TOP 10 CONSUMER TRENDS FOR 2010
08 February 2010
The 2010 consumer is a seasoned thrift practitioner who is now leaning towards a more positive post-recessionary
[nearly] optimism. Living through 2009 has left many craving for a happy ending including visible environmental
improvements in the real world. Technology is the luxury many no longer do without, even if traditional high-end
luxury feels like it's in rehab. Consumer homes are temples of technology-led entertainment while cyberspace
continues to fascinate more and older consumers, flattening world culture while connecting people in ways more
local. Meanwhile, the recession has pushed consumers to take a long hard look at their own 'personal brands' in an
uncertain world of shaky currencies and jobs. These concerns extend to health and wellness as consumers realise
cosy retirements are no longer a guaranteed part of their future.
Undoubtedly, many consumers will return to pre-recession spending patterns but for some, their views on
consumption and their behaviour may never be the same again. Globally, people under 35 will largely retain the
values of thrift, simplicity-seeking and green spending that they have been shocked into learning during the
recession when they've been forced to focus on price and value.
1. Caring consumption
2. Health kick - the goal of wellness
3. Home as entertainment venue
4. Hunger for happy endings and a slice of the dream
5. Luxury in rehab?
6. Me as a product
7. The allure of liftstyle multiculturalism
8. New leisure
9. Thrift as a consumer habit
10. Web 2.0 as a need
11. CARING CONSUMPTION
At the January 2010 US Annual Golden Globes awards James Cameron scooped the best director gong and best
drama film award for his blockbuster, set to become the most successful film ever made:
“Avatar asks us to see that everything is connected, all human beings to each other and us to the Earth," he said. A
sizable chunk of consumers agree, and feel proud that sharing a passion and receiving recognition from other
consumers for their green lifestyles and social responsibility may have replaced 'taking' as the new status symbol.
Challenging times see people craving care, empathy and generosity and the downturn has made many distrustful of
corporate ideology and keen on “cause consumption”. These consumers want to buy from brands who care about
society and who are striving to reduce the negative impacts of their products and services on the environment.
Companies need to reflect this societal shift which integrates personal values into purchasing choices to stay relevant
to this growing global demographic. By aligning themselves more closely to a host of personal and community
values close to shoppers' hearts, they will give their customers a sense of purpose through their purchases.
While the longer-term impact of what's been called the 'Great Recession' remains difficult to discern, it has clearly
forced people to re-evaluate their behaviours and attitudes. According to one US blogger: “I'd just rather spend my
time and resources on non-material things, a choice that also happens to be better for the earth since I don't need to
consume oodles of resource-gobbling stuff to be happy.” These feelings are just part of a mass of anecdotal evidence
suggesting that some are reacting by reorienting their personal goals away from consumption and towards
experience and rediscovering feelings of compassion for society and their environment. Significantly, The EU is
working on a new indicator that moves 'beyond GDP' to account for factors such as environmental progress.
Cause consumption is impacting relationships. US therapists note a rise in bickering within families over the extent
to which they should change their lives to save the planet. Thomas Joseph Doherty, a US clinical psychologist
affirms that the environment “touches every part of how they live: what they eat, whether they want to fly, what kind
of vacation they want.”
These feelings of concern are increasingly felt by consumers in emerging markets beyond the USA and Europe who
have an increased appetite for green products. Their sentiments are strengthened by the visibility of the effects of
'ungreen' behaviour like pollution and deforestation. Recent months have seen the launch of the first two green
supermarket chains in Brazil, with O Mundo Verde launching in January 2010 with 150 branches across the country.
“Finally we Brazilians are realizing that no growth is possible without sustainability”, affirmed a woman attending a
natural food course. Environmentally oriented working vacations are a new fad in Taiwan, with growing numbers of
people choosing to spend their days off with their sleeves rolled up working the land. An early 2010 Polish Foreign
Ministry poll found that 83% of Poles favour more financial support being sent to poorer countries, up on the 63%
sum in the same poll in 2004.
