Economic and Consumer Trends to Watch in 2019

Euromonitor International predicts that the global economy will slow in 2019 to annual real GDP growth of 3.5% compared to 3.7% in 2018. Factors such as rising trade war uncertainty, Brexit and high global debt levels are weighing on growth potential.

On the positive side, unemployment in many advanced economies remains at all-time lows and although the Chinese economy continues to slow, we predict it is heading for a soft landing with real GDP growth of 6.1% forecast for China in 2019. Global consumer expenditure will account for 56.0% of world GDP in 2019, totalling US$48.7 trillion in constant terms, with consumer spending on education forecast to see the highest annual growth of consumer spending categories in real terms.

Key economic insights for 2019

Emerging economies’ annual real GDP growth is estimated to remain steady at 4.6% in 2018 and 2019. Emerging economies are estimated to account for just over three-quarters of global real GDP growth in 2019.

Against the backdrop of a world that is swiftly urbanising, cities are swelling in size to accommodate the ever-larger inflows of rural residents. Mumbai will maintain its status of being the most densely populated city in the world in 2019, with over 18,000 people per square kilometre.

In 2019, we expect to see more evidence of big brands fighting back against disruptors and playing insurgent brands at their own game by shortening the innovation cycle, building greater empathy with consumers, and harnessing their strengths – their scale, talent-pool and know-how – to drive market growth.

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Manufacturing digitisation, including virtual reality, supply chain managementand tracking, and data analytics tools, is expected to accelerate in 2019. Rising B2B demand for electronics and software tools will benefit the hi-tech goods industry. The global hi-tech goods industry is forecast to grow by 3.4% year-on-year in 2019 in real terms to US$6.6 trillion.

In 2019 science-based targets are expected to be the next sustainability game-changer, with businesses engaging with the UN’s sustainability goals to protect their brand reputation and achieve long-term sustainable growth.

Key consumer insights for 2019

Intelligence is the common thread linking Euromonitor’s Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2019, while empowered and connected consumers have evolved to leverage technology to manage nearly all of their lifestyle decisions.

According to Euromonitor International’s Digital Consumer Industry Insights survey, in terms of the most important commerce-specific development coming in the next 12 months, more than 60.0% of respondents view improving the customer journey and user experience as the most important initiative in 2019.

The mortgage market will reach a milestone in 2019 rising to more than 350 million homes with a mortgage globally. Stronger banking regulatory systems, maturing credit facilities in emerging markets and a growing banked population globally are driving the increase.

Polarisation continues to be a key feature of global consumer markets. In 2019, income inequality as measured by the Gini index is not expected to improve in 70 out of the 103 major countries that Euromonitor International has data for. While middle classes continue to be an important consumer base, businesses can find increasing opportunities at either end of the income spectrum.

Several lifestyle health issues will continue to be on the rise as a result of urbanisation and changing diets/lifestyles. For example, in North America, obesity is expected to reach 38.4% of the population aged 18+ in 2019, up from 34.0% in 2012. Health and healthy living will, therefore, continue to increase in importance in 2019 as a key determinant in consumers’ purchasing decisions and their lifestyles.

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