uk_consumer_trends_2015Looking ahead to 2015, Mintel’s Senior Trend Consultant Richard Cope discusses the four key UK consumer trends identified by Mintel for 2015 - and what this will mean for both consumers and brands in the year ahead.

Get Smart 

The world of synced devices, home appliances and wearable technology will start to mainstream, as trusted retailers and manufacturers move in to the market and convert consumer appetite into action.

“Smart devices – from watches to ceiling fans  – appeal to consumers because they save time and money, promise convenience, control, knowledge and self-analysis. What’s changing is that this is no longer the domain of start-ups offering home hub hardware – the major players are now embracing the trend and raising consumer confidence in it. Apple and Google are introducing ecosystems to compete for leadership in the wearables and connected home market and retailers are also pushing synced devices. It’s important to consider that smart devices needn’t be about health or home economics – they can be about aesthetics and ambience as well.” 

“Mintel’s research highlights that consumers are already thinking about how their devices sync as part of their research and purchasing process. Some 41% of UK smartphone and/or tablet owners claim they are more likely to buy a laptop or desktop computer that uses the same operating system as their tablet and/or smartphone and the same number (40%) agree that it is important that their smartphone and tablet use the same operating system. Today’s tech savvy consumers are are also showing an interest in investing more in smart home appliances, indeed, in the UK, as many as 76% of potential TV buyers say they are interested in a TV with the ability to wirelessly stream content from other devices and a further 28% say they would pay more for this feature. Meanwhile, over a third (34%) of UK fridge shoppers expect or would pay more for a bar code reader synced to online shopping. “

“While wearables have already been adopted by consumers to a degree, the potential is far greater. One in five (21%) UK adults already use either a wearable device or a health-related mobile app. Meanwhile, a third (31%) are interested in using a smart watch with fitness functionality, with 40% interested in a device that tracks heart rate, blood pressure and movement and 34% a device that tracks steps and sleep. While smart clothing that monitors health and performance has previously been the domain of niche brands and startups – the launch of Ralph Lauren’s Polo Tech Shirt will launch this concept into the mainstream. For the ‘smart home’ to flourish, security concerns need to be addressed. In the near future, we expect home internet providers to offer synced leisure and home appliance systems. Furthermore, smart home systems will go beyond economising and utilities to embrace ambience and decor. Staying on this theme of aesthetics, we’re going to see more attractive, appealing, fashionable takes on wearables. These devices are as much about signalling status as number-crunching and the ante needs to be upped in this department if consumers truly want to be seen with them.” 

“Improvements in connectivity and security are likely to bring us more companies like Atom – the UK’s first digital-only bank, which is set to launch in 2015. We also expect to see an increase in innovations that help to charge mobile devices on the go, wearables that analyse our mental – as well as physical – health, smart food and drink containers that automatically re-order replacements and companies that analyse our data in order to customise services and costs. Data analysis will become a key area of expansion for companies and humans will increasingly share data with professionals for analysis.”

E@sy Street

The on-demand, instant gratification culture of the digital world is spreading to the high street. 

“We inhabit a digital era of instant gratification, where we can browse and buy at speed and where – online at least – the shops never close. Consumers are clamouring for the same levels of convenience in the high street and the good news is that we’re about to see a flurry of fast and flexible solutions to bridge the gap between online and physical shopping.” 

“Better connectivity is allowing us to browse and buy whilst on board planes and buses, nurturing our need to buy on impulse. Rather than wait for delivery, a series of initiatives will allow us to access – or try out – our purchases within the hour or on our way home. Click-and-collect services are about to become far more sophisticated and prevalent with the roll out of Amazon’s collection lockers and Doddle’s parcel collection points. Click-and-collect services are also being extended to remove the major obstacles facing online retailing – namely not being at home to receive non-food items and in fashion, not being able to try things on. We can expect leading clothing brands to embrace this opportunity with pop up pods to allow consumers to try on or return goods. Mintel estimates that click-and-collect orders will make up 15% of all internet retail sales of physical products by value in 2014. And that the collection rate is much higher in non-grocery orders (eg clothing, electricals, furnishings) than in groceries. In 2014, online retail sales are expected to contribute around 11.6% of all retail sales, this means, in turn, that click-and-collect orders will make up just 1.7% of all retail sales in 2014. In 2015, Mintel expects around 17% of all internet retail sales (or 2.2% of all retail sales) to be collected by customers.”

