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, in the second part of this series, Manager of Trends North America Carli Gernot shares how these trends are already playing out…

Be the Change

Frustration with bureaucracy and long-term processes is reaching new heights in 2016 and many consumers expect solutions faster than bureaucracy can deliver. Evolving expectations of quick-fixes, spurred on by our hyper-connected, on-demand culture push companies to develop not only products and services that consumers need, but to do more to be the change in ways that improve “the system” for the better. There are opportunities for brands to step up, communicate their views and make changes that enforce their ethos, including:

  • Rent the Runway displays a multitude of model images, diverse in body type and skin tone, so that shoppers can choose can choose a model that more closely resembles themselves in their search for clothing and accessories that will suit them. Further pushing the idea of what “diverse” means will change the way shoppers are able to see themselves in brands’ offerings, for the better.
  • Social media and digital service providers can ensure that people’s perspectives can be represented, both by developing channels that facilitate collaborative communication and by protecting users against harassment and abuse. SnapChat stories give users a democratic look at the way everyone else sees the world. In the digital space, it will be increasingly important for individuals to feel as though they are not only able to express themselves, but feel confident that they are being heard.

Life in Sync

This trend predicts that as consumers become more harried and their lives more hectic, connected products and systems will add artificial intelligence (AI) to remove time-consuming steps from consumers’ day-to-day lives. Several recent strides have been made, which further the demand for high-level synchronization and pave the way for an AI-synced world:

  • Facebook’s new peer-to-peer shopping feature, Marketplace, integrates with Facebook Messenger, which makes the buying, selling and recommending experience more seamless and accessible.
  • Instagram is the latest social media app to test in-ad purchasing features, allowing brands to tag their products in photos. In an experiment with partner retailer J. Crew, users can easily make the transition from being interested in an item to owning it.
  • Marketers of the future could potentially take advantage of cookies that follow consumers’ varied online habits so that ads will not appear for products they’ve already purchased, but instead might be able to recommend complementary products. The purchase-decision process would be far more streamlined if, for example, you were shopping for a mattress on your smartphone, but bought it on your laptop, the ads on your mobile phone could adapt to offer new sheets or pillows.

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.