In 2010, with collaboration and giving such a part of the zeitgeist, it is likely that more brands will embed
sustainability allied with generosity in their products, allowing customers to donate to worthy causes. Already IKEA,
for instance, match solar-powered desk lamps sold with a gift of one to UNICEF. Climate change concerns are set to
become more entwined with everyday life too. Groceries and restaurant menus across Sweden, for instance, are
declaring the CO2 emissions per kilogram along with calories in a bid to give equal importance to climate and
12. HEALTH KICK – THE GOAL OF WELLNESS
Chart 2 Global health and wellness tourism market sizes: 2003-2008
Source: Euromonitor International from trade sources/national statistics
Note: Market sizes based on retail value RSP. Historic regional/global values are the aggregation of local currency country
data at current prices converted into the common currency using y-o-y exchange rates.
Good health and wellness are centre stage. It's not just about exercise but the empowerment of self-treating and
exploring new medical techniques. Spa visits, spiritual fulfilment, social tourism involving volunteering, medical
tourism and assorted therapies such as pet therapy, anti-stress therapy, anti-obesity retreats and life quality
evaluation form part of an extending 'long tail' of wellness treatments. The Argentinean expo-natural digital
magazine explains wellness as: “more than a trend, it is a need”.
“Middle-aged people don't get old anymore,” the head of gerontology at King's College, London told the UK's
Times newspaper. “They try to make midlife go on by expanding their lifestyle and extending their midlife values
for as long as possible.” Many “middle youth” have also taken up new careers, new hobbies and, sometimes, new
spouses and families in their 40s and 50s.
Although the recession has been delaying these projects, there is no doubt that we are near to the point when people
around the world will think of hospitals and medical treatment as a global commodity, as international standards
together with the feeling that an uncomfortable treatment can be turned into a more pleasant experience along with
lower prices make this idea more appealing. An interesting development is the convergence of wellbeing and health;
an example is the Longevity Wellness Resort in the Algarve. Alongside a spa are services such as blood profiling,
and food intolerance analysis.
The commercial impact of the consumer interest in health and wellness will continue to grow, both in terms of
services (such as the exercise industry) and in terms of products (healthy eating, diet and organic food). Consumers
in advanced economies are increasingly trying to balance indulgence with healthy consumption. Many national and
local government policymakers such as the Mexico City mayor, Marcelo Ebrar and tourism officials in the Bulgarian
government are encouraging the exploitation of the consumer interest in wellness and lengthier medical tourism
visits. Consumers' own content at blogs such as the eco-tourism-themed yourtravelchoice.org confirms that wellness
is high on tourists' priorities.
13. HOME AS ENTERTAINMENT VENUE
In 2010, for the millions of consumers around the world who've been forced to downsize, the home is the new
entertainment hub. It's frequently the staycation setting too. This summer's World Cup will provide an ideal
opportunity to see this trend played out.
This year will see even more consumers eating in and socialising in the home cocoon. “People are retreating back
into the home,” said Andrew Warner of electronics brand LG, at the January 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in
Las Vegas. “Nothing is recession-proof, but people are still buying televisions and audio equipment,” he explained.
An October 2009 Irish Times survey found 23% of people are much more likely to be entertaining at home
compared to a year ago.
The home is also a meeting place, where one can embrace community, and fits in snugly with a resilient, if thrift-
and green-tinged consumer interest in things local. There's a sense of pulling inwards in neighbourhoods as
consumers are reducing their radius. At the same time, the internet and social media can turn anyone into an activist
in the big, 'real world' although big brands will be forced to engage with local culture if they want to prosper.
Importantly, the home is also the site of an expression of consumer identity through activities linked to décor
improvements. For mounting numbers of consumers worldwide, home is also the place to satisfy a whimsical desire
for a back to nature feel and for wellness achieved through bringing nature closer to home. In Germany, for instance,
the Burda Group is planning a title called “Landglück” (country bliss). This will join four other recent German
consumer publications for country-lovers, often urbanites. One of New Zealand's top nutritionists, Jacquie Dale, in
response to the rising local spend on gardening believes: “Home gardens provide a great opportunity for the family
to spend time outdoors together away from the couch and the TV screen.”