Over a third (35%) of UK consumers have used click-and-collect services in the past year and 64% say that they shop online more now because more retailers offer click-and-collect services. Furthermore, over half (58%) say that click-and-collect encourages them to visit stores more frequently, while 64% say they are shopping online more because of click-and-collect. In addition, it seemsnew click-and-collect fashion hubs are likely to drive up online sales. Today, 80% of consumers agree that when shopping online it is difficult to tell if clothes will fit – with consumers aged under-35 (the main clothes shoppers) seeing this as the main issue. Half (50%) of consumers (rising to 57% of women) say the hassle of returning goods through the post is one of the main barriers to buying clothes online.”

“Retail initiatives are going some way to satisfying consumers’ convenience demands, but we can expect further solutions to develop. In retail generally we can expect to see beauty pop-ups following the fashion line – helped by use of devices like personalisation apps or on-site intelligent beauty mirrors – as well as pop-up sales parties and promotions. The fashion pods might be boosted by the installation of onsite 3D body scanning technology for better size profiling. We may also see a rise in 3D print shops seeking to tap into the creative side of the click-and-collect mentality and there’s a major opportunity here for retailers to offer seasonal pop up stores in key spending periods of Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.” 

“In the high street in foodservice we’ve seen a growth in gourmet vending and app ordering options. Traditional formats like vending machines can be revived and reimagined in retail as well to cater to modern forms of convenience, shorn of associations with unhealthy products like carbonated drinks and cigarettes.  More accessible retail and collection services will trigger an increased craving for instant access to the human element  in service as well, with consumers expecting and demanding expertise advice on tap  – whether it be through services offering financial, fashion, or medical advice – delivered on site at transport hub pop ups or via video chat 24/7.” Richard concludes.

Fight for Your Rights 

Growing awareness of customer rights and corporate misbehaviour will see consumers demand more fairness and justice from companies and companies consult consumers more

“It’s fitting that on the 800th anniversary of the first ever citizen’s bill of rights – the Magna Carta (Latin for Great Charter) was sealed under oath by King John at Runnymede, England on June 15th 1215 – consumer rights are back in the spotlight. Following on from a year of political protest, the decline of deference is set to escalate in the consumer space as customers are variously empowered and presented with provocative facts on corporate practice.” 

“We are seeing examples of empowerment in the form of the UK’s new Consumer Rights Bill which will enforce pre-contractual information, a default maximum delivery time of 30 days, and consumers’ right to reject goods. The real story here is growing media coverage of bad corporate practice, arming activists with bad news with which to mobilise support.  Elsewhere we’ll see women’s rights grow as an issue in the corporate and consumer spaces, with Germany’s government implementing a quota plan demanding that supervisory boards of public companies be at least 30% female by 2016. Lack of trust cannot be ignored by governments and businesses, Mintel’s research reveals that under half (46%) of UK consumers trust their bank to give them a fair deal.”

“When it comes to clothing UK consumers prioritise their own rights, indeed, 79% of shoppers say a company’s returns policy influences their shopping. Company policies have a significant influence upon today’s consumers, ethical treatment of workers ( 44%) and environmental policies (33%) both influence UK consumers shopping choices.  While in the US, some 82% of diners believe a restaurant that treats its employees fairly influences their restaurant choice. Corporate malpractice and consumer disillusionment can drive localism. Over a third (31%) of US small business owners say that large businesses motivate them to be a better small business owner.  And it seems younger, more progressive generations are attuned to ‘political purchasing’ – 18% of US 19-36 year old consumers go out of their way to buy from companies or brands that support LGBT Issues.”  

