From seeking a balance between technology and tradition to brands making sustainability a priority, this year’s trends include:
Being Human: In a world increasingly dominated by algorithms, we will need human skills and emotion to make the most of this technological revolution.
More Than Money: Consumers will reassess what matters most to them, affecting not only what they want and need, but their perception of what constitutes value.
Relationship Renaissance: Consumers who find comfort through screens at the cost of meaningful, real-life relationships, will seek new forms of intimacy for the sake of their physical and mental health.
New Green Reality: Incorporating sustainability into the day-to-day is not enough; consumers and brands will be faced with the reality that survival within a new climate context has to be the priority.
Positive Perspectives: Brands and consumers will work together in new ways to deal with uncertainty.
How The Trends Were Developed
Mintel’s living, growing prediction model adapts to the unforeseen. Centered around the seven Mintel Trend Drivers—Wellbeing, Surroundings, Technology, Rights, Identity, Value, and Experiences— the model supports the fluid acceleration or deceleration of a trend according to the reality of individual markets. This allows it to be more adaptive and reactive to change and to continue to focus on the future.
Mintel’s trends are backed by robust data and expert opinions, ensuring that what you read here is meaningful and actionable, the company claims.
1. Being Human
The past year has seen advancement after advancement in technology and AI, with each innovation changing the game by making life and work more efficient.
Technology allows consumers to automate mundane tasks, freeing up time to pursue more meaningful activities. Unlike technologies of the past that existed as tools, today’s rapidly advancing AI-powered technologies seem to be on track to outpace human output.
While consumers and businesses learn to balance the use of this emerging technology, consumers will begin to appreciate what makes humans so unique—emotions, empathy, creative ideas and the desire to connect with fellow human beings. To strike a balance between progress and preservation, brands and consumers will increasingly seek out uniquely human elements as a contrast to faceless algorithms.
2. More Than Money
Traditionally, value has been defined as the ratio of quality received to price paid in a purchase transaction. Brands often simply manage the price side of that equation when attempting to deliver better value which, while important, is not where the powers of influence end.
Consumers have increasingly diverse ideas of what indicates ‘quality’ in a product or service. As budget pressures force tighter trade-offs, consumers are becoming more realistic in their search for value as they strike a balance between quality received and cost incurred.
While attributes like sustainability, convenience and heritage remain important, brands should present them through a quality lens. In this way, they can directly contribute to a perception of value by demonstrating how these attributes make a product functionally better.
3. Relationship Renaissance
Interpersonal communication has changed dramatically in recent years. Although consumers have more access to communication tools than ever before, the onslaught of social media, text chains and video calls has led to stress and burnout.
Traditional points of personal connection, such as a shared office space or the family television set, are being replaced by remote working and personal devices. Activities that used to be done together are now done in tandem but separately. Increasingly, this is creating a fragmented network of relationships that is difficult to build and maintain.
At the same time, interpersonal relationships are emerging as a facet of wellbeing that consumers are eager to explore. While health is often managed through diet and exercise, social connection is also critical to survival and thus an important health factor to maintain. As a result, both public and private organizations are rising to the occasion to bring people together and find new ways to help consumers shift passive relationships to active ones.
4. New Green Reality
Consumers are facing the reality of an existential climate threat, which demands a radical and collaborative response. Consumers are increasingly recognizing that a passive approach to the climate crisis is not enough to tackle environmental challenges. Sustainability can no longer be a mere selling point but should be seen as an essential element of survival.
Brands must shift away from traditional strategies that focus on zero-sum sustainability initiatives and towards continuous innovation and tangible solutions that push the boundaries of what’s possible and necessary.
By highlighting forward-thinking approaches, brands can reframe climate messaging from merely reducing their carbon footprint to actively regenerating and giving back to the world, making the situation less overwhelming and more appealing to consumers.
This is increasingly relevant as mistrust of brands’ environmental initiatives is growing, pushing them to openly communicate their practices and demonstrate measurable impact. And above all else, consumers are fully aware that doing nothing is not an option.
5. Positive Perspectives
Uncertainty is the only certainty there is. Soaring prices and political instability will continue to fuel global uncertainty, while climate change concerns like wildfires, flooding and extreme temperatures are at the forefront of consumers’ worries. AI is adding a new layer of uncertainty, which stems from not only privacy concerns and a lack of familiarity but also the fear of AI-informed advances threatening job security and increasing unemployment rates, which may affect consumers’ mental health.
Rather than resisting the impact of multiple sources of uncertainty, brands need to steer away from their sanitized portrayal of reality and adopt a more honest depiction, presenting genuine products and services, with actionable information, that help’ consumers feel more grounded, reassured and able to deal with uncertainty.