Mintel identifies five key European consumer trends for 2016

Looking ahead to 2016, Mintel’s Senior Trends Consultant Richard Cope discusses the five key European consumer trends set to impact the market, including implications for both consumers and brands in the year ahead.

On the Waterfront
Shortages will make water an increasingly precious and politically charged commodity, encouraging innovation in sourcing, recycling and manufacturing.

“In 2016 we will feel the agricultural fallout from an extreme period of global drought, encompassing areas as diverse as California, Alberta, Brazil and Thailand. European suffering might not amount to much more than a shortage of certain foodstuffs from drought hit areas elsewhere, but innovations and corporate social responsibility practices in water sourcing, recycling and conservation are going to come to the fore in the European market.”
“Consumers are alive to the need of water conservation for their own needs and will warm to brands that can help achieve this at a personal and public level. In the household sector consumers are keen to conserve, with Mintel research highlighting that a significant proportion of Spanish (81%), French (74%) and German (68%) consumers are interested in an ultra-concentrated washing up liquid. What’s more, across Europe, consumers are open to fewer water dependent and indeed waterless products in beauty and personal care. Two in five (38%) UK consumers and 33% of Italians say they’d be interested in double concentrated bath or shower products and 33% of French 16-24s expressing interest in dry use soap, bath and shower products.”
“The obvious impact of water shortage on agriculture is lowered production, job losses and shortages – and higher prices – in wine, beef and rice. As a result, we’ll certainly see more concentrates in coffee, other beverages, seasonings and water-sourcing product alternatives.”
“Some companies will work to make water recycling, restoration and research part of their corporate social responsibility programme. Household brands can embrace technological innovation to work with their customers. It may be that water efficiency gets flagged up on consumer packaged goods in the same way that it is for white goods. We might even see a bottled water tax at some outlets, taking inspiration from the carbonated drinks levy imposed by Jamie Oliver at his restaurants, with 52% of Italian and 49% of French consumers already voicing concern about the environmental impact of drinking bottled water. In cuisine, we’re presented with a classic ‘Accentuate the Negative’ scenario where shortages justify more adventurous and affordable forays into alternatives like cactus, insects and saltwater brews. While in the beauty sector we’ll see more interest – and innovation – in face, body and teeth cleansing wipes and dry body washes and shampoos, as well as greater use of freeze-dried botanical powders, plant waters and botanical oils as water alternatives.”

Space-Time Continuum
Space and time are at a premium, becoming new currencies in their own right and creating new marketplaces.

“More people are renting or sharing homes with family members, creating space-pressed culture of transience and ‘non-ownership’. Eurostat data has shown owner-occupation levels falling across Europe to an average of 70% and household space is also being squeezed by significant proportions of 25-34s (37% in Spain; 47% in Italy) living at home with their parents. It’s no wonder that it’s this group who are creating the sharing economy solutions that seek to maximise the usage and availability of space for storage, parking, working and sleeping.”

My Mind’s Eye
Virtual and augmented reality technologies enter our homes and businesses to entertain, trial and train.

“A host of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headset launches will see consumers enter immersive gamescapes and layer entertainment or educational content over their normal field of vision. Facebook’s Oculus Rift is expected to go on sale early 2016, but beyond immersive in-home gaming the possibilities of virtually exploring locations present a host of opportunities to ‘test drive’ products or locations. In the augmented reality sphere, products such as Microsoft Hololens will integrate holographic images into the real world. This approach is already being embraced by retailers as a means of showing customers just how their wares would look in their homes.”
“Mintel research highlights strong potential, with as many as half (50%) of UK consumers already aware of virtual reality headsets and 31% expressing an interest in using them – a figure which rises to 53% of 16-24 year olds. Demand goes beyond usage to ownership, as today, some 11% of UK consumers say they are interested in buying a head mounted display.”

Pond Filter
Fears surrounding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will cause consumers and brands to react by favouring purer and more natural products.

“The TTIP is the proposed free trade agreement between Europe and the US, with the avowed aim of making it easier and fairer to export, import and invest overseas. Its opponents believe that by reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, the treaty will weaken food safety law and environmental legislation, potentially flooding the market with genetically-modified processed foods, untested beauty products and produce treated with pesticides and growth hormones.  For some consumers, this will trigger a reaction where they opt to go local, go natural or go DIY instead.”
“Ahead of this, Mintel research shows consumers are already striving for an all-natural lifestyle.   Across Europe opposition to GMO food is already strong, with 36% of German and 35% of Italian consumers saying they would never buy it. As is an appreciation of organics because they do not use pesticides, with 50% of French and 46% of German consumers agreeing that organic fruit and vegetables are safer because they do not contain pesticides. It is our belief that these attitudes will harden across Europe, should consumers be faced with the spectre of more modified and chemically treated produce and products.”

Beacons can flourish in retail and leisure by making consumers feel in-the-know and ahead of the game.

“Beacons are here and they are set to become more embedded in our society, thanks to Google’s Eddystone extending the technology to Android phones and also those without official retailer’s apps. These short-range location devices typically interact with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In retail, beacons can welcome people to stores, inform them of offers, remind them of items they need to buy, or have put on a wish list. Stores are able to track customer hotspots and dwell time and measure the effectiveness of promotional campaigns and store layouts. They can also provide more detailed information for loyalty apps. Beacons have the power to bring destinations alive, especially in The Netherlands, where the entire village of Grou has been connected with 100 beacons. Meanwhile, Exterion Media is trialling beacon technology on 500 London buses to send passengers location-relevant marketing alerts.”


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