Artisanal, automation among future consumer trends

CHICAGO — An appreciation for human-crafted goods and growth in automated payment solutions are among the trends Mintel predicts will be impacting consumer behavior in the next five to 10 years.

As part of its lunch of Mintel Futures, a new program designed to forecast long-term industry trends, research firm Mintel as identified six key trends affecting the global consumer market in the near future.

Richard Cope, director of insight and trends at Mintel, said, "Mintel Futures examines cross category, cross-sector consumer trends, enabling organizations to stay one step ahead. We have devised the Mintel Futures initiative to be a wake-up call for clients - something to stimulate team discussion, suggest new projects and strategic approaches and pose questions for their business. It works because its longer term outlook avoids the limitations of a year ahead approach and is more actionable for our clients who are in the planning stages of activity set to impact in the same timeframes we are looking toward."

Two key trends highlighted by Mintel as part of the Mintel Futures initiative are Human and Generation Next.

Human - Automation and mass production will continue to make life easier, but consumers and companies will react by valuing – and promoting - human service and artisan goods.

Today's consumers are chiefly experiencing automatic service in the form of storefront retail technologies, such as self-checkout terminals and mobile self-scanners, and many are warming to the concept. 

"Moving forward, automation is going to be about cutting to the chase, skipping past laborious processes, to get us to the experience or the product more quickly." Richard Cope added. "For companies this means offering a choice between human expertise and automated fast-tracking in service, and adding customer customization and artisan suppliers to the product supply line. Man and machine are not at war, and the challenge is to use automation as something that gives us more time to focus on being more human."

Generation Next - A poor economy is challenging teenagers' ability to rebel, to progress and to stay healthy, but they are also better connected than their parents and growing up  in an era where sustainability and gender equality are higher on the agenda. This means teens need – and expect – more from companies.

Today's teens are more health conscious, with smoking, drug and alcohol consumption in decline, but they can also be surprisingly ill-informed. Furthermore, the priorities of this generation have shifted from the more reckless attitudes of generations past. 

"Young people are defined by a dichotomy in that they have turned away from the reckless spending and vices of their elders, but developed their own health problems - sedentary lifestyles, obesity and depression – that are crying out for corporate help. To capitalize on the potential of this next generation of key consumers, companies must acknowledge that teens are growing up in the midst of debates surrounding sustainability, ethical sourcing and gender equality and may need to be more transparent, more ethical and more progressive to win their favor and custom," said Cope

Additional trends highlighted by the Mintel Futures initiative include:

  • Old Gold - Whether retired, working or in need of care, the elderly are the key consumer demographic.

  • East Meets West - Asia can become the key cultural, as well as commercial, influence.

  • Access Anything Anywhere - Our smartphones and tablets won't just change the way we communicate, they will change the way we live.

  • Brand Intervention - The state will force corporations to become more responsible for consumers.