Top Global Consumer Trends

“MEN are becoming more like women, children want to be teenagers, and we are all spending more time in our homes – these are three of the ten ‘mega-trends’ that are shaping the future of our consumer society.”

This quote is from the Scotsman, writing about the top 10 consumer trends that will shape 2005. The article is written from the perspective of the United Kingdom. It cites the extensive “Global Consumer Trends” report from research firm Datamonitor.

What are the top 10 global consumer trends according to Datamonitor?

  • Age Complexity

    Children are acting and thinking older. Anyone with children knows kids seem more mature, with pre-teens behaving like teenagers. And adults are acting more like kids (you knew that, too, right?). What it means for business is that you will have to appeal to teen attributes for kids, and bring out the youngster in all us adults.

  • Gender Complexity

    Metrosexuality is in — men are behaving more like women, and women are behaving more like men. Well, that’s true if you follow traditional views of behavioral distinctions between men and women. Here is the observation of the Scotsman article: “Women have moved into many traditionally “male” employment areas and are earning more. There are also more women entering tertiary education, and they are marrying later or staying single. Women’s drinking habits have radically changed too. *** At the same time, men are becoming more feminised as they take an active role in parenting, become more fashion-oriented and develop beauty regimes, including opting for plastic surgery.”

  • Lifestage Complexity

    Is the nuclear family (father, mother and children) slowly going the way of the dinosaur? The report cites significant family changes. More people live alone, do not get married, or do not have children at all.

  • Income Complexity

    High income groups are spending on “anti-luxury” (i.e., shopping for discounts), while lower income groups splurging on luxury items. Look for discount shopping outlets to grow, at the same time premium goods and services also grow.

  • Individualism

    Individualism has always been somewhat an American trait, but now it is a trend becoming more marked in Europe, Latin America and Asia — even the Middle East. What that means for marketers, retailers and consumer goods manufacturers is that brands will have to speak clearly to their targets. Products must have any number of flavors, styles, colors and variations to suit individual tastes.

  • Homing

    Faith Popcorn made this concept famous with coining the term “cocooning.” Consumers are spending more time at home. In turn this leads to growth in businesses catering to consumers at home, including home entertainment (think cable TV and DVD sales), as well as restaurant-quality food and beverages for home. Datamonitor also reports that globally a greater number and variety of workers will work from home.

  • Connectivity

    Technology (instant message, mobile phones and email) are keeping us all connected. People also have an increased desire for belonging to the greater community. Even manufacturers have gotten into the act, with products that encourage breaking the ice, such as Molson Twin Label beer bottle labels that get people talking to one another.

  • Sensory Experiences

    People are seeking out more intense experiences. Extreme sports, long action-packed weekends, aromatherapy, authentic ethnic foods, even intense flavors of soft drinks — all play to our needs for sensations and sensory experiences.

  • Convenience

    People are eating on the go, frequenting convenience stores, and buying products that offer greater convenience. Look for self-heating cans and fast-chilling drinks.

  • Health

    Health and well-being is much more at the forefront of people’s minds, with sales of healthy, de-stressing and self-medicating products booming. Products that cross over trends — for instance, combining health with convenience — will also be big. Convenience foods that are perceived as healthy are one example.

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in our series of articles on 2005 trends predictions. We are comparing and contrasting trends predictions from different sources, to give you a well-rounded view of trends to anticipate and capitalize on, in the small business market. See our 2005 Trends index for more.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

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