New Mintel Futures service pinpoints global consumer trends with most potential

Top consumer trends

Top consumer trends

Mintel has launched Mintel Futures – a new approach to trend forecasting enabling a longer term, strategic outlook.

Stemming from a set of six key trends, Mintel said it has identified the biggest areas of opportunity – defined as those with the broadest demographic and market coverage and greatest commercial product, service and packaging potential – for businesses targeting the global consumer market over the next five to 10 years.

Richard Cope, director of insight and trends at Mintel, said: “Mintel Futures examines cross category, cross-sector consumer trends, enabling organisations to stay one step ahead. We have devised the Mintel Futures initiative to be a wake-up call for clients – something to stimulate team discussion, suggest new projects and strategic approaches and pose questions for their business. It works because its longer term outlook avoids the limitations of a year ahead approach and is more actionable for our clients who are in the planning stages of activity set to impact in the same timeframes we are looking toward.”

Two key trends highlighted by Mintel as part of the Mintel Futures initiative are Human and Generation Next:

Human – automation and mass production will continue to make life easier, but consumers and companies will react by valuing – and promoting – human service and artisan goods.

Today’s consumers are chiefly experiencing automatic service in the form of storefront retail technologies, such as self-checkout terminals and mobile self-scanners, and many are warming to the concept. Mintel’s research to date suggests there may also be even further opportunity in this area. Automated service can appeal, and in Mintel’s Colour Cosmetics UK August 2012 report, 28% of women say they find sales assistants at beauty counters intimidating, while in Mintel’s Hotels US November 2012 report 30% of hotel guests say they wish there were more opportunities for automated service at hotels so they could interact less with hotel staff.

“Moving forward, automation is going to be about cutting to the chase, skipping past laborious processes, to get us to the experience or the product more quickly,” said Cope.

“For companies this means offering a choice between human expertise and automated fast-tracking in service, and adding customer customisation and artisan suppliers to the product supply line. Man and machine are not at war, and the challenge is to use automation as something that gives us more time to focus on being more human.”

This is reflected in Mintel’s Shopping for Home Décor US April 2012 report, where 40% of US households earning $150k+ prefer to buy handmade home décor items than mass-produced ones, and in Mintel’s Watches and Jewellery UK September 2012 report, which finds 36% of women “like to buy jewellery with unusual or unique design”.

Generation Next – A poor economy is challenging teenagers’ ability to rebel, to progress and to stay healthy, but they are also better connected than their parents and growing up in an era where sustainability and gender equality are higher on the agenda. This means teens need – and expect – more from companies.

Today’s teens are more health conscious, with smoking, drug and alcohol consumption in decline, but they can also be surprisingly ill-informed, said Mintel. Furthermore, the priorities of this generation have shifted from the more reckless attitudes of generations past. Indeed, nearly one in five (19%) of UK 16-24s say saving money/paying off debt is their priority (the top response) in Mintel’s Lifestyles of Young Adults UK 2012 report, while 30% say leading a healthier lifestyle is a priority. Furthermore, Mintel’s Spending Habits of the Teen Consumer US August 2011 report finds 87% of US teens agree,“Credit cards are dangerous because they allow you to spend more money than you actually have”. The paradox is growing up in a better connected world has caused them to lead more virtual, sedentary and less physically-active lives than previous generations, said researchers. As a result, their good intentions demand a helping hand from companies in the food, beverage, health and beauty sectors. 

“Young people are defined by a dichotomy in that they have turned away from the reckless spending and vices of their elders, but developed their own health problems – sedentary lifestyles, obesity and depression – that are crying out for corporate help. To capitalise on the potential of this next generation of key consumers, companies must acknowledge teens are growing up in the midst of debates surrounding sustainability, ethical sourcing and gender equality and may need to be more transparent, more ethical and more progressive to win their favour and custom,” said Cope.

Additional trends highlighted by the Mintel Futures initiative include:

Old gold
Whether retired, working or in need of care, the elderly are the key consumer demographic

East meets west
Asia can become the key cultural, as well as commercial, influence

Access anything anywhere
Our smart phones and tablets won’t just change the way we communicate, they will change the way we live

Brand intervention
The state will force corporations to become more responsible for consumers.

Mintel said its global analyst team will continue to quantify and explore Mintel Futures on a daily basis through expert analysis, commissioned consumer research, category level analysis, product and packing level analysis and client discussions to ensure that they stay relevant and updated for Mintel’s client base – enabling clients to anticipate consumer demand while planning ahead.