As part of the Brand and Marketing Consumer practice, the Youth & Culture team are routinely researching generations and their culture to discover attitudes and truths.
Whilst these are constantly evolving, we’ve identified a range of key cultural consumer trends that will shape how we work with brands and connect with people today.
BUT FIRST, WHAT EXACTLY IS A TREND?
- a general direction in which something is developing or changing.
- new thinking unlocks new ways to meet our basic needs.
- shifts in culture that inform the ways in which we act.
Trends can be separated into two categories – Macro & Micro trends.
We tend to see macro trends take shape when significant and broad societal changes occur in areas such as technology, the economy or political environments. These broad changes combine to make up the cultural context of our times.
These broader changes then drive smaller changes, known as micro trends, that typically exist for shorter timelines, as audiences and consumers adapt with a change in behaviour in response.
Macro and micro trends work together to create cultural moments – and below are our thoughts and insights regarding some of the ones that are influencing society today.
Health is Wealth
We are taking self-improvement to a new level, embracing an extreme test and fix approach to wellness. With more personal data available, consumers will be using DNA kits, such as DNAFit, and micro-dosing to push and test their limits.
Their Success ≠ Your Failure
Status these days is also about who you are as a person. Consumers want to chase and embrace fast, fleeting moments of internet fame or success and the powerful status that is attached to those moments. And that includes being more ethical and enlightened than the rest. We’re seeing these status sandcastles being built on the foundation of ethics and values, too.
It’s a bit like the Future
Smart physical spaces now truly know their inhabiting shoppers, and consumers expect immersive experiences everywhere, from events to mobile commerce. We are seeing points of sale become more personal and consumers are playing at the boundaries between imagined worlds and the real world. There are huge opportunities for brands to own this part of the purchasing journey and bring something completely new to consumers.
Divided we Sit
Consumers want to be anywhere but the middle. They want to pick a side and have an opinion because they’ve seen what action (or inaction) can result in, following the wake of Brexit and Trump’s presidency amongst other movements. Consumers want to feel seen and heard and are not afraid to voice their opinions. However, this does not necessarily mean they want the same from their products…
Comfort Food for Thought
We live in increasingly divided surroundings and this has driven the emergence of a micro-trend – a desire for escapism and comfort. While polarisation is important, it can be exhausting and we’re starting to see the effects of this play out. Many consumers are feeling tired of the constant political agenda and things that they used to use to escape (NFL, late night shows etc.) now seem to be more political than ever. Ultimately, brands need to know where they stand in the cultural context of their times so they can know when to allow consumers to have a say or have a play.
We all know that an event that is shareable helps to create brand awareness. We are seeing this take on a new level through an up-rise in bleisure (business leisure) using locations which improve productivity to pique interest, build buzz and create unforgettable memories. Therefore, a venue shouldn’t just be a space to dress, but something memorable that can tie into and elevate your brand messaging.
The events industry is one of the most wasteful sectors, and we are continuing to see the rise in consumers thinking more about how their actions affect the environment. A dramatic change in consumer attitudes on recycling and waste means we need to action changes – from something as simple as going paperless, to local food sourcing and eco production material. With efficient planning, we can cut down waste on impactful areas such as transportation, location, food and drink, and plastic waste. It’s our role to make changes in the events we create, and will require for us to think outside the box.
Be conscious about what your brand is saying before interjecting into culturally sensitive topics – do you actually have the authority to say something, or anything at all? Be conscious of where your brand stands too. Being sustainable and ethical is now an expectation people have of brands, full stop. However this isn’t just about using less plastics, the expectation extends to everything from ethically sourced food to electric cars.
Body positivity, mental health and wellbeing are all hot topics in an age where health is considered wealth. People are more self-aware and taking time for themselves. With leisure, warrants bragging rights. Gone are the days where sharing your night out on the tiles is a status of cool, now it’s all about happiness – health is wealth in today’s status game.
Be conscious and tow that line carefully, but do bear in mind no one wants to sit with the bore at the party. Do things differently to entertain and educate, people are busier and more time poor than ever before. Give them a reason to show up to your party and join your conversation.
Team Y*C, Consumer & Brand Marketing Team