Nine Innovation Trends For a New Decade

If you are tasked with generating a pipeline of relevant and differentiated new-product concepts that will drive your business success in Horizon Two and Three – there is no point in just emulating your competitors or hoping your consumers will know!

You need to get ahead of the curve and start spotting emerging themes and trends in consumer behaviours, and taking some calculated gambles, to generate new product concepts that put you well ahead of your competitors.

Every year we analyse dozens of trend-forecasts to identify those will be most stimulating for our clients in our innovation workshops.

We’re confident you’ll find the nine we’ve curated for 2020 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 innovation strategy and ideation processes!

#1 Solitary Singles

Single-occupancy households are the second most common format Britain and forecast to grow +128% between 2000 and 2030.

This, coupled with the fact that almost a third of British adults claim to be eating alone ‘most of the time’, creates huge opportunities and challenges for food producers.

There’s a huge unmet need for quick, convenient, healthy foods for single-person households; foods that minimise waste, whilst avoiding over-intensive packaging.

Implication: Individual portions of that appeal to smaller households and reduce food waste – with no corresponding penalties in pack complexity, cost, or sustainability

#2 Retail Becomes Subscription

Sustainability-focused consumers are increasingly preferring to rent or swap items, rather than buying them outright.

H&M is trialling the rental of clothes in its flagship store in Stockholm and Ikea is rumoured to considering a trial for furniture.  AO already renting out washing machines and Adidas is asking consumers to return worn-out trainers for upgrade to the newest model.

The future of retail for products may be to become a lot more like services!

Implication:  Can you create a service line from your portfolio?  The key advantages will be retaining customers’ loyalty and product relevance.

#3 Personalisation

Personalisation is a hot topic.  The volume of data available to companies means they shouldn’t just offer relevant, customised products and services – but solutions that adapt to evolving consumer needs.

Japanese beauty brand Shiseido launched Optune a skin care product in 2019.  Users take a daily selfie via an App. An algorithm analyses their skin, factoring-in temperature, humidity and sleep data.  The Optune device then mixes a skin cream optimised to the user’s needs.

Implication:  Marketing is becoming a game of personalisation.  Consumers increasingly expect relevance as standard and products, services and experiences to constantly adapt around their needs.

#4 Mental Wellbeing

86% of British people say they have experienced anxiety due to work pressure in the last year. 87% have difficulties switching off from work, and 79% cite feelings of failure as a result (Microsoft, September 2019).

In Spring 2019, the World Health Organisation added ‘occupational burnout’ to its International Classification of Diseases.

Constant pressure to be on top form all the time – personally and professionally – is causing many to ‘burn’ through their mental and physical reserves. Amid a growing focus on wellbeing, individuals are confronting the impact of always-on lifestyles.

Implication: Consumers’ concerns about ‘burn-out’ will translate into a demand for calming, stress reducing and healthy-sleep enhancing solutions that improve quality of life

#5 Conspicuous Eco-Action

When asked about priorities, concerns and worries, the environment and sustainability are frequently seldom front-of-mind for consumers.  However, we are seeing a trend towards consumers focusing on single, manageable issues.

Plastic is the biggest topic of conversation around grocery brands, despite ‘sustainability’ being very low on their priority lists.

Consumers want brands to do the hard work for them and will vote with their feet if brands and retailers are not seen to be ditching unnecessary plastic.  Eco-consumption may become less about the status of ‘opting in’, and more about the guilt of ‘opting out’.

Implication: Reduce plastic, and other environmental pollutants, and make sure this reduction is highly-visible to the consumer and those around them.

#6 Easy Health

Trends towards healthier eating, organic, non-GMO and gluten-free are already well established, but foods with functional-ingredients that can treat or prevent common illnesses are looming on the horizon.

Whilst the conservatism of EFSA limits brands’ ability to claim functional benefits, consumers’ demand for products which provide vitamins, nutrients and measurable health benefits are increasing exponentially.

Given the rapid rise in awareness of the threats cognitive-impairment diseases associated with old age, initiatives like those food technology company Ārepa to unlock nootropics to become “the world’s most iconic brain health brand” feel they will be worth watching carefully.

Implication: Forget ‘Light’ and ‘Low’.  Prevention and health-enhancement are the new ‘better for you’ – just make them focused, easy and tasty.

#7 Enoughism

Consumers will challenge the assumption that more is better and gradually move away from the notion that a ‘good life’ is determined by owning more shiny new ‘stuff’.

We may be witnessing the end of aggressive consumption of disposable, mass-produced stuff – and the start of learning to spend hard-earned cash on smaller amounts of awesome stuff, that’s made with love, ethics, and passion.

As long ago as 2016 Patagonia ran ads on Black Friday telling consumers ‘Don’t buy this jacket’.  They’ve followed it with their ‘worn wear‘ initiative to encourage repair rather than replacement.

Implication:  Products need to be built to perform and last.  Brands should emphasise reusability, reparability and recyclability.

#8 Betterness

Consumers are increasingly rejecting the environmental and ethical compromises required by globalised supply chains

A desire for ‘betterness’ hints at opportunties for not just more radical openness and social responsibility, but also local sourcing and making.

Now that technologies like 3D Printing have demonstrated their abilities to craft everything from space ships and houses to customised trainers and food – the biggest challenge is to unlock its capabilities to produce craft-tech products, services and experiences

Implication: Agility, collaboration and scalability will be key to achieving Betterness.  Explore ways of harnessing clean-tech, 3D printing and shared transportation.

#9 Brand Currencies

Smart technologies offer brands opportunities to go beyond traditional, points-based loyalty schemes to create new ways to earn, store and trade ‘loyalty value’.

Innovative businesses are using these smart-wallet based ‘currencies’ not just to reward loyalty, but also to encourage users to swap data for cryptocurrency that can be traded for everything from coffee to snacks.

Cutting-edge examples include Jaguar Land Rover as part of their Destination Zero programme and Miles.

Implication:  Imagine a digital wallet containing different currencies that could both reward loyalty and encourage your most loyal consumers to trade their behavioural and lifestyle data!

Turning Trends Into Innovation Fuel …

Driving Strategy With Trends

Trends are a great way to get your team to challenge their assumptions and start thinking ahead to what your business needs to reinvent itself to be prepared for Horizons Two and Three

We’ve got a proven track-record of working with clients to challenge the ‘same as last year’ mentality … and generate business and innovation strategies that maintain their edge!

Inspiring Ideation With Trends

Trends are a great way to stretch thinking beyond ‘consumers are satisfied with what they’ve got’ and ‘let’s just copy the up-and-coming challenger’ to create breakthrough solutions that anticipate and shape consumer needs.

We can help you put emerging trends at the heart of a creative, blue-sky ideation workshop to create the breakthrough ideas you need for long-term success

So, whether you’re mapping your strategic challenges, planning innovation platforms, or ready to start ideation – we can help you turn trends into the creative fuel you need to stimulate disruption and inspiration

Discover the power of Trend-Activation Workshops

so, if you’d like to explore how we could 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.