Five Key Trends for 2014

Global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence, Mintel, has identified five key trends that are set to impact consumers across the Asia Pacific region in 2014. 

Whilst not focussing directly on media, these trends are excellent thought starters when it comes to developing future opportunities that may arise with advertisers and advertiser categories.

We’re all aware that some traditional product categories (and so advertising clients) are drifting away from radio, but we also know that there are new products and possibilities coming fast.

Emerging new technology will provide many opportunities, but at the same time expected concerns about how much technology is impacting on our lives will likely provide opportunities in the lifestyle, recreation and travel experience categories.

It is essential to be looking at how our media models can be integrated into these new trends with a view to creating future revenue opportunities. It’s easy to be left behind if you don’t know where the world is going.

 Here is a summary of Mintel’s five key trends for 2014.

Whether to share joy, like the global celebration of the UK’s royal baby, or to remember, in the case of the passing of esteemed leaders like former South African President Nelson Mandela, the global community has become close-knit. Connections are heightened by the immediacy provided by technology; each day, people are using social media and other innovations to eliminate the barriers and the boundaries formerly presented by geography.

The origin of products, particularly food, is increasingly important to shoppers in the Asia Pacific. More exotic and “foreign” alcoholic drinks and foodstuffs are increasingly demanded and available. People are seeing themselves as citizens of the world, who are easily connected with their counterparts from other countries through the Internet and social media.

Whether it’s through sports game viewing, online purchases, or online activism, the coming year will see a continued increase of global connections through both experiences and technology.

Life, Streamlined
The demand for instant gratification will continue to drive consumers in 2014. Consumers want faster solutions to their problems, resulting in technology that answers those problems – only to lead to a demand for even faster solutions. In the coming year, more accessible — and even wearable — technology will provide people with solutions to problems they weren’t even aware they had.

This trend capitalizes on smartphone ownership, which is nearly universal (90%) among Chinese Internet users aged 20-49 surveyed by Mintel. The devices will become more convenient as industry sources predict that 2014 could see the widespread availability of mobile payments in China. Retailers also are appealing to shoppers with concepts like mobile in-store checkouts, sizing technology, smart appliances and mobile wallets. These solutions meld high-tech customized service with impersonal convenience.

Ultimately, advancements will cut down on the need for people to find products, information and services; instead, the roles are being reversed and the products, information and services find people – allowing them to quickly move on with their more efficient and improved lives. Indeed, innovations in delivery are advancing with discussion around the potential of delivery via drones, heralding an era where next-day delivery becomes a concept of yesteryear. Innovations such as wearable fitness trackers, smart watches, and Google Glass even remove the need for touch to interact.

Drawing the Digital Line
In reaction to concerns resulting from hyper-connectivity, in 2014 consumers will become exceedingly aware of the need to unplug, to simplify, and to reconnect with the world around them. As the world sees increased discussion around the value and usability of wearable and ubiquitous technology, it will lead to a demand for more of a balance between living online and “real world” experiences.

This comes at a time when many recent technologies are nearing a point of complete societal saturation. Mobile phones are owned by at or near 90% of adults in the US and China, according to Mintel research. Overall, the Internet has just reached an age where the youngest adult consumers do not know what life is like without it; these true digital natives are constantly connected without putting thought to it. With this pervasive connectedness, nearly seven in 10 (69%) of US consumers claim they need to set time aside to disconnect from being online. Just more than half (51%) of Brazilian adults aged 16+ agree that technology, such as mobile phones and the Internet, make their lives busier.

Consumers have been developing the need to log off for some time, but 2014 will be the tipping point for action as technology becomes increasingly inescapable through wearable devices. While people will not abandon digitalization altogether, they will develop a need to know when to unplug, which could lead to reconnecting with tangible and personal surroundings. Functional products that help consumers relax.
Connection with the literal local is inherent in this trend, encouraging consumers to stop multi-tasking in 2014 and enjoy the world around them, elevating the importance of the “here and now.”

Investing in Prevention
Consumers are focused on anticipating and preparing for both the major and the minor events that could interrupt their status quo. Most people have not forgotten the 2008 global financial crisis and some markets have encountered more recent struggles, causing them to be more mindful of the state of their finances.

Beyond money, food safety and health are major concerns among Chinese adults surveyed by Mintel. Thus, consumers are also are paying more attention to product packaging. This can include country of origin, ingredient statements, calorie content, and nutritional effects.

Redefining Value
Lowest price no longer equates with the best value as consumers are paying more attention to how their purchases align with their personal beliefs. People are re-evaluating their brand allegiances, reconnecting with products by supporting artisan manufacturers, shopping at independently owned retailers, or opting to do-it-themselves.

Mintel sees this trend expanding through the region. In retail, private label brands in Japan and Australia are taking advantage of this expanded definition of value with revamped lines that attract careful shoppers who do not want to compromise to save money. Not to be left out, brands are creating smaller packaging in markets like India instead of instituting price increases.

As they carefully read labels, scan QR codes, or check online reviews before buying, shoppers are sleuthing before charging. Product recalls, questionable claims, and shady business practices have heightened the skepticism in consumers. This elevates the need for brands to be authentic and transparent in their business practices in 2014.

In 2014, companies must the careful to monitor all aspects of their image and interaction with people – ensuring that they’re aligning with corporate responsibility goals as well as the key priorities of its current and prospective consumers.

Mintel is a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence.
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