers look for new products that have not been seen before? are they scare to try something totally different? How should we create needs for new kind of food/drink products?

I think that today's consumers are much less brand-loyal than their parents. They are often 'agnostic shoppers', willing to shop around for items offering them the best value. The aspiration to consume global products, and the interest in the new that digital life has schooled consumers into, means that more consumers are keen to be early adopters of new products, particularly if they perceive them to offer value, and not just in terms of price.

In my view, the best way to create needs for new products is to engage with current consumer trends that allow brands to decode their consumers. For instance a new drink targeting younger, millennial consumers, will be sensitive to the fact that they are impressed by more gender-neutral messages, and put off my traditional forms of marketing. Adding an aspect of social responsibility to the brand mix, and a presence on social networking or a video blog will also add value for your potential consumer.

Do you feel that brand companies are filling in the void of social responsibility that governments are ignoring? How do they maintain authenticity?

Most brands are aware that social responsibility matters to their existing and potential consumers - in the consumer sensitivity to greenwashing for instance, or the interest in transparency regarding the entire production process, and are therefore incorporating it into their offerings, sometimes anticipating governmental policy. Younger entrepreneurs, often working in start-ups are in tune with this sensibility already.

Authenticity is a broad value, and it is apparent in things like an attention to heritage, a respect for craftsmanship, an interest in the origin of products, an understanding that 'the real' appeals in marketing and ad campaigns and these are all things that brands can incorporate to add value.

People are considering their purpose, how what I do, somehow contributes. What's the industry position on this?

Certainly, changemaker consumers that I discussed in my Top 10 global consumer trends for 2016 report, particularly younger, newly-minted consumers, have a voice that is as robust as ever. One has only to look at the huge, negative response to 'greenwashing' by brands such as Volkswagen, the degree of public giving in response to crowdfunding campaigns for various causes, the interest in ethical labels, social responsibility in business - something now regarded as commonplace and taught on MBA programmes, the interest in socialimpact holidaying, ongoing cause-related discussions among bloggers on the internet and political campaigns in broader areas such as fashion etc.

How do we counter 'bad-science'? How can we help the consumer discern the difference?

If we take this to man false brand claims, I think consumers, once they realise inaccuracies, will 'out' brands amongst themselves on blogs and vlogs online. This is apparent in cases of 'greenwashing' and the recent Volkswagen case comes to mind.

As I mention in my Top 10 global consumer trends for 2017 report, there is also a certain ambivalence regarding the power of artificial intelligence to benefit us, as while

new home technology is giving some consumers piece of mind and security, other voices are starting to surface hidden dangers.

There is also some ambivalence as to whether artificial intelligence (AI) and tech are panaceas. In mid-2016, physicist Professor Stephen Hawking warned that AI, disguised as helpful digital assistants and self-driving vehicles, is gaining a foothold.In recent months, device recalls have undermined consumer confidence in travelling with mobile technology. Online security breaches have shaken consumer trust in technology even as consumers appreciate that trade-offs are necessary between safeguarding personal privacy and tracking down potential threats. In recognition of consumer concerns and keen to steer developments along an ethical path, the non-profit OpenAI centre is funded by Silicon Valley investors. Separately, five of the world's largest tech companies including Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have been meeting to discuss how AI research stays focused on benefiting people. As so much of our lives are lived via social media, it is unsurprising that social networking brands feel they have a role to play in crises despite many consumers expressing concern about privacy. Facebook's suicide prevention tool is being rolled out globally while the social media's Safety Check feature lets users connect with friends and loved ones during a disaster and track crisis updates.

I'm working for a pharmaceutical company (skincare), seeking to create new cosmetics products, and wishing to incorporate medical aspects, but still retaining the look of cosmetic product; can we use this advantage to bring in more clients?

This is an interesting question, and I think this will depend on existing laws in particular countries. We are already seeing this combination in a slew of anti-pollution skincare products, for instance, such as Dior's One Essential City Defence SPA 50 and Estée Lauder's Clinique City Block line. Antipollution ingredients range from plant extracts and vitamins to compounds with metal chelating or magnetic properties used to prevent pollutants from interacting with the skin.

It is also apparent in interest in better-for-you products, or in beauty products with added vitamins etc. to offer added value to the consumer. Certainly, at a time when security and safety are consumer priorities in our volatile world, I think you may have potential with this idea.

All natural, often organic food is increasingly preferred, but how much is the customer ready to pay a premium for it?

I think that more consumers are keen on purchasing more natural and organic food, if they can afford it. This interest is fuelled by trends like the allure of authenticity, but in the case of food, often by consumer safety concerns too, following a number of high-profile safety scandals and product recalls. If a natural/organic food product is cheaper, for instance part of a retailer's own brand, all the better.

Consumers today are also savvier, helped by the ability to consult with fellow consumers online and with their reviews. They will be critical if they suspect 'greenwashing' as shoppers are now scrutinizing the whole production process, not just the finished product.

On Euromonitor's own database, Passport, the stats reflect the growing consumer demand for natural/organic/free-from foods with forecasts showing a sustained growing interest. For instance in 2016, growth in sales of organic food and beverages

was 13.6% in the Asia Pacific, 6.8% in North America and 3.1% in Western Europe.