14. HUNGER FOR HAPPY ENDINGS AND A SLICE OF THE DREAM
Chart 3 Cinema attendances per capita in selected countries: 2009
% growth since 2008
Source: Euromonitor International from European Audiovisual Observatory/national statistics
Consumers in 2010 will still be chasing happy endings and purchases that make them feel better. Fear of the outside
world, of financial troubles, job loss and pollution make them crave a delightful escape from reality. Things like
their fascination with cinema-going and vampire films, with celebrity lifestyles and celebrity-endorsed products and
reality shows where folks like themselves grab an unpredictable happy ending in real life or “pet parents”, beautiful
people social networking and risk free racing in the warmth of their homes lived out through gaming are all part of
this hunger for happiness that lingers within recession-fatigued consumers. Online dating sites such as eHarmony
who noted hits increased when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 100 points highlight the link
between financial stress and the consumer appeal of website dating. This happiness quest is global. Think of the
joyful consumer reactions to 'spontaneous' flash mobs (A group of people who gather suddenly at a predetermined
time in a public place to dance or play out another unexpected activity).
This desire for happiness also explains why the feeling that Tiger Woods has let people down has animated US
conversations in the New Year. Despite the high divorce rate, Americans prefer the fairy tale. In September 2009,
French president Nicholas Sarkozy told the French national statistics agency to include metrics of happiness and
quality of life in their measurements of overall economic health.
Savvy consumers in advanced economies know the difference between brands who want to sell happiness and
brands that want to facilitate it, and they will endorse those brands that help them find and create happiness within
themselves. Values that cannot be bought such as family, love, and friendship are very much at the forefront. This
provides a challenge for companies to capture such emotions in their products. Brands would do well to associate
themselves with something carefree, possibly to the extent that it makes people “feel like a child again”.
15. LUXURY IN REHAB?
Many consumers associate ostentatious consumption with the corporate greed that they blame for the downturn and
numerous commentators see this as a shift in consumer psychology that will endure. Dr Clive Hamilton, a visiting
scholar at Cambridge University stresses, the "suffering rich" feel poor which doesn't bode well for luxury brands. A
new generation of Japanese fashionistas does not even aspire to luxury brands and enjoy perusing second-hand
clothing stores that have sprung up across Japan. “People used to feel they needed a Louis Vuitton to fit in, but
younger girls don't think like that anymore,” says Izumi Hiranuma, 19.
Status is now expressed instead by lifestyle choices, time, space and knowledge, cultural capital, products with a
'story' to tell and the enjoyment of “ecolux” items. At the same time, more discreet classically luxurious items or
artisan-made products will still be a symbol for members of your own 'tribe' and 'curated' luxury ranges will continue
to appeal to the wealthy.
While the old rich may be tightening their purse strings, 2010 is simultaneously witnessing a new tranche of
consumers. Millions of newly established middle class consumers, particularly in India and China are sampling
'affordable' luxury via self-treating on 'entry level' luxury products. A slice of luxury could be a short spa treatment,
luxury pet foods or chocolates which in themselves don't signify a luxury lifestyle.
While Western consumers can be expected to take small and tentative steps back into the luxury industry, Asian
consumers are embracing luxury in a way that was previously only found in the Middle East. The BRICs and other
developing economies are breeding grounds for emerging middle classes that are drawn to the consumption of high-
end goods in their more traditional, 'blingtastic' sense. With BRIC and many developing economies more buoyant,
millions more people have discovered the delights of shopping as entertainment, and consumption as identity rather
than necessity. According to Sidney Toledano of Christian Dior, couture is so strategic today because “The emerging
countries are becoming sophisticated in a very fast way".
Several global luxury brands are continuing to inject a local feel into their wares to resonate with local demands.
Chanel launched a new collection in Shanghai in December 2009, inspired by Chinese fashion of the 1930s and
1940s. The South Korean online newspaper, The Chosun Ilbo, insightfully headlined the report on the launch:
“Chanel Turns to China for Inspiration and Cash”. The Chinese are also becoming expert online luxury consumers.
