The New Consumerism: Redefining Ownership, Values and Priorities

As consumers reassess their priorities and increasingly ask themselves what they truly value, a host of major consumer trends have emerged: from the sharing economy to the preference given to experience over possessions, to frugal innovation and trading up and down. This shift towards new priorities, which we have christened “The New Consumerism”, is impacting across a multitude of industry sectors and has the power to transform even the most established markets. We will be using all aspects of Passport to help explore this area of consumer behaviour and its impact on business in a wide ranging series of articles and reports, starting with our new strategy briefing: The New Consumerism: Redefining Ownership, Values and Priorities.

The New Consumerism

The New Consumerism uncovered

The eight trends which are combining to form the New Consumerism are:

  • The sharing economy: this is all about supply and demand. Connecting people and businesses with the resources to those that want them. It removes market inefficiencies, empowers consumers and has disrupted, or has the potential to disrupt, a wide range of sectors.
  • The circular economy: one where everything is reused and nothing is wasted. It is the antithesis of the linear “build, buy, bury” model of a one-way stream of raw material to factory, to user, then landfill. It has the potential to completely transform the way in which we do business.
  • Experience: the prioritisation of doing, seeing and feeling over having more “stuff”. The trend is more than this though, with many consumers seeking to “do something different”, searching for unique, often personalised experiences.
  • Buying time: is increasingly an option for today’s consumers for whom time has become a crucial commodity. This is about more than just convenience, but increasingly about outsourcing tasks. Time has become a luxury in today’s connected world.
  • Trading places: consumers are more willing than ever to compromise in some areas in order to splash out in others. Although the middle was already feeling the pinch, the financial crisis was an important catalyst for the trading up and down phenomenon. Consumers became smarter shoppers, not ashamed to look for bargains, and technology has also contributed to this.
  • Frugal innovation signifies eliminating non-essential and often costly features from a product or service. At its heart, frugal innovation is about focusing on customers, observing their core needs and designing products, services and business models that meet these needs.
  • Space for life: is the trend for smaller living spaces – whether through choice or circumstance. The drivers of this trend are complex: urbanisation and the increase in single-person households play a part. For some it’s a positive choice, but for others it’s because of financial constraints, and life in a small footprint is less welcome.
  • The gig economy: is the move away from a “job for life” to a working life characterised by short-term contracts, freelance work and entrepreneurship. It is heralded by many as the future of work. It has a two-fold impact on business – with implications on how to manage the workforce, and also on changes in consumer lifestyles and consumption and social trends.


Read more on the New Consumerism and its implications for business in our new global report: The New Consumerism: Redefining Ownership, Values and Priorities.