Gabrielle Lieberman
Gabrielle leads the insights and strategy for the Consumer Trends and Social Media Research teams in the Americas. She loves digging into the data, gaining a deeper understanding of consumer behavior, and using insights to guide brands on making better business decisions.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a profound impact on the global economy and consumer markets. As a result, many of the predictions set forth in Mintel’s 2030 Global Consumer Trends have been accelerated. Here, we examine the big shifts in behavior that have taken place thus far, the changes we expect will persist, and share our predictions for how this will impact the future consumer (catch up on part one of the series here).

Surroundings

Feeling connected to the external environment.

Our predictions

  • ‘Rewilding’ of suburbs and urban environments will come into focus, reshaping how communities connect with the outdoors.
  • Universal work-from-home policies will expand.
  • Better telecommunication technology will allow for more flexible work conditions.
  • Modular, movable, and micro homes will develop to allow for more flexible living.

What’s shifted

As people have been forced to juggle work, play, and relaxation in the same space, many are taking a closer look at just how well the spaces they call “home” serve them and what changes they’d like to make long-term. By 2030, it is expected that nearly 5 billion (61%) of the world’s population will live in cities. With limited space already challenging cities to think creatively about what shared space living looks like, Mintel predicts that as COVID-19 changes how we interact in public spaces, consumers will place even greater pressure on brands to protect them.

Simultaneously, people are more focused on their community, and many are turning outward to assist neighbors and small businesses. Localism will resonate with consumers, many of whom are encouraging one another to buy from neighborhood stores. The unofficial slogan of the crisis, “we’re in this together,” exemplifies the shared experience and common goal. Brands are responding with messages of “we’re here to help” as well as details of how they are supporting employees and customers, which will have an enduring impact on consumer expectations of companies going forward

What’s next

Community-focused: While social distancing measures are keeping people apart, a new sense of community has emerged. Consumers are creatively finding new ways to connect and finding renewed connections during a time when community was starting to feel frayed.

Better living locally: Consumers will demand better local living environments and opportunities to develop skills and ideas. Consumers are taking a closer look at their communities, how well they serve their needs, and the changes needed for the new world ahead.

Flexibility persists: The flexibility forced upon consumers regarding their work and home life, seemingly overnight, will remain. Our urban environments and use of space will undergo a massive rethink, with a sharper eye to how these best serve the needs of tomorrow.

Technology

Finding solutions through technology in the physical and digital worlds.

Our predictions

  • More technology offerings designed specifically for senior care.
  • Reduced business travel thanks to better video conferencing.
  • Urban and vertical-farmed food and local micro-farms will produce the majority of the food people consume.
  • 5G will reach half of all mobile users globally.
  • Cashless biometric payments will be widely used.

What’s shifted

As consumers battle with feelings of loneliness and isolation, technology has become a lifeline for consumers wanting to stay connected to loved ones, work remotely, and access both shopping and entertainment. Mintel predicts that many of the short-term technology behaviors consumers have adopted during the pandemic will persist long after the restrictions are lifted.

The democratization of digital entertainment means consumers now expect that to continue, but content providers will be challenged to re-install rates consumers are willing to accept over time. eCommerce and online transactions have the potential to become, and remain, the norm and gaming used as a reprieve will become essential to everyday lives. Consumers will scrutinize their digital entertainment spending and make reductions but are unlikely to eliminate it entirely. eCommerce and digital transactions will move further into the mainstream.

Meanwhile, the impact on globalization could be huge with more domestic production, less complex supply chains, and higher prices as a result.

What’s next

The new tech normal: Technology has become a lifeline for people throughout the pandemic, especially seniors, and those expectations are now becoming normalized. The shifts in how and what people do online, and the impacts on traffic patterns will remain, causing companies to further innovate to break down barriers.

Innovate ahead of needs: The resistance to digital adoption that has persisted for decades has seemingly evaporated overnight. Consumer expectations and behavior will only be better-informed, more demanding.

Shift from destructive to constructive: The widespread adoption of esports shows the collective strength of the gaming community within the global conversation surrounding essential entertainment. This shift toward a more constructive view of technology and connectivity will have profound effects over the next decade.

Value

Finding tangible, measurable benefits from investments.

Our predictions

  • Consumers will redefine value through the lens of the impact their purchases have on the world.
  • The desire to find what “sparks joy” will continue to dominate the consumer mindset.
  • Consumers will distance themselves from fast-paced lifestyles and excess consumption and move toward slower, minimal consumerism that emphasizes durability, protection, and functionality.
  • Slowness becomes an ideal state.

What’s shifted

Consumers across the world are taking a step back and reevaluating what’s important to them. As people face times of great economic uncertainty, they are closely monitoring their spending and readjusting what value looks like through the lens of the pandemic today. While the lockdown bans are being lifted in some regions globally, it’s critical for brands to be mindful of what newfound habits have been created during this period, and what habits will persist long after the restrictions are lifted. This is especially true among those financially-fragile consumers who may find it easier not to return to their previous ways of more discretionary spending, having learned to adjust to this new lifestyle shift.

Sustainability will also return as a focus, but now with a newfound mindset of how purchases impact their neighbors, city, and nation.

What’s next

‘Essential’ finds new meaning: The message of “sparks joy” is still powerful, but it has moved to focus on joy from an essential lens versus luxury items. Additionally, instant gratification is fading out of necessity as consumers reevaluate expectations for speed.

Vague is out, functional is in: Consumers need facts and guidance now more than ever, emphasizing increased importance on quality.

Consumer and brand purpose: Premium will become not just better quality for a higher price (that has become more of an expectation), but will now become that added value that brands must provide to society.