In the new year we often look back reflexively on events of the previous 12 months. It’s also important to squint and look at what’s coming next. At SPC, we’ve always got at least one eye on the future, and we appreciate anyone who helps make tomorrow a little clearer.
Our focus is always on helping marketers (our customers) get a better handle on reaching their audiences: Fully variable messaging. Top-notch production. Smarter brand marketing and messaging. Anticipating the needs of their customers. In keeping with this forward-looking orientation, I attended an event with our strategic partners at Mintel Comperemedia (Mintel), a global provider of competitive intelligence, customer engagement metrics, and expert analysis of direct mail, to better understand how consumers think about themselves and the world. There were dozens of insights and a lot of actionable advice for marketers, but here are some of the biggest trends and strategies that I’ll be keeping an eye on this year.
Six Consumer Trends for 2019
This trend crosses multiple customer verticals and includes physical health as well as mental and emotional health. It’s no longer enough for brands to silo “health” into one category. We see a variety of brands touting one aspect of healthy living, inviting consumers to events that use the products they sell, or partnering with a charity to raise awareness or funds.
Examples: Collagen infused spirits. Weight Watchers rebranding. Probiotic Ice Cream.
Next, we looked at consumers accepting new challenges—whether it is to try something new or go above-and-beyond in their current endeavors. Food brands are offering unexpected flavor combinations and athletic wear brands are challenging consumers to make social media sharing a part of their workout accountability.
Examples: Mayonnaise flavored ice cream. Reebok’s Chilean “Run For Life” with fire fighters.
This trend focuses on our generation’s re-definition of the path through adulthood on towards retirement. It’s important for brands to recognize current financial pressures and the gig economy, both of which are changing the way adults make (or don’t make) big purchases and save (or don’t save) for the future.
Examples: GE’s search for the Great American Grandma. Advertising by Credit Karma.
This trend isn’t just about banning plastic straws, but also includes overall environmental awareness. Consumers are paying attention to the waste they create and questioning practices by brands that don’t appear environmentally responsible. Brands are tasked with reevaluating their own environmental practices and educating consumers about their efforts to do so—and doing so in an authentic way.
Examples: UK brand a2 Milk switching packaging. Athletic wear made from recycled plastic PET bottles and fishing nets.
Brands on Display
Following those, this trend focuses on the fact that social media outlets have changed the brand landscape and the way consumers view brands. This fishbowl effect gives brands a chance to develop a personality, practice true transparency or take a stance on social and political issues.
Examples: Gillette’s new “We Believe” ad about men. Food brands like Auntie Anne’s moving their brand distinctives into the apparel space.
The final trend Mintel predicted for 2019 is one of social isolation. Social media envy, ease of online shopping, ubiquitous home delivery, and consumers remaining single longer are all contributing to greater loneliness. Brands should be sensitive to how they help singles connect or how they can respect a consumer’s choice to be less connected.
Examples: The Novera mirror is popular in Japan. The connection-building Chanel Game Centers.
Our strategic partners at Mintel recommend that brands reach across categories to incorporate strategies, technology and approaches from other industries. An example might be a beauty brand that draws inspiration from a beverage brand.
Mintel also recommends that brands help guide their consumers with authentic, expert advice. With so much information available, consumers are looking to brands as trusted resources to point them down the right path. Education is a crucial aspect of a well-formed marketing strategy, like the grocery chain proving how its practices are the best-available solution (how wrapping food in plastic still has significant environmental benefits, helping to dramatically reduce food waste).
In 2019, consumers expect the best brands to be authentic and transparent. Marketing efforts should be genuine while also communicating a consistent constellation of messages aimed at the right audiences.
It is important to understand that even if a particular trend doesn’t directly relate to your industry or product, it still may describe what’s important to your consumers—and that’s key.
Today’s strongest brands are better at understanding and absorbing large amounts of customers’ data on their interactions with the brand, and that data is rich with opportunity. Available print technology helps deploy actionable data and truly dynamic content for direct mail campaigns. Hyper-personalized direct marketing builds the crucial consumer/brand relationship, guides the consumer to their own best use of the brand, and satisfies the desire for a one-to-one experience. Direct mail is a key ingredient in making sure that trends become reality for the best brands.
Thanks to our collaborators at Mintel for sharing their expertise and perspectives.