Consumer Trends 2016
Posted April 2016
Mintel revealed four macro-trends for 2016 that will shape the way consumers select Brands and how Brands develop product. The overarching themes of 2016 are “communication is key” and “embrace the individual”.
These themes are seen across four core trends: Balance or Bust, The Big Bang Theory, Eye Get It, Pride & Persona.
Balance or Bust
Balance or Bust identifies how consumers are becoming more extreme in their behavior while still trying to maintain life balance. For example:
Some consumers will binge watch TV, but then completely unplug from electronics for one day a week.
Someone might indulge in a bacon feast and then go on a 7 day juice cleanse.
Some consumers will wear full make-up six days a week and then go completely make-up free on the seventh day.
This way of living allows individuals to nourish each aspect of their personality while at the same time allowing them to feel like they can have it all.
Some services are tapping into this trend by giving consumers unlimited usage for a flat fee. That way, consumers can over-indulge for a while, but mostly their behavior normalizes over time. For example, there are private airlines that offer unlimited flights for a per month fee. And some AMC theaters are offering unlimited movies for a monthly fee.
Another manifestation of this trend is Brands offering consumers a smaller version of their product, like a mini frappe. This allows consumers to indulge in a decadent drink and watch their weight at the same time.
Within the personal care category, we see this trend manifested in the science versus nature tug-of-war. An increasing number of launches combine natural ingredients and scientific technology in one formulation. Brands know that consumers are looking for products that are natural and organic, but they also want the formulations to be effective and based on technology.
The Big Brand Theory
The Big Brand Theory is about consumers craving the story behind the products they purchase. The more a Brand shares about the development, production and humanitarian side of creating their product, the more loyal consumers will become- especially Millennials. In addition to being loyal to a Brand, consumers can become a Brand’s advocate by promoting them to friends and family.
Small batch products and craftsmanship also play a big role in this trend. Generally, consumers believe that there is quality and integrity in a product that has limited production or is made by hand. That said, this trend does not exclude large companies or Brands because this trend is more about telling a compelling story. For example, Domino’s Pizza has a pizza tracker that allows customers to see who is making their pizza and where it is in the process. And they have expanded their menu to include artisan-style pizza.
In the world of personal care products, the Direct Sell category is growing very quickly – and for good reason. It is a perfect business model for story telling because the consumers have direct interaction with the sales consultants, who often have compelling, personal stories to tell.
Finally, consumers are using Brands to communicate who they are. For example, take someone who says they are a craft beer consumer. That translates to: I am willing to pay more for quality; I am looking for unique, well-made, artisan-type products; and I support local businesses.
Eye Get It
A picture is worth a thousand words! Who has time to read when all that needs to be said can be summed up in an image? With constant access to everything, and life moving at the speed of light, visual communication is saving time and breaking down barriers.
Emojis are now the fastest growing form of language. An emoji is a small digital picture or pictorial symbol that represents a thing, feeling, concept, etc. They are used in text messages and other electronic communications and they are everywhere.
Facebook is adding emojis to their site; Sony is creating an emoji movie. Even Brands are embracing emojis. Dove Personal Care brand launched a “love your curly hair” campaign with emojis that represent women with different types of curly hair.
Another sign that visual communication is taking over is that Instagram is growing faster than Twitter. The Brand Glossier decided to launch its products via Instagram. The Brand started by setting the mood and seeding interest with the help of some celebrities. After accumulating 13,000 followers, the Brand introduced its products.
Some final points:
Consumers are looking for images that tell them what the product does and whether it is what they are looking for.
Images acknowledging what real people look like are gaining a lot of traction.
Images showing how as a society we are recognizing and embracing each person as an individual are really resonating.
Pride and Persona
The fourth 2016 trend, Pride and Persona, is about companies and Brands connecting in a more meaningful way with consumers by developing a sense of personality. If consumers understand the entire Brand story, they can better align themselves with Brands that stand for what they believe in.
For example: When creating a Brand, marketers are increasingly thinking about that Brand as a whole being. What does that Brand stand for? What are the Brand’s long-term goals? How does the Brand communicate with its many different constituents?
Brands are also creating products and content for small groups and individuals. For example, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream came out with a non-dairy line for those consumers that are lactose intolerant.
Consumers will respect and gravitate toward brands they feel are authentic. They want companies to stand-up for what they believe. Whether or not the consumer shares the same belief system, at least they will know that the Brand is honest. When Brands stand for something, it translates to good business.
Some additional points:
41% of consumers say they would like to see regular people in ads – so more ads are now featuring seniors and people with disabilities.
There is a move away from gender specific messages. For example, Target has removed all of the gender specific signage from the toy aisles of their stores.
88% of teens feel that purchases are about connection and not just transaction.