Q&A: Top 10 Consumer Trends for 2015

After we wrapped our Top 10 Consumer Trends for 2015 webinar, Pavel Marceux and I fielded a number of insightful questions from attendees. Some we were able to answer during the webinar. Others, I have answered below.

What do you think about ethical and green, also called sustainable consumption? Do you think so called ‘brand activism’ is just an empty promise?

Certainly, brands are striving to be more transparent, and getting involved in social issues because they want to appeal to consumers who care more about ethical consumption, but it seems that many of these efforts are more than just empty statements.  After all, it’s consumers that are giving most of the money to address social and community needs here, and today’s consumers are savvier and more demanding.

Craft site Etsy’s strapline reads “Join the movement rebuilding human-scale economies around the world” and I think it’s really doing this.

The designers of popular Beirut-based upcycled costume jewellery brand, Vanina, told the New York Times that their brand realised that fashion could be about more than just dressing clients up. It was a tool in their hand for delivering positive social messages.

The success of a Lisbon-based business collecting and selling ‘ugly fruit’ – run by energy consultant Isabel Soares, is also based on her genuinely green approach. Her brand seeks out produce failing the “dictatorship of aesthetics” in shops, which leads to food waste.

Mainstream brands squeezing into the sharing culture include Home Depot, now renting to people reluctant to buy rarely-used tools, and clothing brand Patagonia, which works with eBay to redistribute pre-owned items and extend its customer base.

 

What’s your view on consumers and privacy? Some want to expose details of their lives, others want to conceal things

In 2015, privacy matters, even to Millennials, previously notoriously careless about safeguarding it, and so brands will offer privacy as a selling point. But, yes, I’d agree that consumers in 2015 are ambivalent about privacy. On the one hand, they can be uncomfortable when brands capture details about them and about ‘leaky apps’, vulnerable ‘Internet of Things’ devices and similar headline-grabbing ‘privacy invasions’; on the other hand, they like it when brands use these insights to suggest purchases that might appeal, on Amazon, for instance. For many consumers, though, it’s a trade off, and ease of shopping trumps privacy.

 

Are we seeing an over-convergence of the real world and online world?

In some ways yes, consumers are getting a bit worried about how online time is perhaps too much part of their lives – as political blogger David Roberts puts it, he always had one eye on the virtual world – every bit of conversation was a potential tweet, every sunset a potential Instagram – before deciding to cut his time spent online.

And it is interesting that a clear understanding of how we live with a foot in both worlds often comes from those keen on disengagement from round-the-clock connectivity – and actually, some brands, including hotel resorts and restaurants, are promoting themselves as digitally-free retreats. One German online dating agency, is trying to ground online love in real world sensibilities.

Profiles on new smartphone app “on the contrary” – called “the slow dating movement” by its founders, have pictures taken by the app’s co-creators taken in the candidate’s homes – and a summary of the impression they made on the interviewer!

 

Are vloggers open to collaboration with brands?

Yes, it really seems so.  Social media marketers are identifying ‘influencers’ with a dynamic social media presence and these young personalities, who have become beauty and fashion ambassadors, can be harnessed to promote brands. They have found that vloggers are comfortable chatting in front of a camera, and importantly, are free of the reluctance of A-listers to link their names to a commercial activity.

Vloggers also have a sort of inbuilt activity to enhance publicity by sharing photos and tagging each other and so each other’s followers to updates. US social media marketing firm theAudience represents people and brands on social media and is drawn to young influencers like Tyler Perry who have loads of followers. It finds that just getting these young influencers together multiplies publicity.

 

How can shopping malls make themselves more community-minded?

I think the key thing is for malls to emphasise ‘things local’.  This could mean selling local produce and crafts, offering services such as medical and wellness consultations, shared workspaces, childcare provision, and exciting entertainment/culture with a local flavour, as well as local heritage exhibitions.