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5 Consumer Trends Leading Brands to Innovation

Posted By: SGK March 28, 2017


A consumer trend is a new manifestation among people — in behavior, attitude, or expectation — of a fundamental human need, want or desire. It’s clear, brands that deeply understand their consumers are better suited to stay ahead of accelerating customer expectations. By tracking and analyzing these expectations, brands can discover opportunities to innovate.

In our recent BrandSquare webinar, Maxwell Luthy, Director of Trends and Insights at TrendWatching, reveals five big trends that are redefining customer expectations in 2017.

Watch the entire webinar here:

 5 Trends for 2017


Brands must be able to constantly look for changing expectations and adjust to how they’re going to meet consumers’ basic needs by looking to innovations throughout the world.

When new innovators arise — whether it’s major brands or startups — and they heighten what consumers expect, brands must keep track of this in order to stay ahead in the areas of branding, marketing, product design, and customer experience.

“If you over-focus on technology, you tend to forget the core human needs and wants that it should serve,” says Luthy.

Here are the five big trends that are redefining customer expectations in 2017 that point the way to what customers will want next:

Virtual experience economy. Recently, there has been a status shift away from products as status symbols — whether that be luxury watches, handbags, or sports cars — towards collecting experiences.

Consumers are going out and participating in unique activities like “hot tub movie nights” or “dining in the sky” by enjoying a three-course meal while hanging over a city, because the experience provides a story to tell that comes along with a rewarding status boost. In fact, according to The Martini Report (Nov. 2015), 80 percent of affluent consumers would choose a luxury experience over a luxury item.

The more consumers engage with these interesting experiences, the more they share on social media — whether that be through images on Instagram, or sharing a live video through Facebook or Snapchat. Experiences in a way have become as abundant as products, and as a result, digital experiences, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have become real status currency for millions of consumers.

Capacity capture. Consumers hate waste — especially when it comes to time, food, and packaging. One thing that really heightened consumers expectations around producing waste is the sharing economy. Think: Uber and Airbnb. This is the idea that we are now connected to services that were previously idle. Most consumers never thought their guest bedroom was an asset until Airbnb showed everyone they could make additional income by renting out their space.

With that, consumers have become efficiency experts and are now looking for brands to capture that idle capacity and claim lost value from wasted resources, all for the good of society and the planet.

Incognito individuals. People are more empowered than ever to embrace their own identity — being free from assumptions about their demographic market. Unfortunately, systematic, institutional, and peer prejudices are still present, however the desire to live freely is not going away.

One solution we’re seeing in 2017 is incognito individuals. This is the idea that consumers will embrace new tools, services and platforms that strip away the identity imposed on them by demographic circumstances.

First responders. One way big brands try to own the love of consumers is to keep up with startups. Big brands are leveraging their expanded resources to positively contribute to society as first responders in the face of a crisis by embracing the infrastructure they already have in place.

Consumers are expecting these brands to react quickly to situations that impact people around the world — proving to consumers that you care about them. After all, agility isn’t just for startups!

Ethical educators. Consumers are always looking to become better people — and it’s not just about being in top physical shape! This is also about optimizing their entire life. They will reward brands that serve up the new tools, platforms and experiences that can help them find the answers.

Keep in mind, trends are completely useless unless you apply them. These five trends are only the starting point to making your consumers lifelong advocates for your brand!

For more insights on innovation to meet consumer needs, download: Beyond Best Practices: How to Win in a Dynamic Market