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4 Consumer Trends to Watch for in 2016

Posted By: SGK February 01, 2016
4 Consumer Trends to Watch for in 2016

Last Thursday, we tuned into BrandSquare’s Live Session with Mintel’s Consumer Trends Analyst, Jenny Zegler, to learn more about consumer trends to look out for in 2016. In this article, we will go over our key takeaways, and for your reading pleasure, we have included screenshots of the presentation, below:

These findings are a part of Mintel’s Annual Trends project, where they brought together analysts in five countries from a variety of industries, including, but not limited to:

  •  Beauty
  •  Food and Drink
  • Automotive
  • Financial
  • Telecommunications

More than 100 analysts brainstormed trends and common themes occurring in their space. They contributed their thoughts and input into this report, and came up with 4 consumer trends for the North American markets.

The first being the “Balance or Bust” trend, which refers to the ways multifaceted consumers are finding harmony by going to extremes. Think: Bacon Fest to Juice Cleanses. These are on completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of unhealthy to healthy purchases and decision-making processes, but many consumers find themselves participating in both. Jenny points out that these kinds of decisions are not random, but are more of an “understood behavior” of modern consumers.

The other trend Jenny briefly mentions is “Pride & Persona”, referring to companies looking to strengthen relationships with consumers by recognizing our more diverse and open-minded society. Think: Transgender celebrities on the cover of TIME magazine. Consumers are now looking for companies and brands to be more accepting and to showcase different races, genders, and backgrounds in their advertisements, marketing communications, and the products they create.

Specifically, Jenny goes more in-depth with “The Big Brand Theory” and the “Eye Get It” trends in this Live Session, which are outlined below:

The Big Brand Theory – A brand’s story can make or break consumer purchases, which is driving the growth of craft, but not necessarily leaving big business behind.

This is the trend where we see consumers getting more excited about hearing stories about brands and gaining connection with things they buy.

Jenny points out that before the global financial crisis, many consumers were “super-sizing” their lifestyles with huge products, like Hummers. However, in 2016, Mintel predicts consumers will reverse the “bigger is better” mantra for right-sized purchases and the move toward supporting small businesses. This is the thought process that might have lead to the increased popularity of farmers markets and the push for organic, locally sourced, products.

This will impact the food and beverage space, which Mintel anticipates will focus more on craftsmanship and delivering a brand message and/or story that consumers will respect, who can now learn more about the maker and the production process.

The kinds of authentic stories companies and brands are telling to connect with consumers include:

  • Romantic – emotional, personal
  • Outlandish – legendary, exciting

Genuine stories are the most powerful stories brands will be telling in 2016. These are the stories that will give consumers security in the products they buy and ideally, will lead to increased loyalty to a particular brand. To leverage this, bigger brands are partnering with small companies to meet the “local” needs of their mutual consumers.

Eye Get It – An image is worth a thousand words, but consumers now rely on it for timesavings, too.

It’s no surprise that the power of images is mentioned in Mintel’s 2016 Consumer Trend report. This trend is rooted in the fact that consumers’ shortening attention spans are driving the need for immediate gratification in brand messaging.

Consumers are now more likely to base their buying research and decisions by browsing apps like Instagram and Pinterest. Even the “Buy It” icon seen on Pinterest is changing the way consumers buy products.

Another thing to note when touching on the topic of visuals is the increased usage of online streaming apps like periscope, GIFs, virtual reality, and emojis to communicate. This is important for brands looking to connect with their audience since emojis are the fasted growing form of universal language ever. The opportunity here is to create unique messaging by developing branded emojis. These are icons specifically related to the product or service a company provides, and can be communicated with consumers via mobile device or keyboard app.

The takeaway here is that with visuals, companies and brands will save consumers’ time throughout the buying journey. Jenny shares an interesting stat that “34% of US adult primary or secondary household shoppers prefer to see symbols rather than words on beverage packaging” which is something to consider when adding “organic” or “fare-trade” visuals to your branding mix, which mentioned above, is an important part of storytelling for modern brands.

Overall, engaging consumers with authentic storytelling and intriguing visuals will be the key strategies behind many successful companies and brands in 2016.

View the full episode >> Live Session – Jenny Zegler: Mintel’s 2016 North America Consumer Trends


For more information on future Live Session episodes, or to become an expert contributor, head over to the BrandSquare website.