Mintel has thought leaders watching nearly every consumer sector. Their expertise converges quarterly to identify key themes currently impacting US markets. This quarter, the conversation touched upon some relevant themes that are explored in Mintel’s North America Consumer Trends 2017. Here,  Carli Gernot, Manager of Trends North America, shares how these trends are already playing out…

The Echo Chamber of Secrets

The personalization of everything, from products to information, has taken the polarization of attitudes and knowledge to new heights. Whether or not they are aware of it, many consumers find themselves in a perpetual cycle of being exposed only to ideas, beliefs, opinions and services with which they already identify. The trend recommends calculated disruption and innovation to better connect with audiences. Ideas to permeate people’s “bubbles” include:

  • Algorithms offer solutions to receiving recommendations for new items, but there’s also an opportunity for trustworthy social media influencers on YouTube, Snapchat or Instagram to make suggestions that might be safe, yet exciting departures from consumers’ comfort zones.
  • TV broadcasters are using split-screen functions to offer sports fans uninterrupted views of the competitions, while the other half of the screen airs an advertisement. The format could be used on TV and mobile devices to intercept consumers as they’re watching content to offer related products or opposing viewpoints.

Reality 2.0

Consumers are looking for ways to not only engage in new and unique experiences, but to take it a step further and immerse themselves in worlds that are different from – or are enhancements of – their own. Innovation in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and live streaming make it possible for consumers to access enhanced reality and experiences that are out of their reach:

  • Adding to the in-store VR feature known as Holoroom, Lowes has introduced a 360-degree video application on its Facebook page that lets users walk through different processes necessary for installing products they’ve purchased at the store. This functionality brings enhanced access to the expertise Lowe’s brings to the DIY space.
  • Uniqlo has introduced an augmented reality mirror that can change the color of an item a shopper is trying on. Even a feature as simple as this can streamline the shopping experience and enhance consumer satisfaction and enjoyment in-store.
  • Alibaba, the Chinese online marketplace company, has launched VR payment technology that lets users browse virtual reality shopping malls and pay for purchases without removing the VR headset. A payment can be confirmed by a simple nod of the head, demonstrating how VR worlds can incorporate practical functionality to bring the consumer closer to a brand.

Mintel’s 2017 North America Consumer Trends are available to download here.

Carli Gernot is the Manager of Trends North America at Mintel. She’s been contributing to the success of Mintel Trends since 2010, spotting trends and shifts in consumer behavior all over the world. Carli is responsible for creating content for global trends, North American and EMEA regions, as well as ensuring that North American consumer trend content is relevant and insightful.