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FEATURE3 June 2015

Age is not an issue


At yesterday’s London Trend Seminar 2015 organised by insights and trend consultancy Trendwatching, Henry Mason, its managing director, identified macro trends for all marketers and insight professionals to consider.

Post-demographic consumerism

Mason argued that traditional segments such as age, gender and income are no longer pertinent. People are constructing lifestyles in the way they want to and there are four key drivers to this:

  • Access – people have the same access to global brands and many have used that as a point of positioning e.g  Apple, Uniqlo and Facebook.
  • Permission – people have permission to live their own life; in urban areas there is a shift to be more socially liberal as seen with the rise in inter-racial marriages and the recent Ireland vote for gay marriage.
  • Ability – abundant choice and falling cost mean not only are people allowed to do things but they can do them.
  • Desire – status is less about what you have but who you are and what you do.  And a high status lifestyle becomes more democratic as the sharing economy grows; it’s often about renting/hiring items rather than owning them.

Status is less about what you have and more about who you are and what you do

“It’s time to end the demographic clichés. Younger people are usually the earliest adopters but little remains the preserve of a single demographic for long,” said Mason. For instance a report from collaborative economy organisation, Crowd Companies, found that while 48% of neo-sharers were 18- to 34-year olds, 33% were 35- to 54-year-olds and almost one in five ( 19%) were 55+.

Expectation Economy

With an ever-accelerating customer economy, expectations increase. “It’s hedonic adaptation, we become accustomed to what we have,” said Mason. The drivers within this trend are:

  • Creative destruction – as seen with the rise of something like WhatsApp over SMS
  • Trust – if the brand or service isn’t good it’s going to die, but people do trust brands and are flocking to start-ups.
  • Awareness = tension – people often feel that brands do not contribute meaningfully to their lives
  • Experience cramming – we want to get as much as we can from our experiences.

Mason pointed to how this trend manifests itself in a number of ways from self-actualisation to social actualisation.

And in particular we see the rise of guilt-free consumption with brands designed to give shoppers the things they want but with a clear conscience. He cited a number of brands falling into this trend: premium electronic car brand Tesla; Treeson spring water, an eco-friendly water in recyclable bottles which can be mailed back to the manufacturer; Sustain Condoms which are Fairtrade; and Bionic Yarn, a fibre made from recycled plastic and used by G-Star for one of its RAW jeans ranges.  



4 years ago

It was a great event and interesting to see others are championing the idea of the end of traditional demographic models. Of course, that's easier said than done when trying to bed that in to business strategy, but we are increasingly seeing intergenerational/upward influence breaking down traditional demographic barriers. We interviewed some of the speakers at the Trendwatching event and will be posting films soon on Post Demographic Consumerism and Guilt Free Consumption, so keep an eye on the Firefish / Trendwatching feeds

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4 years ago

Thoroughly agree! The changing social make-up and sliding boundaries of Western society mean that traditional methods of pigeon-holing consumers are no longer valid. As such, we need to think carefully about how we choose and define the attitudes and behaviours which form alternate dimensions.

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