Clean Lifers: A Top Consumer Trend for 2018

Consumers are adopting more clean-living, minimalist lifestyles, where moderation and integrity are key. Clustering around educated 20-29-year-olds, a new generation of “straight-edge” consumers has grown up knowing deep recession, terrorism and troubled politics, with a wider world view than previous generations and they are keen to secure a more ordered existence for themselves.


Saying no…

Clean Lifers have strong beliefs and ideals. They are less tolerant, more sceptical. They feel they can make a difference, and this influences their spending choices. This means more saying no: no to alcohol; no to unhealthy habits; no to animal-based products; and, increasingly, no to unmeasured or informed spending. Their need to impress is less through ownership and more through experiences they want to share.

Clean Lifers prefer to stay in and relax rather than hit a nightclub. A night out to a club is expensive, short-lived, and not particularly healthy or safe. Clean Lifers would rather spend their money on experiences, such as weekends away, festivals and restaurants, where they are able to chat with friends, or healthier social alternatives, such as hosting fitness class parties from yoga to high-intensity workouts.

Clean Lifers are turning their backs on recreational drugs, abstaining from drinking or reducing their alcohol intake, becoming more minimalist in their spending choices, determined to lead responsible lives. The vegan movement is already in full-swing, and 2018 will see a further push by Clean Lifers to eradicate animal-based products from all areas of their lives. Clean lifers are hardcore in their abstemiousness choices, be it veganism, avoiding alcohol or other lifestyle choices, but they are influential, and the trend will spread to others, who will dip-in.


Response to clean lifers

These attitudes and preferences are major disruptors for businesses.

Abstinence, allied to the need to control image and body shape, is shifting the socialising landscape. From alcohol-free festivals and morning raves through to collective meditation events and fitness nightclubs, all are showing strong growth. One example is Daybreaker, which started in 2013 in a coffee shop basement in Brooklyn, following a group of clean-living friends’ negative experiences in nightclubs. It promotes early morning sober fitness raves with, for example, yoga and abandoned dancing. It has connected so well with the growing clean-living generation that it is now operating across America, and rapidly expanding globally, including in the UK and Hong Kong.

With sobriety rising, there is frustration at the poor range of options in terms of low alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks, especially when socialising in bars and restaurants. The choice of carbonated drinks such as cola or traditional juices is limited, particularly for an increasingly sophisticated audience. There have been some developments in juices and mocktails from niche brands and bar operators. Diageo’s acquisition of Seedlip, the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits company, and Dutch brewer Heineken’s launch of its namesake non-alcoholic beer demonstrate that major companies see the importance of the clean-living trend and want to enter this space. This is against a background of global growth in sales of non-alcoholic beer.