26 October 2014

Mintel identifies four consumer trends for ANZ in 2015

Mintel has shared four wide-ranging key consumer trends for 2015, and what this will mean for both consumers and brands in the year ahead, particularly for businesses which are in B2C retail, food, healthcare, technology and sports:

Businesses bowing to consumer demands 

Growing awareness of customer rights and corporate misbehaviour will see consumers demand more fairness and justice from companies, with consumer input becoming almost integral.

“Consumer rights are back in the spotlight on the 800th anniversary of the first-ever citizen’s bill of rights, the Magna Carta. More recently, the ability to exercise one’s rights was on display in uprisings that caught the world’s attention – namely Brazilians’ fury at perceived government squandering of resources in the name of the World Cup and the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign regarding the kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria. The decline of deference is set to escalate in the consumer space as customers are variously empowered and presented with provocative facts on corporate practice,” said Mintel’s Senior Trends & Innovation Consultant Jane Barnett.

“Consumers are exercising their rights at the cash register around the globe, purchasing only brands that align with their ideals on marriage equality, minimum wage and even political party affiliations. The consumer movement at hand finds consumers demanding openness from companies — more information, responsibility and accountability. In the event that they do not feel that companies are forthcoming, they are willing to organise, even if it is just behind a hashtag. What’s changing is that consumers are no longer just enlivened by the ability to protest, they also are coming to expect that even social media campaigns will force their desired outcome.”

“Companies are facing real pressure from consumers who demand clarity on things like ingredients in food, treatment of workers and online terms and conditions. For those companies that are not proactive or are seen as insincere, we expect to see a continuation of protests against these real, and perceived, transgressions. In 2015, companies globally will increasingly be forced to apologise, admit their mistakes and show a human face. To ignore the will (however fickle) of the people could foster a growth in boycotts.”

Barnett noted that technology has transformed protests from organised marches to a bare-minimum of ‘clicktivism,’ or the ability to express one’s opinion, support or dislike through online petitions, viral video views and social media posts. “The need to be heard is rising, especially since being informed and active is no longer a requirement for protesting. ‘Clicktivism’ provides people with the feeling that they have the power to help get things done with minimal effort. While many digital activists are not financially involved in the cause, we could see a new movement following the summer 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that successfully combined self documentation with promises of monetary donations," she said. 

"And recently consumers have begun to see the power these viral revolts can have, indeed we’ve seen food and drink companies as large as PepsiCo, reformulate products based on blogger campaigns and online petitions.”

Eating better
People are becoming more informed about their health and are increasingly seeking out superfoods free from chemicals and additives, locally and seasonally sourced, added Mintel.

“In 2014, we saw health becoming increasingly important in ANZ, and consumers are seeking out new ways to get healthier – a trend set to become even more important in 2015. Information and public health campaigns from governments about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise regime, along with personalities in mainstream and social media is creating sub groups of people subscribing to new lifestyles and diets, think Paleo, Vegan, Organic, Raw, Dukin and Atkins. 

"Every month or so there seems to be a ‘superfood’ to end all superfoods, and consumers are buying them in droves, leading to world shortages of foods including kale and quinoa. In 2015, consumers will increasingly seek out natural options and local (according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database [GNPD] all natural product claims in new products have increased from 4% to 8% over the last 5 years) seasonal produce will only become more popular,“ said Barnett.

Barnett said the Australian almond industry had produced from 10,000 tonnes in the past 10 years to 78,000 tonnes in 2013 as Paleo and vegan consumers shunned dairy and soy in favour of nut and seed milks. "Almond milk has experienced growth of 93% and oat milk has risen 38%. New grain milks including quinoa, coconut and blends of different nuts and seeds are also increasing in popularity. The percentage of products with vegan and no animal ingredients claims have doubled, from 3% in 2009 to 6% in 2014. Conversely, vegetarian claims have increased at a similar rate, increasing from 4% to 9% in the last five years,” she said.

“Sourcing of food and drinks that consumers are increasingly demanding are leading to worldwide shortages. Furthermore, consumers are less trusting of big business and need to be assured that they are not being misled about sourcing or processes. Consumers will be buying less packaged foods, will demand more organic produce for a reasonable price, and will move beyond the supermarkets and towards farmers markets and the like if they can’t get what they want. Reduction of chemicals and additives is crucial, and the use of processes such as cold pressed and raw food will be more in demand.

