“The challenge is to use automation as something that gives us more time to focus on being more human,” notes Mintel spokesperson on a key trend.
Stemming from a set of six key trends, Mintel has identified the biggest areas of opportunity—defined as those with the broadest demographic and market coverage and greatest commercial product, service and packaging potential—for businesses targeting the global consumer market over the next five to 10 years.
“Mintel Futures examines cross category, cross-sector consumer trends, enabling organizations to stay one step ahead,” said Richard Cope, director of insight and trends at Mintel. “We have devised the Mintel Futures initiative to be a wake-up call for clients—something to stimulate team discussion, suggest new projects and strategic approaches and pose questions for their business. It works because its longer term outlook avoids the limitations of a year ahead approach and is more actionable for our clients who are in the planning stages of activity set to impact in the same timeframes we are looking toward.”
Two key trends highlighted by Mintel as part of the Mintel Futures initiative are Human and Generation Next.
Human: Automation and mass production will continue to make life easier, but consumers and companies will react by valuing—and promoting—human service and artisan goods.
Today’s consumers are chiefly experiencing automatic service in the form of storefront retail technologies, such as self-checkout terminals and mobile self-scanners, and many are warming to the concept. Mintel’s research to date suggests there may also be even further opportunity in this area. Automated service can appeal, and in Mintel’s Color Cosmetics UK August 2012 report, 28% of women say they find sales assistants at beauty counters intimidating, whilst in Mintel’s Hotels U.S. November 2012 report 30% of hotel guests say they wish there were more opportunities for automated service at hotels so they could interact less with hotel staff.
“Moving forward, automation is going to be about cutting to the chase, skipping past laborious processes, to get us to the experience or the product more quickly,” Cope adds. “For companies this means offering a choice between human expertise and automated fast-tracking in service, and adding customer customization and artisan suppliers to the product supply line. Man and machine are not at war, and the challenge is to use automation as something that gives us more time to focus on being more human.”
This is reflected in Mintel’s Shopping for Home Décor U.S. April 2012 report, where that 40% of U.S. households earning $150k+ prefer to buy handmade home décor items than mass-produced ones, and in Mintel’s Watches and Jewelry UK September 2012 report, which finds that 36% of women “like to buy jewelry with unusual or unique design.”
Generation Next: A poor economy is challenging teenagers’ ability to rebel, to progress and to stay healthy, but they are also better connected than their parents and growing up in an era where sustainability and gender equality are higher on the agenda. This means teens need —and expect—more from companies.
Today’s teens are more health conscious, with smoking, drug and alcohol consumption in decline, but they can also be surprisingly ill-informed. Furthermore, the priorities of this generation have shifted from the more reckless attitudes of generations past. Indeed, nearly one in five (19%) of UK 16-24s say saving money/paying off debt is their priority (the top response) in Mintel’s Lifestyles of Young Adults UK 2012 report, while 30% say leading a healthier lifestyle is a priority. Furthermore, Mintel’s Spending Habits of the Teen Consumer U.S. August 2011 report finds that 87% of U.S. teens agree that “Credit cards are dangerous because they allow you to spend more money than you actually have.” The paradox is growing up in a better-connected world has caused them to lead more virtual, sedentary and less physically-active lives than previous generations. As a result, their good intentions demand a helping hand from companies in the food, beverage, health and beauty sectors.
“Young people are defined by a dichotomy in that they have turned away from the reckless spending and vices of their elders, but developed their own health problems—sedentary lifestyles, obesity and depression—that are crying out for corporate help. To capitalize on the potential of this next generation of key consumers, companies must acknowledge that teens are growing up in the midst of debates surrounding sustainability, ethical sourcing and gender equality and may need to be more transparent, more ethical and more progressive to win their favor and custom,” Richard Cope continues.
Additional trends highlighted by the Mintel Futures initiative include:
Old Gold: Whether retired, working or in need of care, the elderly are the key consumer demographic.
East Meets West: Asia can become the key cultural, as well as commercial, influence.
Access Anything Anywhere: Our smartphones and tablets won’t just change the way we communicate, they will change the way we live.
Brand Intervention: The state will force corporations to become more responsible for consumers.
Mintel’s global analyst team will continue to quantify and explore Mintel Futures on a daily basis through expert analysis, commissioned consumer research, category level analysis, product and packing level analysis and client discussions to ensure that they stay relevant and updated for Mintel’s client base, enabling clients to anticipate consumer demand while planning ahead.