Looking ahead to 2016, Mintel‘s Senior Trends Consultant Richard Cope discusses the five key UK consumer trends set to impact the market in the year ahead.
My Mind’s Eye
Virtual and augmented reality technologies enter our homes and businesses to entertain, trial and train. “Facebook’s Oculus Rift is expected to go on sale early 2016, but beyond immersive in-home gaming the possibilities of virtually exploring locations present a host of opportunities to ‘test drive’ products or locations, an approach already being embraced by retailers as a means of showing customers just how their wares would look in their homes,” Cope says.
Growing consumer interest will inspire more businesses to embrace this technology as a means of creating immersive advertising or proving sustainability credentials, such as the Nescafé 360° app that takes you to its farmland. While cost will prevent this technology from entering everyone’s homes, it will be increasingly embraced by businesses seeking to entertain and reassure consumers.”
On the Waterfront
Shortages will make water an increasingly precious and politically charged commodity, encouraging innovation in sourcing, recycling and manufacturing.
“In 2016 we will feel the agricultural fallout from an extreme period of global drought, encompassing areas as diverse as California, Alberta, Brazil and Thailand. European suffering might not amount to much more than a shortage of certain foodstuffs from drought hit areas elsewhere, but innovations and corporate social responsibility practices in water sourcing, recycling and conservation are going to come to the fore in the European market,” he adds.
Space and time are at a premium, becoming new currencies in their own right and creating new marketplaces. As more people are renting or sharing homes in the UK and across Europe, consumers seek to maximise the usage of space for storage, parking, working and sleeping.
“In an urbanising world of high-density living, access – rather than outright ownership – makes sense. As part of a wider trend towards sustainable, affordable sharing, some 57% of UK consumers say they always or sometimes borrow things instead of buy them and 34% attend ‘swishing’ events to swap items they no longer need with others.”
Fears surrounding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which if approved could weaken food safety law and environmental legislation potentially flooding the market with genetically-modified processed foods, untested beauty products and produce treated with pesticides and growth hormones, will cause consumers and brands to react by favouring purer and more natural products.
Cope comments: “Ahead of this, Mintel research shows consumers are already striving for an all-natural lifestyle with some 48% of UK consumers preferring to buy natural and organic toiletries because they are better for their health, while 57% do so because they are free from unnecessary chemicals. Whether or not the TTIP gets ratified in 2016 is something of a moot point, the media storm surrounding it will be enough to get consumers to look twice at their food, beauty and cleaning products.”
Beacons can flourish in retail and leisure by making consumers feel in-the-know and ahead of the game. In retail, beacons can welcome people to stores, inform them of offers, remind them of items they need to buy, or have put on a wish list. Beacons have the power to bring destinations alive, especially in The Netherlands, where the entire village of Grou has been connected with 100 beacons. Meanwhile Exterion Media is trialling beacon technology on 500 London buses to send passengers location-relevant marketing alerts.
“Expect beacon technology and contextual marketing to spread across retail and leisure,” he adds. “There is also opportunity to use location and profiling data to deliver more responsive and personalised face-to-face customer service, whilst geo-tagging can also be used to introduce gamified ‘easter egg’ hunt style rewards in store. Once consumers realise that they are the ones in control, the technology will be embraced for the convenience, exclusivity, economy, playfulness and serendipity it can deliver.”