Five consumer trends heading into 2024

Mintel’s director of trends, EMEA, Simon Moriarty, identified key consumer trends set to shape the year ahead

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Mintel, the market intelligence and research agency, has identified five consumer trends in the EMEA markets that are set to affect brands and companies in 2024 and the longer-term.

Simon Moriarty, director of trends, EMEA for Mintel, delivered a webinar, Spotlight on EMEA 2024 Global Consumer Trends, exploring Mintel’s predictions for the year ahead.
A black and white image of Simon laughing and smiling
Simon Moriarty
The five trends include: Relationships renaissance, Being human, More than money, Positive perspectives, and the New green reality.

Talking to OT about how businesses on the High Street, such as optometry practices, might look to consider these trends, Moriarty said: “While cost of products or services will always be the core motivator for the majority of consumers, brands and retailers that have a clear wellbeing objective will continue to succeed.

“They can enhance their reputation by highlighting added elements of value, such as sustainability, support for local and global communities, artisanal craftsmanship, and ethicality,” he added.

Within this, authentic and transparent claims and communication are important to meet the demands of what Moriarty described as “well-informed, conscientious and questioning customers.”

There is an opportunity for businesses to explain the benefits of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) in optimising treatments and solutions alongside the human expertise of specialists, he added, or in using technology to create bespoke products.

Meanwhile, in sectors where consumers can have concerns around health, lifestyle changes, or perceived stigmas, Moriarty recommended: “spreading elements of joy and playfulness can help alleviate these concerns, both in the process of experiences such as eye examinations and in the choosing of frames and styles.”

The five trends in brief

1 Relationships renaissance

While technology has provided a plethora of ways to stay connected, and a vital link to the outside world during periods of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mintel has identified a desire amongst consumers for real-world relationships.

Over the next 12 months, social connection will be critical, Moriarty suggested, adding that public and private organisations could look for ways to help consumers shift passive relationships to active ones.

He emphasised, however, that this desire for connection does not mean consumers are looking to drop social media or their online relationships, but build physical ones too.

2 Being human

The growing capabilities of AI create a complex response amongst consumers, as the technology holds opportunities to enhance day-to-day life, but also poses areas of concerns.

There is a desire to work alongside technology and showcase how tools such as AI can ease the burden on workload, but Moriarty shared that human skills will be required to make the most out of advancements in technology.

In the next 12 months, Mintel expects to see brands leveraging technology to optimise lives, and in the next 18 months to two years, analysts anticipate the rise of “human as premium” placing greater value on the skills of artisans.

Mintel pointed out that despite the benefits, for some consumers there is a concern about being left behind, and Moriarty encouraged brands to remember that tech is not one-size-fits-all.

Over the longer-term of five years or more, Moriarty suggested that AI will become more intuitive, enabling a more seamless adaptation in daily life, but that there will be some areas where the human touch just can’t be replaced.

3 More than money

The cost-of-living crisis is affecting financial wellbeing and leading to consumers reassessing their priorities. This affects not just purchase decisions, but the consumer’s perception of value.

Value is key, and while sustainability, convenience and heritage remain important factors, Moriarty encouraged brands to illustrate why these add value.

In the next 12 months factors such as durability, versatility and craftsmanship will be signifiers of quality, while sustainability and convenience can also increase the perception of a brand.

Moriarty described a move towards consumers affiliating themselves with the brands that they feel align to their values.

Over the next 18 months to two years, Mintel anticipates a greater awareness of subscription models, and a perception of the circular economy as something that is not just good for the planet but for the pocket.

Moriarty also emphasised the level of uncertainty consumers currently face in the world, suggesting there could be a level of scepticism and scrutiny of brands that don’t meet expectations, and that will drive a change in perception of value.

Game-changing brands will foster an emotional connection with consumers, he shared, while personalised products help to tap into a sense of exploration.

4 Positive perspectives

Moriarty noted that for consumers: “uncertainty is the only certainty,” but that brands and people can work together to handle this in new ways.

Mintel outlined the range of uncertainties and challenges facing consumers in the year ahead: soaring prices, political instability, and AI advancement.

Brands should look to present services that fit the current reality and help to alleviate these feelings, supporting consumers to feel grounded and reassured, Moriarty suggested.

In the longer-term, he shared that brands can play a role in helping to normalise emotions, support different lifestyles, and facilitate building resilience.

5 Coping with climate – the new green reality

Consumers are facing the reality of the existential climate threat, and as sustainability is becoming essential, brands will be pushed to continuously innovate.

Companies will need to reinforce climate messaging beyond reducing carbon footprint to regenerating and giving back.

Consumers will also expect to see brands demonstrating measurable impact and meaningful progress.

Over a five-year outlook, Mintel suggests that climate inaction will be a “costly choice” for companies and brands, as consumers are looking for brands to take responsibility and lead.