Consumer trends can sometimes seem limited to specific industries, but are often tied to larger societal changes. In assessing the evolving landscapes trend, manufacturers must look to understand the broad socio-economic and socio-demographic changes that are causing alterations in consumer behaviours and attitudes. From ageing populations to marrying later in life, consumers are changing their behaviour in ways that can deeply affect the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. As consumers change, brands must adapt and be able to understand the motivations behind the broader changes and how they are trickling down to their specific industry sectors. 

In the October 2018 report from GlobalData, TrendSights Overview: Evolving Landscapes - Exploring the impact the Evolving Landscapes mega-trend has on innovation across the FMCG space, GlobalData analysts examine the factors influencing changing consumer behaviours and attitudes, as well as suggesting how brands can best adapt to these changes. Drawing from research detailed in the report, we explore these adaptations and the lessons to be learnt as brands look to cope with the evolving landscapes of consumer behaviour. 

View GlobalData Reports

TrendSights Overview: Evolving Landscapes - Exploring the impact the Evolving Landscapes mega-trend has on innovation across the FMCG space

Evolution 101: urbanisation, ageing populations and millennial demands

The report highlights two primary drivers behind this mega-trend: socio-demographic changes (and the need for products and brands to change to fit new lifestyles) and urbanisation (the ever-increasing growth of cities and focusing of jobs in cities provides new challenges for brands to adapt to urbanised needs). In terms of consumers of note, millennials and their perhaps uniquely transformative brand of consumerism are highlighted, as are older generations; the latter is perhaps overly-broad but refers specifically to the transitioning needs and demands of ageing populations as life spans continue to increase. 

The GlobalData 2016 Q3 global consumer survey found that 69% of consumers believe increased wealth or income is important in creating a feeling of wellbeing or wellness; 75% enjoy experimenting with products from different cultures or countries; and 31% somewhat or completely disagree that they feel pressure to conform to traditional cultural and societal norms. While the last statistic should be noted for future reference, it is currently far from the significance of the first two. The conclusion to be drawn is that brands must consider their consumers to be increasingly concerned with a certain premium quality in their lives and products, as well as looking to diversify their consumer experience to be more multi-cultural.

Further innovation implications that arise from the report’s analysis are the increasingly individualistic approach that consumers take to their product choices and the rise of a sharing economy driven by mobile and online platforms. Brands have a great opportunity to capitalise on a demand for customisable and personalised products (particularly in conjunction with the trend towards premiumisation), but need to consider what the sharing economy means for them. With individuals now able to advertise, sell and purchase products previously only provided by businesses, manufacturers must consider their position in this shifting economy. 

Generation gap: millennials lead the trend but personal care’s popularity crosses generations

Perhaps predictably, millennials (defined in the report as those born between 1981 and 1999) are the most prominent generation for the evolving landscapes mega-trend. The GlobalData 2016 Q3 global consumer survey asked consumers by generation whether they were often or always influenced by how the world around them is changing (e.g. economic, social, demographic changes in society) in their product choices in the food, non-alcoholic drinks, alcoholic drinks, personal care and household care sectors. In that survey, 40%, 41%, 40%, 47%, and 45% of millennials responded in the affirmative, respectively. Two years later, in the 2018 Q3 global consumer survey, those numbers rose to 45%, 45%, 44%, 50%, and 50%. 

By comparison, the iGeneration (or Generation Z, born in 2000 or later) fall fairly close to millennials’ 2016 numbers and may be expected to rise given the relative youth of the generation, while Generation X (born 1966–1980) has seen the influence of these global changes decline since 2016 (when they were fairly similar to millennials). The same has occurred amongst boomers (1946–1995) and the Silent Generation (1925–1945). The numbers amongst both boomers and the Silent Generation were low in 2016 (although it should be noted that in both groups, 39% of those surveyed say they were influenced by the aforementioned changes when it came to personal care) but have dropped even further since, dramatically so amongst the Silent Generation. 

Most prominent among the product categories, regardless of generation, was personal care (although household care was not far behind). We can surmise therefore that, not unreasonably, consumers as a whole seek products that are more personalised to their individual needs when those products address more intimate needs. While seeking personalisation in products such as their alcohol of choice may turn out to be a momentary trend, consumers are likely to always seek greater individuation in products such as personal care. 

Regional results: Latin America remains dominant despite dip in susceptibility

The personal care sector also plays a prominent role in the trend when analysing consumers who are often or always influenced by region, most notably in Latin America (57% of consumers in the 2018 Q3 survey), Europe (36%), and North America (31%). However, in both North America and Latin America, the household care sector found equal influence to personal care and, in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Africa (49% in both), was actually more influenced by the evolving landscapes trend than the personal care sector. While the food and drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) sectors fare poorly in North America and Europe, the trend found far greater influence for these sectors in the other regions (although in no regions were food and drinks more influenced than personal or household care products). 

Brands should pay particular attention to Latin America given its particular susceptibility to the trend (the least influenced sector, alcoholic drinks, still had 48% of consumers say they were often or always influenced when buying these products), but it should also be noted that the region was found less influenced by the evolving landscapes trend in 2018 than 2016. Given its high numbers in 2016 (the least influenced sector still found 52% of consumers buying according to the trend), it is possible that it’s too much to expect continued high levels of growth for the trend. However, it should be borne in mind that Latin America is a big market but perhaps one that is stabilising rather than growing. 

Instead, Asia-Pacific is the region to look to. As the only region to see the evolving landscapes trend gain influence in all sectors, it should be considered the biggest opportunity for brands looking to engage with the trend. Given fast-rising urbanisation in the region, particularly in countries such as Japan and China, and a certain increase in Western influence on consumer culture, the evolving landscapes trend is of particular importance within Asia-Pacific. However, one note of caution: while opportunities abound for growth in the region, the GlobalData 2017 Q1 consumer survey also found that 67% of Asian consumers claim they are very or extremely concerned about their financial situation. Though the region holds a lot of promise, brands should be careful not to overcommit. 

Share this article