Ten thriving luxury sites include Beijing-based eushophq.com (which saw 40% growth in 2009), Shanghai-based
51bangde.com and Guangzhou-based yide.com. In the scramble to lure Russia's rich, luxury executives claim to
have understood a few basic principles. One is the creation of a personal relationship with wealthy consumers, who
are typically younger than in the developed markets of Europe, Japan and the United States. These consumers are
increasingly savvy about products they desire, and demand impeccable service.
Chart 4 Households with an annual disposable income over US$10,000 in selected countries:
Source: Euromonitor International from national statistics
Note: Values of fewer than 500 households are rounded to zero. Data for 2010 onwards is forecast.
16. ME AS A PRODUCT
Consumers are transforming themselves like brands – revising the presentation of themselves and what they are
about/they offer online and in the real world. They can do this through what they wear, what they know and have
recently learnt through training and retraining, and via attention to wellness and even plastic surgery. Consumption
is still about defining yourself through what you buy in terms of sending out signals to others, but it's gotten more
Consumers care less about brands. They want self-focused content but it will now be more up to them to embody a
story with what they consume. Buying from niche brands means they can't rely on products or services to provide
them with that instant recognition and admiration from their peers. The 'mass' that consumers are willing to put up
with is typically made up of products they don't really care about (and, can get for less at discounters).
The idea of the person as a product ties in with the current stress away from the group and on individuality,
especially among Asia-Pacific consumers. The 'me as a product' trend is also linked to the fascination with Web 2.0
and mobile communications. Me as a brand is not only but largely an online phenomenon as so many fellow
consumers, potential partners and increasingly company brands we communicate with are online, while every
posting and blog comment is glued onto our online personas. Expected debates on privacy reveal a clear generation
chasm with younger consumers less worried about safeguarding it.
The economic downturn has meant that millions of consumers now recognize lifelong training i.e. constant
rebranding as a fact of life and are going for “edutainment” offerings (personalised and playful learning tools).
Consumers in emerging markets are exploiting a wide range of self-development tools in order to learn, earn, and
achieve the aspirational lifestyle they desire. This trend takes in:
• The consumption trails left by consumers online which companies like Amazon.com use to style personal
recommendation lists based on users' browsing history, for instance. With millions of online profiles, 2010
could see some consumers willing to disclose some of their purchasing intentions and inviting companies to put
• Dedicated social networking sites for careerists. Work wise; is your product willing to travel far? Perhaps you
are a migrant commuter and part of “Generation Exodus” or you're among the millions of consumers with a re-
found love for things local? Status comes from an audience appreciative of what one knows and can create and
less what one consumes or experiences;
• Reselling consumed things on;
• Reaching out to and connecting with the niche and long tail (obscure) interests of others;
• Increased consumer interest in online self-branding experts and online identity 'repackagers';
• Brand endorsements by individual consumers.
17. THE ALLURE OF LIFESTYLE MULTICULTURALISM
The thinking on globalisation has matured. While consumer analysts have stressed a renewed consumer interest in
things local, our world, largely through the influence of cyberspace, continues to be driven by global influences and
Drivers of cultural flows include urbanisation and global mobility, particularly the “extreme commuters” - real
citizens of the world, as well as the spread of media devices, immigration and social integration and increased
exposure to other cultures. The exchange and blending of cultural influences – brands, products, art, books, lifestyles
– at a global level - exposes individuals and societies to new ideas and ways of thinking.
The biggest change in South Korea, for instance, is arguably an increasing multicultural Korean society.
Euromonitor International figures show that the number of foreign residents neared one million in 2009, and that this
segment grew by 73.6% between 2003-2009.This figure includes expatriates, foreign students, and Korean men
marrying foreign wives.
The new outward-looking middle class in many African cities, the so-called Afropolitans, for instance, are the face
of a renovating Africa. Today's growing upwardly mobile class are both globalised and localised in their aspirations
and anxieties, proud of being African and ready to bring a new image of the continent to the world. As a witness to
this trend, Kenyan retail chain Nakumatt keeps expanding with malls in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. "It's
psychological - people want upward movement," said Thiagarajan Ramamurthy of the company.