“For those consumers who are willing to stand up and fight (or sit down and click), Mintel’s consumer trend ‘Buydeology’ has become a way to express one’s opinion on a brand, company, or issue. We expect to see a continuation of protests against perceived corporate transgressors, from loan shark and pay day loan companies to tax-dodgers, to animal-rights abusers and non-progressive companies that pay low wages, exclude or take a stance against same sex couples and LGBT consumers. A growth in boycotts may well translate in to a wider adoption of local and independent businesses and producers instead (if they take the opportunity to push their community credentials).”

“We’ll also see more consumer-facing businesses follow the example of Sumitomo Bank in Japan and make a show of offering more senior ranking positions to women. Consumers will demand clarity on things like ingredients in food, beverage and beauty and either demand certification or arm themselves with apps to find out. Companies will increasingly be forced to apologise, admit their mistakes and show a contrite, human face and consult their customers on their products, promotional campaigns and policies. People feel that they have the power to help get things done because digital platforms give consumers a voice.”

Toxic Avengers

International events – some catastrophic, some inspirational – are putting emissions and toxicity back on the agenda, but it’s the threat of pollution to human, rather than environmental, health that’s driving technological innovation and a spate of clean, protective product launches in the CPG space.

“In 2015, pollution will become a key media focus with raised levels of consumer consciousness in these issues in the UK. A growing awareness of the link between urban pollution and cancer and premature deaths – following the World Health Organisation’s revelation that pollution is the world’s biggest environmental health risk – will provoke a reaction. Consumers are learning about the problems of PM 2.5 – that’s ‘fine particulate matter’ – an air contaminant associated with asthma, heart attacks and other health problems and solutions in the form of apps and devices. The cosmetics industry in particular has been awakening consumers to the immediate, visible, personal effects of pollution.”

The case for going clean has clear global resonance. A strong minority of consumers already consider the cleanly green credentials of what they buy. Indeed, over three-quarters (76%) of UK adults pay attention to the ethical and green credentials of products, including manufacturing and distribution processes, as well as the reputation of companies or brands. Some 41% of US consumers claim they are influenced by the environmental impact of the products they buy and 64% of US consumers claim they expect companies to be more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, 91% of Brazilian consumers believe that “green actions from companies can really have an effect on the world’s environment”. Furthermore, consumers realise that how they live – if not yet environment – affects their skin, with 83% of UK adults feeling lifestyle has a big impact on skin and 22% of women looking to cleansers to protect their skin from the environment or pollution. Older consumers are a particular target: some 28% of UK women who use facial skincare products use a moisturiser to counter the effects of pollution or the environment on the skin, but the figure rises to 42% of women aged 65 and over.”

“Consumers are already embracing apps that scrutinise a product’s environmental credentials, and we expect this concept to grow in the food and beverages market. Meanwhile, we can expect protective claims against PM2.5 to grow in product marketing in skincare and across other sectors. Expect consumers to care more about apps that measure food miles and cleaning products made from ‘all natural’ ingredients like lemon, vinegar, baking soda, as well as buying in to foods and beauty products that make ‘protection from pollution’ an actual product claim. We’ll see more technological solutions in the form of self-cleaning surfaces, using permanent treatments to enable flooring, worktops and windows to repel dirt and grime. We’ll also see more wearable devices – and clothes – that variously measure, guard against and combat dangerous levels of air pollution and in advertising we’ll see more initiatives like billboards that fight pollution and home, office and even shop frontages made from materials that absorb carbon, reflect heat or absorb light to emit it at night time. In the home, retail and office space we’ll also continue to see a major uptake of LED lighting systems.”

Interviews with Senior Trends Consultant, Richard Cope, are available on request from the press office.

The full copy of Mintel’s Four Key UK Consumer Trends for 2015 is available to download free of charge here. Feel free to add this link to your article.

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