What is your opinion about exotic products like Kopi Luwak coffee?

I think that consumer interest in exotic products will increase, as people are keen on trying new products, and enjoy being early adopters of them as interest in what new start-ups have to offer on sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter is high. I also think that as shoppers today are less loyal to brands, and that as 'agnostic consumers', they flit between different products in a bid to identify value that today means more than price, so there is potential here! Also, if you can differentiate yourself from the competition to show that the exotic product is beneficial to wellness and is safe and authentic, all the better as these are key consumer values in 2017.

What kind of impact will there be for brands and retailers in the next couple of years under the "Faster Shopping" trend?

This faster shopping trend means that brands have to satisfy increasingly impatient consumers whom the digital world has schooled into becoming more impulsive shoppers, in pursuit of immediate gratification. Existing and new products will also need to be quickly attainable.

This trend will drive faster delivery options (often the same-day or even within an hour or two) and greater use by brands of so-called beacon technology, which retailers can use to alert consumers nearby via apps on their smartphones about special offers or brand new products.

Speeded-up business models also mean a faster response to trends in terms of what brands offer. In the fashion world, as I mentioned, this consumer impatience has turned the traditional 'preview' system of designer fashion collections on its head. This has pushed luxury clothing and accessory designers, for instance, to support "hot off the runway" offers that are available to customers immediately. Faster convenience also opens up opportunities for delivery of fresh food ingredients and ready meals.

The popularity of subscription services of various types is only set to increase in the next couple of years. Subscription services deliver selections of products directly to consumer homes. Consumers around the globe have really taken to considered picks of everything from skincare products, pet treats, gaming and razors to meal kits with pre-measured ingredients and recipes - many of which rely on fast delivery for freshness.

What kind of role has internet retailing played when consumers are seeking premium products and upgrading their shopping experience?

Internet retailing has brought global consumption to the national shopper. This means that consumers of various ages, even younger 'consumers in training', can order premium products and choose from what the world market has to offer, and often at cheaper prices, despite various import taxes. As people often express themselves and their identity via their consumption choices, internet retailing enhances this process and the feeling of creative consumption. It has also speeded up the shopping process and driven convenience and choice for consumers even when they are ordering from local online retailers.

Important too, is that shopping via the internet also gives consumers a broader choice of services. So for instance, the growing selection of premium holidays and spa treatments; even international medical tourism options, can be reviewed before purchase. With the post-purchase experience something that matters to consumers in

2017, internet retailing opens up direct and often 24/7 two-way communications channels between retailers and their existing and potential consumers for a more satisfying and immediate customer journey.

How ready are FMCG companies to address the changing needs of consumers, and what do these companies need to do to maintain/gain competitive edge in providing consumer needs?

Brands vary in their interest in and ability to integrate consumer trends into their business and those with greatest awareness apparent in everything from their product packaging to advertising and marketing stand to gain. To give you a couple of examples: The Ikea brand has shown itself keenly aware of the consumer interest in authenticity. Its new "We Help You Make It" campaign tries to show "real people in real living situations that anyone could relate to," according to Leslie Stone of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, who worked on the ads. The scenarios mirror how the American dream has evolved to fit post-recession economic reality. One shows a family who have given the bedroom over to the baby with the parents camping in the living room.

Mainstream brands now speak the language of wellness. Mondelez International boasts that "We create snacks to bring people delicious moments of joy. To help consumers on their well-being journey" - a key brand priority leading up to 2020.

With crowdsourcing consumer views increasingly the 'new normal' in FMCG product development, the wishes of more consumers are being incorporated into the production process. In the US, Columbia Crest offers a Crowdsourced Cabernet, a project allowing fans to vote online on decisions like how long to age a wine.

This We before Me idea is interesting. Please elaborate a little more of this trend

An aspiration towards altruism and a smaller ego, or 'we before me' prevails, particularly among younger consumers. This peer-to-peer trend sees a new cooperative paradigm among emerging artists and entrepreneurs. This compassion for the world is a worldview that is most apparent in younger consumers, and is manifest in a range of consumption choices, from buying 'pre-loved' items to the interest in ethical labels and other changemaker shopping choices.

Trend 3 and Trend 7 - Extraordinary and Personalize it seem the same. Could you please explain?

Consumer trends often overlap and can contradict each other! I think that in the extraordinary trend, the emphasis is on 'outliers' who are beyond the average consumer in temrs of size, height, food tolerance, music tastes etc. and that these consumers are getting more vocal about their often unmet needs. Personalised consumption is more about the expression of a touch of individuality in luxury, and increasingly in mass consumption.

Watch the Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2017 webinar on demand here & the Asia Pacific session here See the complete Top 10 Global Consumer Trends For 2017 report here

See the complete Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2017 report in Mandarin Chinese here

See the complete Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2017 report in Spanish

here

Each month, from March 2017, I will be analysing how one of the top 10 global consumer trends is evolving

Read Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2016 here

For further information please contact the author, Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant at Euromonitor International; daphne.kasriel@euromonitor.com or connect with her on LinkedIn

Each month, from March 2017, I will be analysing how one of the top 10 global

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