Nine Trends to Drive Innovation Strategy in 2019

If you are tasked with plotting your business’ long-term strategy or innovating the portfolio beyond 2020, you need to have your finger on the pulse of emerging and evolving consumer trends.

Every year we analyse dozens of trend forecasts to identify those that we feel will be the most inspiring when it comes to planning strategy or generating innovation ideas.

The nine trends we’ve curated for 2019 have implications for business strategy, claims optimisation, brand renovation, new product development and service innovation.

We’re sure you’ll find them enlightening and inspiring … but don’t just read ’em and move on.

Give us a call to see how we can help you turn them into fuel for your strategy and innovation processes!

Conspicuously Frugal Living

Not so long ago, conspicuous consumption was perceived to be good – but not any more

The growth of discount supermarket chains like Aldi and Lidl – and their rapid rise in popularity amongst the middle classes is just one demonstration of the new status symbol – Conspicuous Frugality.

It’s not the pressure of poverty, but a conscious choice to own fewer, better, longer-lasting ‘things’.

It’s hard to tell if it’s a response to the economic cycle or anticipation of Brexit, but we’re seeing a rapid increase in conscious consumerism.  Consumers looking for lifetime-value rather than the latest, flashiest, cheapest or even most fashionable thing!

If you want a great example; look no further than Patagonia’s Worn Wear programme

Implication:  How can you design propositions, products and storytelling to reinforce your brand’s lifetime value?

GenZ Comes of Age

Generation Z, the cohort born after 1997, are increasingly taking the place of Millennials as marketers’ most promising target.

Unsurprisingly, these digital natives are leading the charge towards new forms of brand-consumer relationships that are based on Instagram-ability, YouTube-driven fun and social-ethical consciousness

A host of Gen Z influencers, rejecting the conventions of the beauty industry, are taking to Instagram with makeup-free selfies and exhortations to ‘celebrate your pimples’ – but at the same time are happy to embrace long-established food brands like Doritos, Oreos, Hershey and M&Ms

They key seems to be the willingness and ability of brands to use social media to embrace the reality of being young!

Implications:  How can you harness innovation, digital storytelling and celebrity to maximise relevance?

Plant-Based Vegolution

Over 33% of the UK population now identify as being vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian. So, after years on the fringes, meat-free foods are moving mainstream

There’ve been some huge developments recently with Danone consolidating their ownership of WhiteWave, Unilever buying Vegetarian Butcher and  Impossible gaining traction with their bleeding-burgers

But where to next?  With 55% of consumers motivated by animal welfare, 45% by a desire to be healthier and 38% by environmental factors the next challenge will be to reconcile some complex needs.

Some meat avoiders will be happy with lab-grown protein, but others will be looking for clean labels and kitchen-style ingredients – so where next for the Vegolution?

Implications:  How fast can you segment the market and optimise offerings – before dissonance sets in?

Armchair Enviro-Activism

Thanks to Attenborough’s Blue Planet, consumers are being forced to confront their environmental impact

Over the last year, the social-media backlash against straws, coffee cups and one-use plastic bottles has been huge

However, when it comes to personal responsibility for recycling, consumers are a lot less committed.  Many admit to doing little more than the basic minimum – whilst others have become frustrated when they discover that drinks cartons, babyfood pouches, Christmas wrapping paper and crisp bags all end up in landfill!

It’s great to see big corporate like Walkers and Ella’s making an effort – but it’s hard to see most consumers making the effort!

60% of Millennials say they’d pay extra for genuinely eco-friendly products – so there’s little doubt that businesses like Coke and Evian are right to pursue more sustainable solutions – and take the challenge out of consumers’ hands

Implications:  What are you going to do to demonstrate your genuine commitment to saving the planet?

Measurable Wellbeing

Wellbeing has been one of our key themes for the last few years, but we’ve observed some important changes recently.

Wellbeing used to mean a vague sense of making better and more body-positive choices, but the spectacular failure of some significant wellbeing initiatives like Goodness Knows, has left some commentators questioning whether we’ve reached ‘peak wellbeing’.  We don’t think so!

Investments by Nestlé in DNA-nutrition based diets, the emergence of tracking apps like Pinto and wearables suggest a subtle change of emphasis towards more structured, target-driven wellness solutions.

By starting with what consumers need to achieve, leveraging EFSA claims, then tracking measurable improvements – wellness becomes credible!