The latest wellness trends have to do with the consumer demand for a spiritual vibe and even ancestral cultures,
competitive advantages that many tourist destinations are now enjoying as the economic downturn has also brought
another need: mental health. Budget airlines and accommodation and extended travel are also part of this consumer
interest in exotic lifestyles.
18. NEW LEISURE
Many consumers have found that they've quite liked holidaying at or closer to home for their holidays even though
thrift was the main driver. Many stressed out and exhausted consumers relish the idea of spending their free time at
home; often it's the widely travelled that are realising their own country's vast potential for tourism. Staycations are
also ideal settings for 'experience consumption'. Rather than buying things, consumers are increasingly engaging in
shared activities that can occur in places ranging from the hiking trail to the cinema, galleries and museum and their
kitchens and gardens. The growing sophistication of personal gadgets has also encouraged a trend towards “outdoor
cocooning” as netbooks, smartphones and media players allow consumers to shut off their physical surroundings and
enter their own world as they do in the home. Staycations also fit nicely with the knowledge among the
environmentally-aware that faraway holidays aren't green.
Staycations are now a global phenomenon that goes beyond countries like the USA, UK and Germany. The Japan
Times reports that Japanese consumers are seeking to economise and ease the stresses of daily life by shopping
online, watching DVDs and eating in, converting their homes into comfortable 'nests'. This phenomenon is known as
“sugomori”. Unlike staycationers in the USA and Europe, Japanese “nesting” is all about staying in and home
entertaining and online mail order companies selling FMCG like baking ingredients and bread makers are reaping
Economic anxieties mean that many young Chinese are also opting for a staycation. “In the past, a lot of students
would go to Europe for a holiday after they graduated from university,” says Hu Yang, the co-founder of a chain of
youth hostels and budget hotels. “But this year it's not so easy to find a job. So now more young people want to wait
until their life is more stable before going abroad.” The tastes of young Chinese travellers are also changing, says
Hu, and they are seeking more relaxed and unique holiday experiences. Destinations such as Naked Retreats, a new
eco-resort west of Shanghai, are becoming popular with young urbanities, offering outdoor activities such as
trekking and climbing, and the opportunity to eat fresh, simple, local food. In South Korea, a trend regaining
popularity is “experience leisure”, taking in exploration, nature and eco-travel.
19. THRIFT AS A CONSUMER HABIT
Consumers globally have had time to become adept at practicing thrift to the extent that for many it has become
routine. Even if 2010 will be seen as a post-recessionary period in many countries, a tendency to flit from one
offering to another is likely to be lasting as consumer loyalty to brands and traditional ways of shopping had become
Even timid consumers have become skilled at bartering, fluent users of comparison websites and comfortable with
online group buying. A bargaining culture is taking hold in major US stores like Best Buy according to the New
York Times. Thrift has the bonus of making consumers appear greener to their peers too. Online resale sites such as
eBay have been joined by niche sites such as Ex-Boyfriend Jewelry.com while the trend for “swishing” – finding
new homes for trendy clothes by swapping them - is on the rise and a hit with fashionistas via sites in countries like
the USA, China, South Africa and Brazil. In addition to being consumers, many onliners are sellers too. According
to China's top auction website Taobao, a total of 63 million Chinese were running internet businesses at the end of
June 2009. Thrift has also altered consumer aspirations. Tens of thousands of what Mexican newspaper El
Financiero calls “Migrant consumers” are taking advantage of stronger currencies to shop across borders. Mexicans
and Canadians are coming to the USA and Australians are going on “shopovers” all over Asia.
In 2010, all successful consumer products and services will be thrift-savvy to appeal to the sustained consumer
association of value as quality, not just price. This awareness is reaching younger 'digital native' consumers. A
popular iPhone/iTouch app, for instance, is called My Shopping Lists. “Have you ever been shopping and ended up
not buying what you originally set out to buy?” reads the promo. This product steers consumers away from
consumption temptations with tips leading them back to the straight and narrow path of their original shopping lists.
Another app for frugalistas, RedLaser, allows mobiles to read barcodes before coming up with a list of comparable
prices of that product from a range of websites. Thrift has also made it onto school curriculums. 2010 will see UK
schoolchildren from primary school onwards given compulsory lessons in budgeting and avoiding debt.
