At Fi Europe 2023’s Innovation Hub in Frankfurt, Elizabeth Thundow, consulting vice president at Kline, discussed the evolving world of consumer trends. Drawing insights from Kline's market research, Thundow focuses on three essential consumer archetypes—influence, immediate, and informed - each contributing uniquely to the consumer landscape.
Understanding the three consumer types: 'Influence consumers'
Thundow first turned to the “influence consumers”, predominantly represented by Gen Z and the emerging Gen Alpha, a demographic that is expanding notably in the Middle East, China, India, and certain African countries while shrinking in the developed world. Thundow emphasised that this group, set to constitute over 40% of the global population by 2030, possesses distinct characteristics moulded by the digital age. She said: "They've been digitally connected their whole lives,” demanding a paradigm shift in product development.
Notably health-conscious, with a preference for low sugar, budget constraints, and a nostalgic taste, this group sets itself apart from preceding generations.
As Gen Z and Gen Alpha grow in emerging economies, a departure from the norms set by baby boomers and millennials emerges. The digital realm takes centre stage in the lives of so-called influence consumers. Thundow pointed to statistics predicting a surge in social media usage, with platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok leading the charge.
"Around 60% of the population, five billion people, are expected to be using social media by 2030,” said Thundow.
This, combined with the growing prominence of augmented reality and virtual reality in current trends, signals a future dominated by immersive experiences.
The second consumer type: 'Immediate Consumers'
“Immediate consumers”, conditioned by an 'on-demand' ethos, blur traditional lines between physical and online retail. Thundow discussed the impact of autonomous systems on product delivery, citing their integration into urban environments. She said: "Consumers want to hold their purchases on the same day,”, a shift that is reshaping purchasing priorities.
The influence and immediate consumers, though distinct, share a common thread - digital technologies shape their experiences. Thundow forecasted that the increasing emphasis on experience in consumers’ purchasing journeys would propel augmented reality, virtual reality, and the metaverse into pivotal roles.
The third consumer archetype: 'Informed Consumers'
In the domain of “informed consumers”, Thundow underscored the important role of technology in fostering transparency, she said: “It's all about ensuring the safety of our food systems, and traceability of ingredients.” QR codes, blockchain, and personal health trackers empower consumers with detailed insights into the products they choose.
The informed consumer is also intricately entwined with the sustainability narrative. Thundow presented data on consumer preferences, indicating a growing inclination towards natural, ethical, and transparent products. She explained that decarbonisation is becoming a focal point, with consumers actively seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint through dietary changes.
Shaping tomorrow’s marketplace
As the consumer landscape shifts, key questions remain. How can companies tailor their strategies to recognise and respond to evolving consumer preferences? Thundow prompted the industry to delve deeper. She said: "Recognise your future consumer, […] monitor those changing preferences [and] integrate these insights into R&D practice.”
Thundow concluded her presentation with three important considerations for the future: “What are you producing, how are you producing it, and how are you engaging with your consumers?”
Main image: © Informa Markets