Consumers in 2019: reconciling 5 competing trends

Looking ahead at the push-pull of connectivity, conscious consumption, and our collective obsession with wellness.

2019 will be a quest for equilibrium between humans and technology, brand and personal, global and local, says Forbes. Consumers are also on the lookout for a healthy balance of both escape and reality, featuring a pendulum shift back from the imagined to the real... maybe.

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#Connected

“We are constantly connected, and this impacts our behavior, our health, and our relationships with others and the world around us,” says Mintel. So while it’s easy to get a message heard, everyone is on display — and that competition for attention is intensifying, along with the scrutiny and backlash for both brands and individuals. Plus, we are starting to recognize that living our lives in front of screens “creates mental and physical health issues” including loneliness and social isolation, as Mintel reiterated at their January 2019 “Big Conversation” in Chicago. This could be why Adweek’s look at Shutterstock creative trends notes that the leading 2019 design themes might represent “a desire to escape the anxieties of modern life.”

Phygital Life

“Phygital retail” — a term initially coined by the Retail Doctor, Bob Phibbs — is the blend of digital and brick-and-mortar shopping (think: Bonobos guide shops, Google’s pop-up hardware store). And it’s what we’re seeing now, as consumers are trying to cut back on tech use and get out to explore in the name of health. (Except that we’re using social media to find out where to go for our digital detox — how confusing!) Still, as many as 66% of 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK are making an effort to cut down on social media usage, says Mintel’s 2019 Global Consumer Trends report, and new brands and services are trying to bring people out of social isolation and back together IRL. Mintel predicts that brands will develop new strategies to foster these personal connections. Forbes’ outline of global trends predicts that this mélange will continue, and that brick-and-mortar may experience a renaissance as a tie-in to green living.

Conscious consumption

We’re becoming more conscious of our experiences and our consumption. This is playing out in green living, whole-body wellness, and our desire for individuality. We’re also more aware of how we spend our time and craving products that assist us on-the-go. Diversity, inclusivity, and self-expression (think: customization and color cosmetics as decoration rather than enhancement) will continue to play a major role in beauty — and brands that are stuck in an old mold, or any mold at all, will be ditched in favor of inclusive brands that further self-expression, Forbes predicts.

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Experts, Please

We live in a world of pseudo-experts and influencers — but there is a growing desire for brand expertise. “22% of French women aged 25-34 believe a brand’s scientific background is important when choosing skincare products,” says Mintel. Whether or not “influencer fatigue” is real (Euromonitor’s “everyone’s an expert” trend seems to say otherwise), it is certainly appropriate for beauty brands to get back in the driver’s seat to educate and engage with their customers directly. According to Mintel, this is how brands can move from “being seen as suppliers, to being seen as experts.”

Health-forward

We’re not only living longer, but we’re also embracing our age, and it’s making us live younger. We take care of ourselves with preventative treatments to stay healthy and balanced physically, mentally, and spiritually, says Euromonitor. At the same time, consumers are embracing natural external aging as part of a larger search for authenticity of the self. “[Consumers] want products and services that help them stay as youthful as possible in mind and body, not trying to change things — just look and be the best they can."

What does it all mean? For one thing, consumers are on a quest for authenticity in an increasingly filtered world. And with more opportunities to reach everyday people, brands can serve as a guide and offer a path toward connection and, ultimately, better health. Our recommendation: Be aware, be authentic, and be compassionate — three evergreen ‘fads’ that never fade.