First published at FashionUnited.
Market Research Firm Euromonitor has published a report outlining the top 10 consumers trends to be expected in 2019 around the world. FashionUnited summarizes them below.
Everybody’s an expert
Consumers are becoming wiser and wiser. While back in the day they could only rely on a limited number of sources to get shopping inspiration and information about products they were interested in buying, now there’s a plethora of sources to educate oneself. Perhaps even too many. Reviews, forums, tutorials, social media… As a result, the power dynamics between retailers and consumers is changing, requiring companies to “constantly innovate, drive prices down and streamline and aestheticize their offerings” to stay relevant and entice shoppers, in the words of Euromonitor. The sayings “the customer is always right” and “there’s no better advertising than word of mouth” have never been truer, as people are turning more and more to their peers to make purchasing decisions.
When information about anything is just a few clicks away, consumers cannot help but feel like they don’t have to consult a professional to make decisions regarding their wardrobes, diets, fitness regimes, interior design and so on. In short, they’re cutting out the middle person. In this process of looking after oneself, many people feel that mass market offerings are not the best solution for them, turning therefore to apps and personalization services to create a unique product that suits their preferences. This way, they don’t have to constantly engage with brand marketing — something they’re actually getting tired of, as shown by the popularity of ad blocking services.
Stitch Fix is an example of a fashion company following this trend. It sends clients a box of clothing and accessories especially selected for them by a combination of human stylists and algorithms. FashionUnited recently spoke with Stitch Fix’s Chief Algorithm Officer to learn more about its business model. Read the interview in full here.
Canadian suits label Indochino, which sells made-to-measure suits online, is another good example. Shoppers must take their own measurements before ordering and they can choose from a range of lapel, vent, pocket, lining and button color options. “Each of the 500,000 garments we’ll ship this year are unique”, Indochino’s CEO Drew Green told FashionUnited. The full interview is here.
Young consumers are often accused of being impatient and having short attention spans. However, according to Euromonitor’s report, there’s more to the “I want it now” attitude than just the seek of instant gratification. In this day and age, everybody’s busy and time is a luxury. That’s why so many consumers are looking for “frictionless experiences that mesh with their lifestyles, allowing them to dedicate more time to their professional or social lives”.
As a result, speed has become a crucial factor for a retailer’s success. A recent study pointed out online fashion shops which constantly add more products to their offering perform better than those which are perceived to be more stylish in comparison. Speed of delivery is equally important: a poll of over 1,500 US consumers published last month by eMarketer revealed a 59 percent increase in shoppers expecting retailers to offer same or next-day delivery, compared to 2017. Brick and mortar retailers are expected to be efficient too, which explains why Amazon has launched Amazon Go, its network of cashier-less physical stores.
Another example of fashion brands catering for consumers’ increasing need for speed are the “see now, buy now” runway shows: consumers no longer need to wait months to get a hold of an item they saw during fashion week.
Last but not least, look at all the fashion startups whose core business is to offer trending apparel and accessories as soon as they rise on social media: Fashion Nova, Choosy and Polette are just three examples of promising young companies offering an impressive amount of new styles each week.
Back to basics for status
With so many options to choose from, many consumers are going through a materialism hangover. They want to “simplify”, “detox” and “declutter” their lives. The success of Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo, author of worldwide bestseller “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” and a Netflix series under the same name, is perhaps one of the biggest signs of this trend. Kondo advises people to only keep items which “spark joy”. In such a context, products positioned as “minimalist”, “craft” or “back to basics” become the new status symbols, the new way to show the world you’re sophisticated and unique. Just think of the rise of craft beers, “old school” barbershops, natural cosmetics, and restaurants and supermarkets offering fresh, organic, hyperlocal food.
Things are no different in fashion. Last year we saw a number of luxury brands change their logos, including Burberry, Balmain and Celine. Their choice for minimalist fonts and straight lines was not for nothing: the new luxury is simple, less is more. H&M’s decision to expand its “minimalist”, “seasonless” brands COS and Arket is no coincidence, either.
