Key trends for Australian and New Zealand consumers in 2015, Mintel

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th October 2014
Key trends for Australian and New Zealand consumers in 2015, Mintel

Consumer rights, health and technology are among key consumer trends for Australia and New Zealand in 2015, according to Mintel’s Senior Trends & Innovation Consultant Jane Barnett.

Healthy appetite

People are becoming more informed about their health and are increasingly seeking out superfoods free from chemicals and additives, locally and seasonally sourced, according to Ms Barnett.

Ms Barnett said that the 2014 trend that saw health becoming increasingly important in Australia and New Zealand and consumers seeking out new ways to get healthier, was set to become even more important in 2015.

“Information and public health campaigns from governments about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise regime, along with personalities in mainstream and social media is creating sub groups of people subscribing to new lifestyles and diets — think Paleo, Vegan, Organic, Raw, Dukin and Atkins,” Ms Barnett said. “Every month or so there seems to be a ‘superfood’ to end all superfoods, and consumers are buying them in droves, leading to world shortages of foods including kale and quinoa,” she said.

Ms Barnett said that in 2015 consumers will increasingly seek out ‘natural’ options and local seasonal produce will only become more popular. According to Mintel’s findings, all natural product claims in new products have increased from 4 per cent to 8 per cent over the last 5 years.

“In the last 10 years, the Australian almond industry has grown from 10 000 tonnes to 78 000 tonnes in 2013, as Paleo and vegan consumers alike shun dairy and soy in favour of nut and seed milks,” Ms Barnett said. “Almond milk has experienced growth of 93 per cent and oat milk has risen 38 per cent. New grain milks including quinoa, coconut and blends of different nuts and seeds are also increasing in popularity,” she said.

According to Ms Barnett, the percentage of products with vegan and no animal ingredients claims have doubled, from 3 per cent in 2009 to 6 per cent in 2014. Conversely, vegetarian claims have increased at a similar rate, increasing from 4 per cent to 9 per cent in the last 5 years.

“Sourcing of food and drinks that consumers are increasingly demanding are leading to worldwide shortages,” Ms Barnett said. “Furthermore, consumers are less trusting of big business and need to be assured that they are not being misled about sourcing or processes,” she said.

“Consumers will be buying less packaged foods, will demand more organic produce for a reasonable price, and will move beyond the supermarkets and towards farmers markets and the like if they can’t get what they want,” Ms Barnett said. “Reduction of chemicals and additives is crucial, and the use of processes such as cold pressed and raw food will be more in demand,” she said.

Ms Barnett said detoxing, and in particular juice detoxes, had been increasing in popularity “off the back of numerous celebrities who advocate the fasts as a way to cleanse the body of impurities”. Vegan, raw food diets are becoming much more mainstream, and ‘wellness warriors’ preaching their lifestyle choices are gaining more momentum and notoriety.

“While the extreme lifestyles have of course attracted some criticism, they have also gained support, which they have capitalised on,” Ms Barnett said.

“Over the last few years, there has been increasing concern over the impact of sugar on human health, particularly when it comes to diabetes and related conditions,” Ms Barnett said.

“Quitting sugar is the latest popular fad around the world, and it is particularly strong in Australia. This trend is driving increased interest in natural sweeteners like stevia,” Ms Barnett said. “According to Mintel’s GNPD low/no/reduced sugar claims have also increased, from 6 per cent in 2009 to 8 per cent in 2014,” she said.

Ms Barnett said it was predicted that 2015 would see a continued “huge” interest in superfoods and more ‘alternative’ diets and lifestyles, but that the issue for food manufacturers and retailers would be sourcing.

“With quinoa and kale experiencing shortages, Australians will need to look elsewhere for their superfood benefits,” Ms Barnett said. “Predictions are that cauliflower, brussel sprouts and amaranth will become some of the most in-demand superfoods for 2015,” she said.

Fight for your rights

Growing awareness of customer rights and corporate misbehaviour will see consumers demand more fairness and justice from companies, with consumer input becoming almost integral, according to Ms Barnett.

“Consumer rights are back in the spotlight on the 800th anniversary of the first-ever citizen’s bill of rights, the Magna Carta,” Ms Barnett said.

“More recently, the ability to exercise one’s rights was on display in uprisings that caught the world’s attention – namely Brazilians’ fury at perceived government squandering of resources in the name of the World Cup and the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign regarding the kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria,” Mr Barnett said. “The decline of deference is set to escalate in the consumer space as customers are variously empowered and presented with provocative facts on corporate practice,” she said.

Ms Barnett said technology had transformed protests from organised marches to a bare-minimum of ‘clicktivism,’ or the ability to express one’s opinion, support or dislike through online petitions, viral video views and social media posts.

“Recently consumers have begun to see the power these viral revolts can have, indeed we’ve seen food and drink companies as large as PepsiCo, reformulate products based on blogger campaigns and online petitions,” Ms Barnett said.

Ms Barnett said consumers were exercising their rights at the cash register around the globe, purchasing only brands that align with their ideals on marriage equality, minimum wage and even political party affiliations.

“The consumer movement at hand finds consumers demanding openness from companies — more information, responsibility and accountability,” Ms Barnett said. “In the event that they do not feel that companies are forthcoming, they are willing to organise, even if it is just behind a hashtag. What’s changing is that consumers are no longer just enlivened by the ability to protest, they also are coming to expect that even social media campaigns will force their desired outcome,” she said.

According to Ms Barnett, Australians are coming together on “issues of importance”, with campaigning organisations like GetUp helping organise the wider community.