Implication:  How can you align consumer needs, product benefits and tracking technology to create wellness solutions

Ascendancy of Voice Search

Move over Google keypad-search, voice is taking over!  We flagged the importance of voice last year, but even we didn’t anticipate the speed and size of the impact

Smart speakers like Alexa have become part of daily life in many homes, bringing dramatic changes to consumer behaviour.  Surprisingly, one of the greatest over-indexes for voice search is amongst the over 65s!

CES 2019 gives us an enticing insight into the future of voice commands and search which is increasingly being built into smart TVs, cars and even toilets and taps/faucets!

But one of the most intriguing challenges is what’s going to happen when consumers go beyond digital search and voice commands, to the point where they expect to interact ‘live’ with your brand.  What does it sound like?  How does it speak? Can it distinguish between a chat in the living room and a request whilst driving?

Implication:  How will your brand’s web-presence adapt when it needs to develop a unique and memorable ‘voice’?

Sober Curiosity

UK Office of National Statistics data suggests that Teetotalism is on the rise with 21% claiming not to drink at all and 50% of the population claiming to drink less than they previously did

Millennials have begun to introduce a new cultural view of Teetotalism, as they are increasingly consuming non-inebriating beverages and differently-inebriating substances.

Trendy Teetotalism is prompting the rapid development of some sophisticated alcohol-free alternatives.

Seedlip is pretty well known, but emerging brands like Napa Hills and O.Vine are creating sophisticated, non-alcoholic, grape-skin infused waters that are virtually sugar and calorie free.

The challenge is that lots of these solutions are also ‘buzz-free’, lacking the satisfying uplift that moderate alcohol consumption delivers.   This maybe why brands like AB Inbev and Coca-Cola are rumoured to be looking at beverages including infusions of legal cannabis extracts.

Implication:  How can non-alcoholic beverages deliver feelgood for teetotallers?

Go On Retailer, Engage Me!

In the old retail model the power was with the retailer.

Retailers decided what to offer and consumers just had to come fetch it.  In the new retail world, bricks & mortar looks inefficient relative to the infinite choice offered by the internet

The last year has seen bricks & mortar retail start to fight back.

Brands like Sephora have rethought their stores to blend traditional elements, with mobile apps and experiential activities, that bring theatre to the retail brand experience – and build desire before  purchase

The other huge future-retailing experiment has been the launch of the Nike House of Innovation in NYC. The store aims to be as personal and responsive as digital. It features a customisation area, personalisation area and speed shopping facilities

But most interesting is the emphasis that both Sephora and Nike are placing on loyalty, Sephora offering its members-only social platforms and Nike Live members-only stores

Implication:  How do you enhance the tactile experience of shopping

Personalised Banking, Just for Me

Banks are increasingly targeting demographic-based clusters like GenZ, Millennials and Boomers, but this mass-segmentation strategy is failing.  71% of millennials would rather visit a dentist than their bank!

Given the rich data on lifestyle and purchasing that banks already hold, plus the data that could be gathered on their customers’ values, aspirations and mindsets, this failure to build relevance and strong relationship bonds is missing a massive product innovation and communication opportunity

Consumer expectations of personalisation are increasingly being driven by non-financial services suppliers.  If Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix and Apple can serve up an individually personalised experience – why can’t my bank?

Because of consumer inertia, it may be that mainstream banks feel they have no need to raise their game.  But we suspect that 2019 is going to see a race, driven by new-generation fintechs, towards greater individualisation of product-offering and communication – to create truly personalised banking experiences

Implications:  How can banks deliver a more personalised experience?

Turning trends into the fuel of innovation …

If you are mapping out your strategic challenges, planning your innovation platforms, or even ready to start ideation – we can help you turn trends into the essential creative fuel you need to stimulate disruption and inspiration

So, if your objectives for 2019 include innovation or brand renovation … we should talk!

Discover the power of Trend-Activation Workshops

We've got a proven track-record of unleashing the creative power of trends

If you’d like to explore how we could use our powerful Trend Activation Workshops help you unlock the full power of these trends, your own trends bank, or even a specially curated bank of trends to reflect your own industry, please do get in touch, give us a call on +44 1491 411272, or connect with David or Joanna via LinkedIn

We custom-build solutions for each and every client – but we find that Trend Activation Workshops deliver brilliant results!

If you’d like more information about trend-powered or insight-powered projects we have completed for our clients – check them out here