The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) recently announced its top 10 trends, compiled as the result of various NMI research sources.
According to NMI President Maryellen Molyneaux, "Consumer desire for control is the overriding theme across all of our 2007 trends. Consumers express their desire for control across their health, lifestyle, finance and other critical issues, while at the same time they want new innovative products, more information and show increasingly fragmented behavior.
The Age of the Individual. The Age of the Individual is exploding in reaction to mass marketing and a declining trust in the traditional authorities of church, government and the corporation, driving a culture of consumer-generated content, products and services that are "made just for me." Consumer customization spans everything from personalized beverages with programmable bottles, Puma's custom-designed sneakers, to Toyota's successfully customizable Scion. This trend for greater authority and self-discovery is also witnessed in the health decision making process, with an emergence of "independent attitudes" driving greater polarization of health and wellness at both ends of the spectrum, while increases in "condition specific" supplements reflect further expansion in the "made for me" culture.
Seize the Moment. From the rental of couture handbags and luxury car timeshares to "pop up" retail events, consumers increasingly respond to the temporary in a culture that is less permanent and forever on the move. For the health and wellness category, this means faster product lifecycles as consumers demand greater innovation and exhibit a greater willingness to try new products regardless of brand. This decline in brand loyalty is witnessed across categories, including the beverage category, as consumers seek the thrill of discovery of new products, new flavors and innovative packaging concepts. In addition, these "forever on the move" consumers will drive new innovation in healthy convenience.
A Deeper Values Experience. The retail and brand "New Luxury" explosion that made consumers expect an extremely high level of experience at every touch point is now evolving beyond the physical and emotional dimensions to the experience of fundamental core values. From luxury hybrid cars to couture dresses made from organic and sustainable fabrics, it is not enough to have it all -- we also want to feel better about what we have. This is reflected in the growth of Ecotourism (which is outpacing the travel industry), cause marketing programs exploding as sourcing, materials, trade practices and social causes become a part of the consumer brand experience, as well as the growing popularity in organic products, along with the willingness to pay the 20% premium.
Back to the Future. In response to decades of over-massification, consumers are embracing back-to-the-future simplicity, authenticity, hand-crafted and a belief that quality is better than quantity. Consumers are gravitating to smaller footprint retail environments, including a resurgence of "high street" shopping for one-of-a-kind offerings including "artsinal" and handmade goods. Products with legible labels, simplified ingredients and reassuring packaging are also experiencing success. Nowhere is the back-to-the-future movement more apparent than the explosive growth of consumer brands perceived to be "small and authentic."
The New Fear Factor. Scandals across religious, government and corporate institutions began the erosion of trust, while the explosion of widespread technology in a post 9/11 world is creating a highly fear-based society, driving consumers to attempt to take ever-greater control of their environment, property, time and safety. Consumers appear to be "shutting down" as a result of these mounting external factors, with growing concerns about food safety, climate change and a reliance on fossil fuels. This is translating into an increased desire for safer foods and beverages, organic and environmentally-friendly products, and significant opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to build market share through trust and reassurance.
It's Reigning Men. Men's personal care is the fastest-growing segment in the Bath and Body Care category, driven by "The Massification of Metrosexuals", creating permission for a broad target of men to participate fully in the category. Men's personal care products are enjoying explosive expansion across generations and look for offerings in the year ahead to target the needs of men, including Teens and 'Tweens. In addition, more men are gaining exposure to the category as a result of their participation as primary grocery shoppers almost doubling in recent years. Look for them to be increasingly accommodated in the "traditionally female" environments of grocery, drug and specialty retail.
The New Consumer-Centric Media. New media is putting the consumer in greater control in a content-driven world, changing the role of branding from one of authority to that of a peer. Websites are increasingly enabling consumers to customize their on-line experience, creating tight-knit communities of like-minded people driving word-of-mouth about products and services as a result. The Internet is a growing platform for the Wellness industry in particular, as consumers confirm the increased influence of the Internet on their healthy and natural purchases. In fact, consumers are currently shopping the Internet in varying frequency for healthy and natural products.
Memory Fast Lane. Consumers have an insatiable demand for knowledge and learning as keys to self-actualization, creating an ever-increasing desire to maintain and optimize brain power. With distractions and 24/7 connectivity intensifying, consumers find their ability to concentrate and retain memory being drastically reduced. Not only a problem among Boomers, consumers across all age groups indicate significant concern about preventing concentration and memory problems. Nearly three-quarters of consumers are currently using supplements, foods or beverages to prevent memory problems and further opportunities exist to target the needs of consumers -- from students, to gamers to moms to seniors.
Working Women Revisited. After years in the work force, women -- and especially mothers -- are revisiting everything from flex time to dinner time as the pendulum swings back to find center. A watershed study linked women's entrance into the workforce in the 1970s with a significant decline in children's diets, including the onset of Juvenile Diabetes, childhood obesity and other health implications. This is resulting in more Americans committing to eating dinner at home together at least three times a week, to working women looking for healthy convenience in snacking and meals solutions, both at home and away-from-home.
The Centenarian Century. Seniors living past 100, the fastest-growing demographic group, raise critical concerns regarding society's preparedness and ability to deliver the healthcare, insurance, social services and fiscal resources required to support the aging. Baby Boomers will be the first wave of older adults to lead a fundamental shift in the demographic structure of the nation, altering the products and services catering to these aging Boomers. Significant changes are ahead in retailing, product offerings, and packaging solutions as well as the financial services, long-term healthcare and retirement options necessary to manage the Longevity Factor.