Future Consumers – dramatic shift in values and priorities underway

Long-term consumption is changing away from a ‘disposable society’ to more sustainable, trust and conversation-based, income constrained buying behaviours. High growth is increasingly coming from emerging markets and potentially from the rise of new technologies such as wearables and social technologies.
What is changing?


  • Consumers will buy $1.4 trillion worth of goods and services in 2020.
  • A disproportionate share of global growth of consumer spending will take place in emerging markets.
  • A fundamental change in the structure of the global economy will likely shift the manner in which retailers and brands obtain growth.
  • Almost two-thirds of the growth in demand for fast-moving consumer goods will come from smaller (Tier-three and Tier-four) cities.
  • Countries such as China will shift away from export-oriented growth towardgrowth driven by domestic consumer spending.
  • The United Nations predicts that there could be about an extra 3 billion people to feed by the end of the century and growing pressure on the resources needed to produce food.
  • Generation X and Y consumers will take the lead by 2020.


  • It is highly likely thatconsumer in the next decade will live more sustainably whether they want to or not.
  • Much will depend on how fast a majority of the emerging middle class moves to sustainable consumption patterns and away from a “disposable society” mentality.
  • There will also be growing consumer interest in the sourcing of food.
  • 3.9 billion of the world’s population will live in areas of high-water stress.

Consumer demand

  • Rising consumer expectations will require even food and beverage players to raise their game on freshness and regulatory compliance.
  • Media agencies will be moving from being media-facing to consumer facing.
  • Consumer spending will be constrained by income.
  • Consumers will feel the necessity to rebuild wealth by saving.
  • Brands not delivering on trust issues will face becoming obsolete.
  • There will likely be less credit available for consumers.

Technology use

  • Acceleration in the scope, scale, and economic impact of technology will usher in a new age of artificial intelligence, consumer gadgetry, instant communication, and boundless information while shaking up business in unimaginable ways.
  • Nearly two-thirds of consumers plan to buy an in-home device in the next five years and wearable technology ownership will double by 2015-increasing from 7 percent in 2014 to 14 percent by 2015.
  • Wearable electronics could create a revolution in consumer lifestyles.
  • Companies such as Apple that create a health ecosystem that integrates with the traditional healthcare system will generate more value for consumers.
  • Savvy consumer businesses will mimic online models by lowering the retail price of their sensor-embedded products in order to build up a devoted network of users.  
  • Consumer and regulatory pressures will require companies to reduce wasteand put in place new manufacturing and production practices.
  • Loyalty Consumer businesses will not be able to depend on older more loyal consumers for long.
  • Engaging consumers will no longer just be about marketing and communicating to them but will be about connecting and socializing with them.
  • Many consumer businesses will shift development priorities overseas to take advantage of the rapid and significant growth of the emerging market middle class.
  • Loyalty Consumer businesses will not be able to depend on older more loyal consumers for long.
  • Many consumers will have to be more cautious and selective in what they buy.
  • Europe’s exporting giants will either have to find new export markets (such as China and India) or will have to shift gears and stimulate domestic demand.
  • Policymakers will be increasingly called upon to take the lead and adopt measures that promote sustainability while respecting consumer demand for goods and services among the key drivers of economic activity.
  • There will also be growing consumer interest in the sourcing of food.
  • A far broader and more informed consumer base around the world will place greater tension on the base commodities needed to support rising consumer expectations.
  • In this marketconsumer biases and information problems could be facilitating competition not working well for consumers.
  • Businesses will need to take a much more active role in shaping the conversation with consumers.

Learn more

Explore Shaping Tomorrow to find the sources and more resources on the Future of Consumer, some of which were used in this Trend Alert.
Shaping Tomorrow can help your organization rapidly expand on, assess and respond to these and other key issues affecting your business through detailed briefings (e.g. Future of Regulations). Please contact us to discuss specific needs.


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