Understanding the latest trends is paramount for businesses aiming to thrive in an increasingly competitive market. Euromonitor International, a global market research company, recently unveiled its report on the top global consumer trends, which delves deep into the dynamics shaping consumers’ values and shopping motivations, shedding light on the profound influence of artificial intelligence (AI), sustainability initiatives, and socio-economic factors. From AI’s role as a co-
a co-creator in decision-making to the desire for delightful distractions that offer respite from daily stresses, the report paints a vivid picture of what consumers are seeking in today’s marketplace. Sustainability, polarised political and social issues, value-driven shopping, and the pursuit of wellness are also integral elements of these emerging trends. To gain deeper insights into these trends and their implications for businesses, we spoke with Herbert Yum, research manager at Euromonitor International, who serves as the spokesperson for the Asia-Pacific region, as well as Alison Angus, head of innovation at Euromonitor International. The story so far According to Yum, the adoption of AI technology, especially generative AI, is growing rapidly for consumers to easily create content, from text to videos, with little technical know-how needed. There is solid evidence seeing consumers are feeling more comfortable incorporating AI technology into their daily activities. “According to our survey, 72 per cent of consumers used technology to improve their daily lives in 2023 where 42 per cent were comfortable with voice assistants providing personalised information and suggested products,” he told Inside Retail. It is expected that AI will continue to act as a useful tool to help consumers make informative and timely decisions on their daily purchases. However, the accessibility and the experience of AI-powered tools are highly dependent on the speed and level of adoption of corporations across the globe. “According to our survey, around 66 per cent of respondents believe AI would have an impact on handling customer service requests, around 75 per cent of respondents believe AI will have impact on voice-powered applications, and around 68 per cent of them believe AI will have impact on fulfilment and logistics,” he added. Therefore, Yum can foresee that consumer behaviour is not the only factor that would be influenced by the AI technology, but also the way businesses operate, as well as the value chain of the industry that drive the improvement of customer experience in the future. Delightful distractions Ever since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, stress has been a long standing issue with consumers across the globe. Yum said that companies are finding ways to bring positive vibes to their target audiences to build stronger bonds. “Our survey found that 67 per cent of professionals across industries state that consumer experience will have a very significant impact on their categories in the next five years,” he noted. Therefore, it is more important for businesses to understand how they can leverage creative marketing campaigns, possibly with the help of AR, VR and AI, to connect with clients through playful and joyful experiences. Interestingly, when it comes to the topic of sustainability, Yum noted that the recent ‘greenwashed out’ trend points to a scenario where consumers are seeking more tangible impacts from companies in this area. “Our survey found that reducing food waste, reducing plastic use and recycled items are the three most wanted actions for 2023. So, companies need to take a step back and focus on these actions and showcase the results to gain customers’ trust,” he stressed. A nuanced marketplace In the same vein, the firm’s survey showed that 30 per cent of consumers would buy from brands that support social and political issues aligned with their values, while 25 per cent would boycott those that do not share their social or political beliefs. Yum said this is a double-edged sword to companies across the globe, especially for those that have exposures over multiple regions. “While leveraging social listening platforms or consumer surveys is an effective way to track consumer sentiment around controversial issues, it is also equally important for businesses to regularly evaluate their brand identity and perception before taking a stance, if necessary, that could alienate their targeted customers,” he opined. When it comes to price, Euromonitor’s research suggests that consumers intend to “outsmart the system” by adopting a proactive and creative approach to get the best deal they can with the same amount of budget. The adoption of emerging technologies such as generative AI and loyalty programs could turn out to be an effective way for businesses to cope with this trend as it can offer both transactional and emotional value added to consumers through everyday purchases. The way forward According to Angus, head of innovation at Euromonitor International, balancing innovation with maintaining a brand’s core values, especially when addressing sensitive subjects related to consumer preferences, is a complex but crucial task. “Some recommendations include, clearly defining and understanding the core values of your brand. This includes not only what your brand stands for but also the expectations and perceptions of your target audience,” she told Inside Retail. Angus also said that fostering collaboration between innovation teams and other departments, such as marketing, legal, and public relations can ensure efforts are aligned with business goals and brand values. “Gather customer feedback to understand consumer sensitivities and concerns and help align innovations with customer preferences and ethical considerations. Be transparent about your innovation process and any potential risks associated with sensitive subjects,” she added. She went on to say that companies should test innovative ideas on a smaller scale before full implementation to identify any potential issues, and make adjustments to align with brand values and consumer preferences. “Develop a plan for handling any backlash or negative reactions related to innovative initiatives. Having a plan in place allows for a quicker and more effective response,” she noted. Ultimately, she believes companies need to be prepared to adapt and iterate based on feedback and changing market dynamics. The ability to pivot quickly in response to new information or shifting consumer preferences is essential for maintaining brand relevance.