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CHICAGO -- As 2014 begins, there are four key trends consumer brands should be targeting if they want to win the shopper dollar this year, according to research company Mintel.
Mintel's consumer trends analysts Jennifer Zegler and Stacy Glasgow outlined these trends set to impact the American consumer market, examining the areas of commercial opportunity for brands -- and what consumers will be buying into this year. The key trends center around internationalism, streamlining, digital and investment.
Internationalism on the agenda
"In 2013, the world's attention was rapt with the arrival of the U.K.'s royal baby. Later in the year, people around the world mourned the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Whether to share joy or to remember, the global community has become close-knit," Zegler said. "Connections are heightened by the immediacy provided by technology; each day, people are using social media and other innovations to eliminate the barriers and the boundaries formerly presented by geography."
"In a time when smart watches and Google Glass mean people can access apps without so much as touching a smartphone, the demand for instant gratification will continue to drive consumers in 2014," Glasgow noted. "We see a perpetuated cycle where consumers want faster solutions to their problems, resulting in technology that answers those problems -- only to lead to a demand for even faster solutions. In the coming year, wearable and more accessible technology will provide consumers with solutions to problems they weren't even aware of having."
Drawing the digital line
"In reaction to concerns resulting from hyper-connectivity, in 2014 consumers will become exceedingly cognizant of the need to unplug, to simplify, and to reconnect with the world around them," Glasgow said. "As America sees increased discussion around the value and usability of wearable and ubiquitous technology, we will in tandem see increased discussion around data privacy. And as digitalization becomes even more pervasive, it will foster a growing culture of impatience, over-sharing and of privacy concerns -- leading to a demand for more of a balance between living online and 'real world' experiences."
Investing in prevention
"Skittish Americans have adopted an ongoing emotional state of 'prepar-nation,' in which they are focused on anticipating and preparing for both the major and the minor events that could interrupt their status quo," Zegler explained. "Most people have not forgotten the 2008 global financial crisis, causing them to be more mindful of the state of their finances, with 72 percent of U.S. adults claiming 'I don't like the idea of being in debt.' Likewise, half of adults say making sure they do not fall behind on bills or other financial commitments is very important to them in the coming year. Indeed, the country's debt ceiling crisis in October 2013, which caused a 16-day partial government shutdown, reminded Americans of the frailty of the economy."
To find out more about Mintel's 2014 U.S. consumer trends and download a free copy of the trends in full, click here.