As we approach the 2020s, uncertainty has become the new norm. But imagine that you could catch a glimpse of the future consumer landscape. What would you see? How would everyone react? What would you do differently? Recent research has highlighted three future trends that can help to answer these questions and allow us to understand how organisations are rebooting their consumer propositions to prepare for this uncertainty.
The first of these trends is Youthful Nativism, which involves members of Generation Z re-evaluating their cultural heritage and pushing for new positive definitions of national identity. With the American Dream fading, citizens in emerging markets such as China and Africa are re-examining their cultural heritage and driving positive definitions of national identity. In fashion, a host of new labels are emerging that no longer want to pander to Western tastes. At Fashion East in London, both Asai and Supriya Lele exhibited clothes that had fresh takes on Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian heritage. At VFiles in New York, Christian Stone showcased a collection inspired by the obsolete electronics he grew up around in Hong Kong.
To add to this, fashion label Yat Pit features traditional loose and flowing silhouettes with Chinese fastenings under the tagline ‘reviving lost Chinese culture’. “We want to promote Chinese clothing to this generation and not have our outfit choices dominated only by Western aesthetics of just t-shirts and jeans,” says designer and co-founder On-Ying Lai.
The second trend is Tribal Mentality, which is a mind-set that stands for sharing, learning and pooling resources together, and will be driven by consumers’ need to reassess their purpose and attain a sense of fulfilment. This is evident in the rise of non-binary collectives including UNITI, Gal-dem and BBZ; all of which offer their unique take on the world to a wider audience, ultimately making it more ‘acceptable’. However, this is not just a youth movement; Older Woman’s Cohousing is a group of women who have created their own community to tackle loneliness in old age. They come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, with ages ranging from the mid-fifties to around eighty. In the coming years, this shift from individual empowerment to collective strength will be ever more present.
The third and final trend is Institutionless Consumer, which highlights a new kind of consumer who seeks to disconnect entirely from existing financial, media, lifestyle and government institutions, and trade directly with their peers. We are beginning to see this trend take form with Bitcoin tripling in value from £680 to more than £2,030 between January 2017 and June 2017. With this being a peer-to-peer system and transactions taking place between users directly, it is making an intermediary obsolete.
To add to this, Blockchain-powered platforms such as MiVote are aiming to create a fairer – and institutionless – form of democracy for citizens. The app tells users what is being debated in the Australian parliament, provides them with relevant information on the issues and enables them to vote. In aggregate, these votes would dictate what legislation representatives of the MiVote Party, if elected, would support.
In the next decade we are going to see accelerating change in the way consumers behave, which is likely to create an even more challenging environment for those that are slow to evolve. However, for those that are willing to accept this positive revolution and embrace a landscape of consumers who are abandoning traditional institutions, seeking comfort in safe spaces and reasserting their sense of national pride, will be part of a transformed future.