“Elsewhere, in the US, 18 per cent of 19-36 year olds go out of their way to buy from companies or brands that support LGBT while in Brazil some 77 per cent of carbonated soft drink consumers say they would pay more for an ethical soft drink brand,” Ms Barnett said.

“The need to be heard is rising, especially since being informed and active is no longer a requirement for protesting,” Ms Barnett said. “‘Clicktivism’ provides people with the feeling that they have the power to help get things done with minimal effort,” she said.

Ms Barnett said companies were facing real pressure from consumers who demand clarity on things like ingredients in food, treatment of workers and online terms and conditions.

“For those companies that are not proactive or are seen as insincere, we expect to see a continuation of protests against these real, and perceived, transgressions,” Ms Barnett said. “In 2015, companies globally will increasingly be forced to apologise, admit their mistakes and show a human face. To ignore the will (however fickle) of the people could foster a growth in boycotts,” she said.

E@sy Street: online shopping

The on-demand, instant gratification culture of the digital age is spreading to the established retail world, according to Ms Barnett.

“The internet has disrupted traditional approaches to shopping, setting up an expectation not just of convenience, but of immediacy,” Ms Barnett said. “There are over 24.4million active mobile phone subscriptions across Australia, which has led to a widespread uptake of mobile shopping. Some 30 per cent of all Australian internet users aged between 15 and 65 have purchased goods online with a smartphone and 19 per cent with a tablet, in the last 12 months,” she said.

Ms Barnett said Mintel was seeing brick-and-mortar retailers meld with the digital as more locations offered in-store pick-up for online orders. The ability to get hands-on with what was formerly only virtual could gain more customers for these e-commerce retailers.

“We’re also seeing services bridge the gap, for example in the UK, ASOS’s Local Letterbox eliminates the mystery of online shopping offering fitting rooms in supermarkets, gyms, transit stations and malls where people can try on online purchases,” Ms Barnett said.

“When it comes to click and collect, almost one-quarter of UK consumers would like the option of reserving online and collecting in-store, some 15 per cent would like to collect via a hub such as a shopping centre, 8 per cent would like to collect at a transport hub while 7 per cent would like to collect from a drive-through,” Ms Barnett said.

But while online sales continue to grow, the online experience offers a mixed response for some worldwide shoppers. Around half (53 per cent) of UK consumers and specifically 60 per cent of women, said they felt it was difficult to find clothing that fits well without trying it on. Ms Barnett said the need to see products in person remained high in China, as nearly seven in 10 Chinese adults said it was necessary to visit brick and mortar stores before buying products online.

“At the heart of this trend is that our on-demand, instant gratification culture is spreading,” Ms Barnett said. “This will bring us more delivery apps and high quality vending options across a variety of product categories. Accessibility of 3D printers could lead to consumers being able to print a product that solves a problem, shortening the design and delivery cycle even more,” she said.

Ms Barnett said these conveniences were not only for city-dwellers, as more models brought the benefits of modern life to suburban and rural residents.

However, the solution might have to be customised to the area, with in-store pick-up suited to suburbia and subscription services aligning with the needs of rural residents who might be far away from the nearest stocked store,” Ms Barnett said.

“Furthermore, this “at-your-convenience” expectation is likely to influence other customer service-based industries,” Ms Barnett said. “We predict that consumers will want to see more customised, on-demand access in banking, healthcare and other services. It won’t be enough to have Google and Wikipedia answer your 3am questions, people will expect to have an expert just a video call away,” she said.

Get smart: the development of smarter devices

The world of synced devices will move into the mainstream, as trusted companies move into the market and join the convenience-driven, data-collection revolution, according to Ms Barnett.

“Smart devices – from watches to ceiling fans – appeal to consumers because they save time and money, promise convenience, control, knowledge and self-analysis,” Ms Barnett said. “What’s changing is that this is no longer the domain of startups offering home hub hardware – the major players are now embracing the trend and raising consumer confidence in it,” she said.

While on a local level, Australian startup company Smash Wearables has launched a wearable product specifically for tennis enthusiasts, globally, Apple and Google are both introducing ecosystems to compete for leadership in the connected home. Retailers are also pushing synced devices, with Sears currently testing a connected device department in its stores, ahead of a planned expansion in 2015, according to Ms Barnett.

New software is also coming on to the market to make it easier for consumers to sync their mobile devices with their health monitoring tools and home appliances helped by the participation of Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit in its development, according to Ms Barnett.

“A host of new product launches in 2015 – from tablets, to smartwatches and smart TVs – will also pique consumer interest in syncing up,” Ms Barnett said. “But it’s important to consider that smart devices needn’t be about health or home economics – they can be about aesthetics and ambience as well. We’re also going to see iPhone ‘scent messaging’ devices, theoretically allowing consumers to remotely fragrance their homes or send odours as a form of communication,” she said.

Globally, smart devices have already been adopted by consumers to a degree, but the potential is far greater, according to Ms Barnett. Over one in five (21 per cent) UK adults already use either a wearable device or a health related mobile app, but as many as 40 per cent of UK consumers are interested in a device that tracks heart rate, blood pressure and movement. Meanwhile, over one in ten (13 per cent) Chinese consumers said that they have a wearable digital product in their household.

“Australians have rushed to show their interest in wearable technology, with a 2013 study finding that 35 per cent of those surveyed had already used some form of wearable technology,” Ms Barnett said.

“Wearable technology is coming to sporting grounds too, with the introduction into Australia of the Ref-Cam in 2014, a wearable mini-camera for referees being used in NRL,” Ms Barnett said. “The world’s biggest provider of GPS tracking devices for professional sportsmen and women operates out of a small factory in South Melbourne, Catapult Sports,” she said.