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Mintel Maps Out Consumer Trends for 2009

Posted: December 30, 2008

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Today’s consumers have high standards and will demand value for money, as well as consistently high levels of quality, safety and service. Crumbling economic markets, food scares and toy safety problems have fueled an era of doubt and insecurity. And so in the coming year, people will seek out trusting, open relationships wherever they can. People will want to know all about the products they buy, from where they were sourced to how they were manufactured. Because of this, people will cling to the long-standing, nostalgic brands they know and love, looking for products with a real sense of familiarity.

What it means for businesses: For many companies, especially those in the finance sector, the road to rebuilding trust with consumers will be long and difficult. But it will be a priority. Manufacturers will need to back up their words with actions and conduct business in a more open, honest way. Reassuring consumers that they are acting in the customers’ best interest will become a primary concern for businesses. Also, as companies see shoppers sticking to already-familiar products, long-standing brands will move into new markets to exploit their position as trustworthy companies.

4. Trading down (but a little trading up too)

As purse strings tighten, consumers will look for every possible way to make their pennies stretch further. For example, people will trade down to cheaper store brands, eat out less or simply choose not to update their wardrobes. But everyone will still crave a little treat now and again. The result? Shoppers will mostly trade down to budget-friendly solutions to save money. But occasionally, they will also need to indulge in small, affordable luxuries, like premium chocolate, designer sunglasses or a favorite moisturizer.

What it means for businesses: As consumers split between the low and high end of the market, manufacturers will invariably follow suit. Many companies will start to focus on value brands, but there will still be room for products that bring a little luxury to the everyday. “The middle market will increasingly be squeezed and is going to have to prove its worth when faced with competition from newly improved basic lines,” states Holleran. Beyond this, many companies will position their products as a more affordable alternative to going out. For example, expect premium ready meals that give a restaurant experience at home or beauty products that bring a spa-like feel to the bathroom.