Bye bye, plastics
Euromonitor predicts consumers will increasingly use their wallets to protest against the excessive use of plastic. Single-use plastic packaging is frowned upon more and more, as are disposable plastic cutlery and plastic microbeads in cosmetics. Currently, 63 percent of the world’s packaging is made from plastic, which shows companies will need to take significant steps to keep their customers.
The fashion industry has seen many initiatives to reduce plastic waste in recent times. Several apparel collections made from recycled plastic bottles are available in the market, from brands like Everlane, Patagonia, C&A and H&M. Additionally, over 290 companies representing 20 percent of all plastic packaging produced globally signed a global commitment to end plastic waste and pollution at the source last year, including fashion retailers such as H&M, Walmart, Burberry, Target and Marks & Spencer.
But it’s not just plastics consumers are worried about. Welcome to the age of the #woke consumer, when companies are evaluated by their treatment of animals and working conditions across the supply chain. While the vegan lifestyle is on the rise, Euromonitor predicts even non-vegan consumers to adopt more animal-friendly behavior. That explains why massive e-tailer Asos stopped selling silk, cashmere and mohair last year.
JOMO: joy of missing out
You’ve probably heard the acronym FOMO, meaning “fear of missing out”. Well, it looks like consumers don’t care so much anymore. Attesting once more that people are growing tired of being constantly bombarded with new information, as well as of the blurred boundaries between work and personal life, a new acronym is coming to prominence: JOMO, “joy of missing out”. “The fear of being left out is giving place to the re-appropriation of self-time”, says Euromonitor. Consumers are looking to protect their mental health being by being more selective in their activities. An increasing number of people is reducing time online, leaving social networks, disconnecting from the Internet completely for certain periods of time or changing their smartphones for vintage flip phones.
Businesses are already catching up with the trend: just think of all the cafés which refuse to give customers their WiFi password, encouraging them to “talk to each other” instead. Spas and wellness centers are prospering, as are books and websites preaching “slow cooking”, “slow travel”, “slow fashion” etc. Speaking of fashion, the growth of athleisure and outdoor clothing may be connected to this trend.
Over the last decade, online communication has evolved immensely. Text and video chatting, real-time document collaboration, virtual meetings with participants across the globe… As more and more people have access to high-speed Internet, the range of things we can do together digitally is forecasted to grow even more, and we can also expect those interactions to become more life-like. Brands will react to this active sharing behavior by coming up with products and services based on artificial intelligence, virtual reality and predictive analytics.
Even though technology helps us to interact even with people who live miles apart, we’ve never been more alone. The number of single-person households is forecasted to outpace the growth of all other household sizes, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center. While baby boomers are known for the high divorce rates, young people are rejecting marriage and cohabitation altogether. It is estimated that the number of single-person households will increase by about 120 million by 2030, up about 30 percent on 2018. In addition, by the time today’s US young adults turn 50, 25 percent of them will have been single their whole life.
What does that mean? Less kids, more disposable income. Couple that with the joy of missing out and you’ll get an increasing number of adults using their spare time to travel, study and have fun. One can also expect a significant number of people to prefer living in denser, urban settings, instead of moving to the suburbs at a certain age. Another thing retailers should take into account is that people living alone prioritize convenience and affordability, as they bear the full cost of housing and utilities. Clothes that dry fast and don’t require ironing, for example, are likely to gain their preference.
Age is just a number, right? No other generation believes that more than baby boomers (1946-1964), according to Euromonitor. Especially in wealthier countries, where people have access to good healthcare and living conditions, older generations feel, behave and want to be treated as younger. Bear in mind the population is aging everywhere, not just in Western countries: in Japan, for example, half of the population will be over 50 years old by 2025. Therefore, products that are designed to be universally accepted, rather than having a specific generation in mind, are likely to rise in popularity — after all, different generations have much more in common than traditional advertising would lead us to think.
Picture credits: Pixabay, Choosy Facebook, FashionUnited, Courtesy of Recess, Courtesy of The Kooples + PETA, REI Facebook, Pixabay