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Helping British consumers search for solace: Key trends for the year ahead

by David Crosbie , 25.10.2017

As we look towards 2018, the one thing we can be certain about the year ahead is that there is going to be a lot of uncertainty. Britain’s departure from the European Union, what it will look like and the impact it could have on the country’s economy will hang over many consumers. What is certain, however, is that consumers’ attitudes, behaviors and values will continue to be affected by everything that’s going on around them, and these changes form the key consumer trends that brands and companies need to address in the next twelve months. Anticipating consumer needs is best way to connect with them, and to that end we’ve identified nine cross-category consumer trends for the year ahead.

Releasing the stress

One of the most striking findings from our 2017 research is the growing impact of stress on UK consumers. In 2015, 67% of Brits cited at least one of a list of 14 items as being a major cause of stress in their lives. This year, the same figure was 90%. The causes of stress are many and varied, with money being the most frequently cited, followed by the pressure people put on themselves.

Two of our nine trends relate directly to helping people relieve the stress or pressure they feel in their daily lives. Streamlined Convenience highlights the fact that consumers are increasingly willing to pay for products and services that make their lives easier (a growth of nine percentage points since 2011), while Instant Everywhere talks to the expectation that goods and service should be immediately and constantly available when needed. Indeed, a growing proportion of the population are willing to settle for an inferior product if it’s available when they need it, which could pose a threat to established brands. Another coping mechanism is finding new and effective ways to maintain physical and mental wellbeing and combat stress; a topic that is covered in our trend called Fitspiration.

Going even greener

One area that could be a source of stress (or on the positive side a means of self-actualization) is the environmental and ethical credentials of the purchases we make. In particular, consumers increasingly feel guilty when they do something that is not environmentally friendly, which is covered by our Green Guilt trend. At the same time, many increasingly think about the provenance of what they’re buying, which we term Considered Consumption.

Making the everyday easier

The year ahead will also see numerous technological advances, which could help consumers to get more out of life, or prove to be an extra layer of complication. How the benefits of these new products and services are positioned will be essential to their success. One area we expect to see commercialized more is smart home technology, which could help consumers as they go about Redefining Home.  Technology also enables a greater degree of Individualization than ever before, as people seek products that can be tailored to meet their needs.

Getting the most out of… everything

At the same time, disruption will continue in a wide range of categories, fueled not only by technology but also consumers’ never-ending quest for the best deal possible as they go on Revaluing Value. When the going gets tough, consumers’ priority is to maintain the standard of living they’ve enjoyed previously by whatever means, and they’ll look to brands and companies to help them do this as they enjoy themselves wherever possible and get on with Experiencing Life.

How can you use it in your favor?

If nothing else, consumers are set to get even more demanding in the year ahead, with their evolving needs giving rise to a series of challenging and sometimes seemingly contradictory trends. The challenge – and opportunity – for businesses in all sectors is anticipating how these trends are going to impact their industry and therefore, use it as an advantage to win consumers’ ongoing trust and loyalty.

If you want to discuss further about how these trends can affect your specific industry, please feel free to contact me: David.Crosbie@gfk.com

Discover more about the current UK consumer in a post-Brexit environment with our Searching for Solace report.

Download our Searching for Solace report