LONDON — In today’s retail environment, convenience is a commodity, and shoppers are willing to spend more for it.
“Post-recessionary consumers are prepared to pay for products that simplify their hectic on-the-go lives,” said Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, consumer trends consultant for Euromonitor International, a London-based market research company. “Technology plays a big part in attaining convenience, and omnichannel shopping options creates a seamless link between virtual and ‘real world’ shops with wide consumer appeal.”
In its Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2015 report, Euromonitor shared prevalent drivers behind the buying habits of today’s shopper. A rise in collaborative consumption and a new culture of sharing has sparked growth in such endeavors as community gardening, grouped workspaces and crowdfunding.
“In 2015, the sharing economy is growing and disrupting the way in which individuals think of space and ownership,” Ms Kasriel-Alexander said. “Consumers are increasingly preoccupied with access to goods rather than owning them outright.”
The value of convenience
More consumers are willing to purchase products that help them save time. Convenience stores and small neighborhood markets are thriving in many countries, as shoppers opt to buy less more often in a style Euromonitor called “top-up” shopping. The firm forecast sales in convenience stores in the United Kingdom to rise 2.5% this year, compared with a 0.2% increase at grocery retailers.
Malls in community mode
On-line shopping may be reshaping consumer spending habits, but 9 in 10 shoppers still prefer to buy in a brick-and-mortar store, according to a survey last year from management consultants A.T. Kearney. Malls are adopting a new focus on community and experience and remain revered social hubs in emerging markets, where international brands lure shoppers.
Consumers around the world also are showing favor for smaller, centrally located shopping centers over suburban megamalls.
Paying for privacy
Brands increasingly may promote personal privacy as a selling point in the wake of consumer anxiety over on-line data theft. Shoppers may be leery about location-based or targeted advertising linked to previous on-line searches, but others enjoy the tailored and personalized experience some web retailers offer. Companies may become more transparent in their use of data to ease concerns.
Consumption for a cause
In the rise of “conscious consumption,” brands are aligning with social causes, from environmental sustainability to female empowerment. As an example, an enterprise in Lisbon, Portugal, is collecting and selling less-than-perfect produce to address food waste.
Under the influence
Social media has provided a platform of expression for everyday consumers, who use video blogs and social networks to tout brands and trends.
“Ordinary consumers are already airing their purchasing grievances and joys via the ‘on-line megaphone,’” Ms. Kasriel-Alexander wrote in the report. “Consumers notice on-line reviews and trust them, and this is influencing buying decisions.”
Sharing is caring
The concept of lightweight living has given rise to a sharing economy, in which consumers increasingly are interested in access rather than ownership.
Collaborative consumption is less about saving money and more about convenience, innovation, community and environmental values, Euromonitor noted. Consumers are downsizing possessions and embracing a “pay-as-you-live” lifestyle by renting everyday items and purchasing media digitally.
Living in a millennial world
The overstimulated, oversharing generation known as millennials is more socially conscious and less brand-loyal than older consumers. Though immersed in consumer culture, this group of savvy shoppers buys fewer big-ticket items and uses technology to find the best prices and learn about trends.
Brands are responding to the habits of millennials. PepsiCo, for example, launched its Mtn Dew Kickstart caffeinated fruit juice beverage for these consumers, who exercise more than their parents did and consume energy drinks for breakfast.
Shopping the globe
More on-line shoppers are using overseas retailers to sidestep higher local prices. The trend has translated to real-world shopping, with consumers purchasing cheaper goods while traveling abroad to avoid tariffs. Brazilians flock to U.S. cities to save money on luxury items, and tech-savvy travelers are researching foreign shopping options on such platforms as Weixin, also known as WeChat, a mobile messaging service based in China.
An insatiable appetite for technology has blurred the lines between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping. The flexibility of multi-channel retailing may enable purchases of products not available in local stores.
Brands that are bonding with consumers on-line through contests and offers are expected to benefit from larger sales. Additionally, more products are incorporating digitally themed elements to appeal to on-line users.
Consumers are approaching health and wellness on a digital level, from tracking fitness and food intake to researching symptoms on-line. Health monitoring is spilling into social media, with users sharing and competing with friends on platforms from such brands as Nike and Adidas.
“Connected health is working for consumers in other ways, with social media and blogs seen as megaphones to pressure the food industry and others into greater transparency and into altering product formulations,” Ms. Kasriel-Alexander wrote in her report. “In an on-line environment, consumer complaints can become magnified.”
For example, when Renee Shutters, an American mother, created an on-line petition highlighting the negative effects synthetic food dyes in candy had on her son, such brands as Mars committed to exploring natural alternatives.