An early 2010 NY Times piece profiles “New Poor” middle class US consumers who have learnt to value
experiences over purchases. These include a former “buy, buy, buy” family in Miami whose “priorities have shifted
from products to activities” and who are pictured in the used canoe they bought through Craigslist. Attendance at
cultural venues and events, already up for the first time in several years in 2009, is expected to soar in 2010. “It's a
different kind of recession,” said Richard Florida, author of several best-selling books about the economics of cities.
“It's not like in the '30s when people stopped going to concerts. Now people seem to be keeping up with experience
consumption and cutting back on other necessities.” For more on the New Poor, please refer to the following
Euromonitor International pieces: Special Report: The “new poor” in developed economies as the risk of poverty
increases among middle class households and Bye bye bling bling: Middle class New Poor struggle to cope with
20. WEB 2.0 AS A NEED
Chart 5 Global internet users: 2008-2010
Source: Euromonitor International from International Telecommunications Union/World Bank/Trade Sources
Note: Data for 2010 is forecast
Euromonitor International figures show that there were 1.8 billion global internet users in 2009. All of these have
shifted parts of their lives online. Our hunger to stay connected persists. More older people are internet-savvy and
overcoming security and privacy concerns to buy online. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-
old females. At the same time, the rapid pace of technology is creating 'micro generations', where even teenagers are
left behind by younger siblings. California professor, Larry Rosen, shows 16 to 18-year-olds can perform seven tasks
on average in their free time (texting, checking social networking sites, watching TV etc.) overtaking people in their
early '20s (6) and those in their early '30s (5.5).
Pope Benedict XVI will use his World Communications Day message in May to encourage the clergy to start
blogging and using the internet and social media to connect better with their flocks. For millions of consumers,
having an audience for their online output is a status symbol. Social networking is predicted to play a huge role in
this summer's football World Cup. Several studies have confirmed that people feel cut off when the internet goes
down, or mobile coverage is scant.
The documented consumer reliance on peer review when planning purchases continues to challenge and transform
advertising and brand behaviour. Consumers are partners now. As head of US ad agency Droga5, Dave Droga says:
“The best type of advertising is participation advertising. The day when we were just storytellers is over.” Despite a
recent legally-enforced transparency in the USA on what is known as “blogger payola” - bloggers praising brands in
return for cash/giveaways - consumers remain keen to blog about their good and bad consumption experiences.
Consumers now crave being updated in real time which explains the millions of sites, services, instant verdicts on
products and services, allergen updates and apps that facilitate instant checking, tracking, alerting, visualizing and
mapping. Singer John Mayer puts it well: “You don't go, ' I'm gonna put this conversation with the woman I love on
my iPod and listen to it on the subway'. You have to be present, in this synthetic, listen-later sort of world.”
Another billion people in developing nations can't wait to join the digital bandwagon: soon their phones and low-cost
netbooks will come equipped with some kind of online connection. The recent launch of Facebook Lite, a pared
down version of the site for users with slow internet connections hopes to boost membership numbers in areas such
as India and South America.
The impact of this Web 2.0 revolution is spilling over into the 'real world' which is adjusting to and mirroring the
increasingly dominant online world, taking in everything from tone of voice to product development to customer
relationships. Big brands have digital care directors and corporate Twitterers etc.
Web 2.0 is free time for millions. Gerd Leonhard, futurist and writer, points out: “Kids now only listen to music,
they don't download it. Developments like WiFi, 4G iPhones, fancy Nokias, have all turned streaming music into the
new radio.” Consumers skip television ads, but they will listen to a sponsor message when they get free music in
return. Consumers have also demonstrated that they will upgrade to technology they perceive as desirable that keeps
them connected. More than half of 3,000 Britons surveyed before Apple's new iPad tablet computer was unveiled at
the end of January 2010, said that they wanted it, no matter the price; the hype surrounding these devices transforms
launches into cultural events.
<a class="embedlink" href="http://www.euromonitor.com/countries_consumers.aspx">Countries and