“Detoxing, and in particular juice detoxes, have been increasing in popularity, off the back of numerous celebrities who advocate the fasts as a way to cleanse the body of impurities. Vegan, raw food diets are becoming much more mainstream, and ‘wellness warriors’ preaching their lifestyle choices are gaining more momentum and notoriety. While the extreme lifestyles have of course attracted some criticism, they have also gained support, which they have capitalised on.”

Barnett added that quitting sugar is the latest global trend, one that is particularly strong in Australia. "This trend is driving increased interest in natural sweeteners like stevia. According to Mintel’s GNPD low/no/reduced sugar claims have also increased, from 6% in 2009 to 8% in 2014," she said. “In 2015, there will continue to be huge interest in superfoods and more ‘alternative’ diets and lifestyles, but the issue will be sourcing. With quinoa and kale experiencing shortages, Australians will need to look elsewhere for their superfood benefits. Predictions are that cauliflower, brussel sprouts and amaranth will become some of the most in-demand superfoods for 2015.”

Get smart and connect up

The world of synced devices will go mainstream as trusted companies move into the market and join the convenience-driven, data-collection revolution.

“Smart devices – from watches to ceiling fans – appeal to consumers because they save time and money, promise convenience, control, knowledge and self-analysis. What’s changing is that this is no longer the domain of startups offering home hub hardware – the major players are now embracing the trend and raising consumer confidence in it,” Barnett said.

“While on a local level, Australian startup company Smash Wearables has launched a wearable product specifically for tennis enthusiasts, globally, Apple and Google are both introducing ecosystems to compete for leadership in the connected home, and retailers are also pushing synced devices.

“New software is also coming on to the market to make it easier for consumers to sync their mobile devices with their health monitoring tools and home appliances helped by the participation of Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit in its development.”

Mintel predicts that a bevy of new products in 2015 – from tablets, to smartwatches and smart TVs – will also pique consumer interest in syncing up. OPhone ‘scent messaging’ devices are emerging, and theoretically allow consumers to remotely fragrance their homes or send odours as a form of communication.

"But it’s important to consider that smart devices needn’t be about health or home economics – they can be about aesthetics and ambience as well," Barnett stressed.

“Globally, smart devices have already been adopted by consumers to a degree, but the potential is far greater... over one in ten (13%) Chinese consumers say that they have a wearable digital product in their household. Australians have rushed to show their interest in wearable technology, with a 2013 study finding that 35% of those surveyed had already used some form of wearable technology.”

Sports will see wearables too, with the introduction into Australia of the Ref-Cam in 2014, a wearable mini-camera for referees being used in the National Rugby League (NRL). "The world’s biggest provider of GPS tracking devices for professional sportsmen and women operates out of a small factory in South Melbourne, Catapult Sports,” Barnett said.

The instant gratification of E@sy Street
The fourth trend, Mintel says, is the spread of on-demand, instant gratification culture of the digital age spreading to the established retail world.

“The Internet has disrupted traditional approaches to shopping, setting up an expectation not just of convenience, but of immediacy. There are over 24.4 million active mobile phone subscriptions across Australia, which has led to a widespread uptake of mobile shopping. Some 30% of all Australian internet users aged between 15 and 65 have purchased goods online with a smartphone and 19% with a tablet, in the last 12 months,” Barnett said.

“At the heart of this trend is that our on-demand, instant gratification culture is spreading. This will bring us more delivery apps and high quality vending options across a variety of product categories. Accessibility of 3D printers could lead to consumers being able to print a product that solves a problem, shortening the design and delivery cycle even more.”

The melding of online with physical traditional retail continues. “We’re seeing brick-and-mortar retailers meld with the digital as more locations offer in-store pick-up for online orders. And the ability to get hands-on with what was formerly only virtual could gain more customers for these e-commerce retailers. We’re also seeing services bridge the gap, for example in the UK, ASOS' Local Letterbox eliminates the mystery of online shopping offering fitting rooms in supermarkets, gyms, transit stations and malls where people can try on online purchases," Barnett remarked.

“But while online sales continue to grow, the online experience offers a mixed response for some worldwide shoppers... the need to see products in person remains high in China, as nearly seven in 10 Chinese adults say it is necessary to visit brick and mortar stores before buying products online.”

The "at-your-convenience” expectation is likely to spread to other customer service-based industries, Mintel forecasts. "We predict that consumers will want to see more customised, on-demand access in banking, healthcare and other services. It won’t be enough to have Google and Wikipedia answer your 3 am questions, people will expect to have an expert just a video call away,” Barnett said.

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Read the blog post about Catapult's athlete tracking system here.