There’s nothing as sure as change and, in 2018, consumer behaviour is continuing to shift. From ‘woke’ millennials to digitally native Gen Z, people are wisening up, becoming more tech-focused, gender-conscious, brand-agnostic and socially aware. So how can brands ensure they’re as receptive to change as their target audience? Here, we unpack some key factors swaying today’s purchase decisions.
Challenging beauty ideals
Blame Instagram influencers or the rise of photo editing apps and face-altering Snapchat filters, but it’s now never been easier to fall into a trap of insecurity as a teenager. Cases of youth anxiety and depression are on the rise, with societal pressures to be ‘flawless’ arguably not helping already image-conscious teens. Brands are wisening up to this, so we should expect to see a backlash against unrealistic beauty ideals throughout 2018. ASOS and Missguided have recently been lauded for not photoshopping out models’ stretch marks, and the latter unveiled a diverse range of mannequins back in November, with models of different ethnicities proudly featuring stretch marks and vitiligo. Over in the cosmetics world, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line was included in Time Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017 due to its diverse offering of 40 foundation shades. “It was important that every woman felt included,” said the singer turned beauty guru.
The future of gender is fluid
Attitudes towards sexual segmentation and outdated stereotypes have slowly been shifting recently, with brands moving towards a more gender-fluid future in order to appeal to their open-minded customers. Cosmetics giants such as Rimmel, Covergirl and Maybelline have made men the faces of their ad campaigns. The transgender community has been given more exposure on TV and film screens, catwalks, and – perhaps most importantly – our Instagram feeds. Blurring gender boundaries is increasingly common within the fashion sector, too; high street brands like Zara and H&M are creating unisex collections, and high fashion names, from Burberry to JW Anderson, have sent both men’s and women’s styles down the catwalk at the same time.
Wellness has been at the forefront of our minds since 2016, with much of its focus directed towards the business of ‘clean’ eating. While veganism and vegetarianism are continuing to rise, it’s possible that consumers will develop a more open-minded approach to living well in 2018. Given the backlash against the clean eating movement in 2017, could the year ahead be more about balance? Many fitness bloggers and influencers are now choosing to be more honest about their eating and exercise habits, perhaps because people are becoming more attuned to the idea that Instagram is a highlights reel, rather than a true reflection of reality. For women, working out and eating well is becoming more about looking strong than looking skinny. Faddy diets – those marketed for weight loss, at least – also seems to be on the out, with Weight Watchers announcing this month that it will be switching its focus from weight loss to wellness in the future, purporting that “healthy is the new skinny.”
2017 was the year of fake news. The public’s distrust in politics and the media is now rubbing off on companies – and, thanks to social media, it’s now easier than ever for consumers to call out brands publicly. From Reformation and Everlane to The Ordinary and Lush, many brands are currently proving that it’s easier to win over the modern-day shopper if you’re willing to be honest with them about what’s in your products, where they were made, and how much they cost to produce. As well as being increasingly concerned by sustainability, many consumers want brands to voice their opinions on deeper issues, such as politics; in our politically charged times, it can seem jarring when brands choose to stay neutral on such matters. In the aftermath of the recent shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida, Gucci has joined the anti-gun movement, donating $500,000 to March for our Lives, the organisation behind this month’s rally for legislative reform on gun ownership in the US. “Neutrality on political issues was once the norm, but millennial spending power and political polarisation mean it’s now riskier to be neutral than to take a stance,” the Business of Fashion summarised.
Louise Troen, International Brand Director of Bumble, is joined by Hayley Ard, Head of Consumer Lifestyle at Stylus to discuss the evolution of the consumer at Stylus presents Decoded Future, on 26th June at Tobacco Dock in London - book your ticket here.
Image Source: Pop Sugar