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Mintel has today (10 December 2018 ) announced six key consumer trends impacting industries and markets in China and North Asia, identifying how they will play out in the years to come. In 2019 and beyond, the region’s consumer landscape will evolve like never before, driven by themes of privacy, individuality, wellness, convenience and connectivity:

  • Total Wellbeing: Consumers are treating their bodies like an ecosystem and seeking solutions that complement their personal health and evolving needs.
  • Challenge Accepted: A growing momentum to take on new challenges is driving consumers to reach new heights and uncover new passions.
  • Redefining Adulthood: The concept of what it means to be an adult hhey have a digital persona to nurture and grow, creating tension as everyone fights for attention and nobody is safe from scrutiny.
  • Social Isolation: Constant digital connectivity, where physical interactions are replaced with digital updates, can increase feelings of loneliness, social isolation and depression, creating a demand for products and services that help consumers learn to disconnect.
  • Rethink Plastic: While not inherently bad, the throwaway use of plastic is driving consumers to review their own behaviours to prevent plastic pollution.

Here, Joyce Lam, Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific, at Mintel, explores how the trends are set to shake up markets across China and North Asia, including implications for both consumers and brands.

TOTAL WELLBEING

“The stressful work and living conditions in Asia will encourage consumers to embrace lifestyles and products that support more balanced healthy solutions. In the years ahead, expect to see new innovations equipped with body-tracking technology, supported by scientific proof, that will offer consumers tailored solutions based on their individual needs.”

“Consumers in Asia are constantly on the lookout for new products and services that can support them in better managing their health, with optimal convenience. The use of digital devices and apps, for instance, can offer health-focused consumers a way to personalise their food, fitness and overall wellness regime. In fact, more than one in ten (13%) Japanese consumers say they use wearable devices to track their health. Customisation is key for new categories entering this space.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

“Broader goals, global knowledge and the sharing of information in this digital age indicate that consumers are looking for new ways to satisfy their curiosity and indulge in novel, more extreme activities by stepping out of their comfort zones.”

Consumers are after new experiences in life instead of just spending on material things. In addition, the rise in single households in Asia is creating new potential for solo activities where consumers get the opportunity to explore and gain experiences alone. According to Mintel research, a quarter (25%) of Chinese travellers have gone on domestic holidays alone. In 2019 and beyond, brands will be challenged to become more experiential, engaging and fun.”

REDEFINING ADULTHOOD

“Turbulent social and economic conditions like rising house prices and a competitive job market are making it difficult for young Asians to fulfil the life-goal expectations of previous generations. Instead, new-found values are directing more and more young Asians to choose careers they are passionate about, or take on alternative life challenges.

“Indeed, Mintel research finds that two in five (38%) Chinese consumers would rather enjoy the moment than become mortgage slaves. As population become more diverse, with consumers altering their life stages along with their needs and habits, expect to see brands become more attune to these significant shifts by eschewing the usual stereotypes in their campaigns.”

ON DISPLAY

“Asian consumers are increasingly focused on creating online personas for themselves; this online identity shapes what people want others to think, feel and believe about them. The easy accessibility of the internet is also encouraging a culture of taking complaints online, creating an environment where nobody is safe from scrutiny and backlash.”

“A third (32%) of Chinese consumers value luxury brands’ responses to consumer comments, criticism and questions on social media, according to Mintel research. With consumers stepping up to voice their opinions, brands need to regard these comments as potential feedback that can help improve the brand-consumer relationship. These commentaries left behind by consumers will also provide solutions to specific consumer demands.”

SOCIAL ISOLATION

The use of digital technology, for some, has contributed to feelings of isolation, depression and other mental health issues. Feelings of loneliness can be found across demographics in Asia. Kids and teens, for example, are digital natives and their social environment is largely found online, leading to less in-depth physical relationships with the people around them. Indeed, more than a quarter (27%) of university students in China say a lack of social skills is giving them a lot of stress.”

“Looking ahead, fighting the severity of isolation among consumers is an ethical goal brands can take up. In a typical setting, consumers tend to reach out to apps and online platforms to meet like-minded individuals. However, when this fails, artificial intelligence is an option that brands can look into to help assuage feelings of loneliness.”

RETHINK PLASTIC

“Fast-moving urban lifestyles have created huge demand for convenience and affordability, sometimes at the risk of harming the environment. However, consumers are coming to the realisation that they can no longer ignore the negative effects of plastic pollution. For instance, two in five (40%) Chinese breakfast consumers would like to see more environmentally friendly packaging for their breakfast.”

“By promoting plastic-conscious consumption, brands can work together with consumers to adopt and inculcate better habits in their daily lives, working towards a healthier and more sustainable environment. Brands that don’t make the effort to move away from unnecessary plastic use could see themselves shunned by increasingly ‘plastic-aware’ consumers.”

Media interviews with Joyce Lam, Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific, at Mintel, are available on request from the Mintel Press Office.

Learn more about Mintel’s China & North Asia Consumer Trends in a new thought piece available here for free download.