Exploring macro trends and preparing for the unexpected
Given the uncertain times we find ourselves in, it’s more important than ever to understand and use accurate trend forecasting. Discover some of Trend Bible’s vital advice and insight into dealing with unexpected events and future-proofing your business.
As we know, things can change rapidly, and this can have a huge impact on consumers’ attitudes and behaviours overnight. When we look at the cultural and environmental impacts that the coronavirus pandemic, along with the Black Lives Matter and Shop Local movements have had, there are some fundamental shifts to consider:
Where do we spend our time?
Before the pandemic, shopping was a leisure activity. Now, we have transitioned to and are continuing to move towards an era where leisure has been taken from retail both because of the lockdown and because of the rise of online shopping in general. In this position, there has been a paradigm shift and leisure is not part of the retail experience and offering; leisure is something to sell. This shift means that the role of retail and public spaces has changed, and retail has become a secondary concern on our high streets and in our public places, rather than the main event.
How do we spend our time?
The most notable shift in how consumers are spending their time is in play and in virtual worlds. As children’s play has evolved from spending time outside together to spending time virtually together in digital worlds, the way children play and how independent and social they are is changing. As we move towards a more interior view of life, it’s likely that we will also see adults embracing these virtual worlds.
How do we shop?
As mentioned above there has been a marked shift towards ecommerce; with virtual malls in our pockets we are transitioning from physical shopping centres and spaces. Instagram and livestream shopping is coming into its own and has already become hugely popular in early adopter countries such as China. The rise of digital shopping means that consumers are now a far more captive audience and are accessible to brands within their own homes
Who are we influenced by?
The nature of influence has fundamentally changed; where once the editor of a favourite glossy magazine was a top influencer, we’re now seeing the rise of Instagram influencers who could be anyone at all. The nature of influence is now more democratic, allowing any one to be an influencer and anyone to access that content. Niche tribes on the internet are forming as the rise of the micro influencer directs product development in the direction of much more specific target markets.
What products are we drawn to?
2020 is the start of a trend for evolution in the products parents buy for their children. Hand in hand with the rise of influence comes the rise of “Instagrammable activities” and parents are looking for products that are fun for their child and that fit with their own Instagram aesthetic as well.
Looking to the future
Market research and data are all well and good, but they can only get you so far. Consumer groups might tell what they want or are ready for now, but they can’t tell you how they’ll feel in the future. In this way, it’s important to start to gather some of your own research, intel and date outside of your customers, outside of your business and even outside of your industry.
This may take some time, but Naomi gives us a framework with which to start building out a trend prediction; the Pyramid of Adoption. She says, “the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed”. Using the Pyramid of Adoption, we can start to map the niche customers in the market who are starting to give signs of what will become mainstream within the next five years.
The Pyramid is outlined as follows:
TIER ONE: Weak Signals. Within this tier we have the mavens or innovators. Making up just 2.5% of population these are the unique and creative people, the risk takers. Mavens are the people doing things nobody else would dream of doing.
TIER TWO: Early Signs. Otherwise known as early adopters these are the individuals who have recognised maven trends and behaviours and are starting to commercialise them for a mainstream audience.
TIER THREE: Growing Evidence. Making up 35% of the market, people in this group are known as the early majority and are the first group of mainstream customers to adopt a trend.
TIER FOUR: Saturate the Market. Making up another 35% of the market, people in this group are known as the late majority and solidify a trend’s presence within the market.
What influences changes in behaviour?
It’s not just the mavens and early adopters that bring trends forward though. Changes in attitudes and behaviours are usually initiated by two or three “mega trends” that nudge people in a certain direction. For example, the Tokyo Olympics, combined with an increased focus on slowing down life and a move to “post consumerism” all merged to create the trend for Japanese craftsmanship and lifestyle philosophies. “Triangulating” forecasts and influences in this way is a key method that can help to shape understanding of upcoming trends.
Where are we now?
The pandemic is what Trend Bible term a “black swan event”. This is a situation that is unpredictable and has a dramatic impact on every aspect of daily life. These events tend to accelerate change and bring predictions forward on their timelines.
Coronavirus has been more disruptive than previous black swan events, such as 9/11 and the 2008 recession, and whilst the situation itself is temporary, that doesn’t mean behaviours will shift right away; the changes we’re seeing now are likely to stick. As with other black swan events, the lockdown has facilitated and sped up behavioural changes that consumers were already looking to make, such as slowing down, travelling less and this is more than likely to remain the case.
Working from home is just one of these changes in behaviour, and it’s more than likely that now that we have learned how to do this, we will choose to continue to do so.
That being said, our focus on home has not created a “hermit consumer”. When shops opened, people did return to them albeit more cautiously than before.
However, we are still in the process of defining a new world post-pandemic and normal does not exist yet. The behaviours and attitudes that have been influenced by the lockdown might still fluctuate as the world adjusts, and this is likely to be the case until the end of 2021.
As consumer mindsets continue to evolve and adapt to this life-changing event, Trend Bible have been tracking some trends that are developing out of the pandemic; Conscious Choices and Resocialising.
Conscious Choices is not only about ethics and sustainability, but also the financial aspects of consumerism. We know that financial uncertainty will be prevalent, at least for the next year, and this is likely to dampen consumer confidence when it comes to spending. As we spend more time at home, homeware spending will continue to bounce back, but customers will be looking for feel good items rather than luxury pieces.
Ethical shopping will continue to be a priority for consumers and with more online purchases taking place, shoppers are becoming more and more aware of how brands operate from a sustainable and ethical perspective, will use this to decide which brands they want to support. This will have an impact on brands that rely on habitual shopping habits, as consumers will start to scrutinise every aspect of their day to day spending and which brands they support.
Stories will also become more important to consumers as they start to look at more meaningful gifting as well as look for inclusivity in the products they buy. The trend will swing to a “you are what you buy” mentality and purchases and gifts will be more considered as people see their purchases as a reflection of themselves.
Hyper-essentialism will also play a role as customers reconsider what the word “essential” means. Essential items will be those that bring customers joy, and in this way, value is reconsidered. Consumers will be looking to upgrade their home products little and often based on what makes an impact to their lives. Daily rituals such as lighting a scented candle or making a “proper” coffee speak to the art of doing nothing and the trend for wellbeing and selflove.
Resocialising looks at how connection has changed during the pandemic. Interaction and communication have come into sharper focus during the last six months and as a result relationships have changed. As we move into a new normal, we are learning new habits and the power of connection has grown. However, as we regain our freedoms, screen-free bonding has taking on a new significance.
Naturally, the gift and greetings industry has really thrived during this time as “just because” gifting takes on importance. Daily appreciation for friends and family has become a top priority for consumers, and a re-evaluation of which relationships are important has occurred. As they are with the products they buy, consumers are placing importance on the relationships they value and that bring them joy. Platonic love continues to become a cause for celebration and a factor that is essential for happiness.
As lockdowns lift “revenge celebrations” will also come to the fore with bigger investment in parties and gatherings for Christmas 2020 and beyond.
Whilst home continues to be the centre of consumers’ lives, upgrading the home for entertainment purpose is a priority and this will change the way consumers spend their time both in and out of the home. Hot tubs, bars and technology are all becoming more popular as consumers look to make an occasion from the everyday and share more about their lives online. Other leisure activities, like puzzling and arts and crafts will allow customers to recuperate and unwind and a shift to a more individualistic aesthetic is likely to lead to a “play and display” mindset where consumers celebrate their creativity.
Watch Naomi’s session on demand to find out more about how you can use macro trends to prepare your business for the future.
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