Catch the wave: 11 global consumer trends

Alexander Shubin,  Alexander Shubin, managing partner of Partner Business Consulting, an international expert of consulting group Gerson Lehrman Group, email

Viktoriya Plotnikova, Director of Development Partner Business Consulting,

The financial crisis and depletion of natural resources, the instability of political systems and economies of many countries, including the United States and the European Union, open borders, integration and finally the change of generations form the basis for the emergence and development of new trends, "waves" in the consumer markets. The objective of any business to catch their "wave" and turn on its crest.

Consider the 11 global consumer trends that are revealed in the course of research conducted by All the trends identified and formulated in such a way as to give businesses the opportunity already now to make clear steps and pick practical tools to improve the relationship with their customers, to understand their satisfaction, and as a consequence, increase the profitability of their business.


  • Random kindness.
    Price hell.
    Made for China
    Symbols online status.
    Health control.
    Ease of socialization (Social-lites).
    Growing virtue.
    The planned spontaneity.
    Environmental priority.
    Light weight in the possession.

    Random kindness

    Trend Random Acts of Kindness (RAK), or random kindness is related to another global trend - the emergence of Generation G (from the word Generosity '). Generation G is not only interested in charity, but also free distributes its action, using own time to interact and help others. Pay attention to, where every minute is pumped about 13 hours of video, or the millions of blogs in which people contribute their valuable knowledge, tips and experiences.


    According to the statistics to the generation G include people between 18 to 34, they make up 65.29% (data for Europe and North America). Exactly, people of this age are active consumers.
    What does this mean for marketing your company? RAK-strategy in dealing with clients should be one of the most important tools in the customer-centric business. The strategy is to understand what consumers really care about, and participating in their life happy or sad moments vice versa.



    Here are two interesting examples of how companies apply in practice RAK-strategy.
    Flower delivery company Interflora has launched a campaign on social networks UK designed specifically to make life  of Twitter users brighter. Interflora monitors the messages that appear in Twitter, and looking for people who need encouragement and support. Once these users are found - as a surprise they sent a small bouquet of flowers.
    Danish airline KLM in 2010 campaigned How Happiness Spreads. The campaign was hired a special team to give the desired unexpected gifts at the airport. During November 2010 after a passenger have checked in KLM, the team «Surprise Team», looking for information about him on social networks and decides which gift he needed before the flight.
    Such surprises are usually for a company worth nothing - compared to the huge budgets being spent on traditional advertising.



    Urbanization, of course, is one of the global trends of the new decade. Today, nearly 3 billion people live in cities, about 180 thousand people move there every day, adding to the urban population of about 60 million people per year (Source: Intuit, October 2010).

    How does it change the consumer market? First of all, urban consumers tend to try the latest products and services, new citizens are trying to distance themselves from the traditions and social structures, and are constantly in search of alternatives. Second, pay attention to the "urban island": 100 cities, form 30% of the world economy, the economy of New York City more than 46 African economy combined. A Hong Kong takes tourists a year more than the whole of India (Source: Foreign Policy, August 2010). Any large city is actually a separate "country" or "island", home to a large number of consumers with different values, preferences and behavior. Meeting the needs of local citizens requires a specific approach to services, products and marketing campaigns. Approach to customer segmentation in terms of income, education or other standard features are no longer working. The study "The motives of Russian buyers in choosing foods" has shown that there are three major segments: consumers are sensitive to prices - 21.5% of consumers of natural products - 45.8%, consumer products "for the soul" - 32.7% (Pirjo Honkanen, Lynn Frewer, Russian consumers' motives for food choice, Elsevier, November 2008). But if you take a closer look, these segments can be distinguished micro-segments, such as young people aged 20-25 years (generation of the Internet and the active promotion of brands) or unmarried women who are building careers.

    Price Hell


    Consumers have always looking for and are looking for special deals and discounts, but new technology is likely to turn the next few years for businesses in  Price Hell:
    Many consumers have constant access to the Internet and when they hear or see the new proposals, they instantly spread information on social networks, creating a positive or negative attitude toward the brand, dramatically stimulating or, on the contrary, deter sales.
    More and more consumers are becoming part of an exclusive group for special offers, often they may even require such proposals.
    Mobile devices allow you to find or receive offers directly in sales or compare prices online.


    The ability to easily access to the Internet fundamentally changes consumer habits. Within the program Favorite Places Google offers entrepreneurs to place their products on the label with the logo of Google, scanned the bar code and the inscription: "We are the favorite destination on Google». has launched a special application for the iPhone, which allows users to compare prices by scanning the bar code of goods, photographing it or saying the name of the product


    Given this, the business is forced to invent a new business model of selling and pricing, which will be based on such instruments as:
    Group buying. Two billion consumers constantly use the Internet - it allows them to easily unite, increasing their purchasing power. For example, the company and its Groupon competitor Living Social, offer excellent service group buying. Such sites occur rapidly in all countries of Kuwait and Dubai: Big Lion (Russia), Daily Deal (Germany) ... In September 2010, the Chinese group buying site Taobao in  3.5 hours has sold 200 cars Smart.


    Sale of membership. Old format of the club (remember «Costco») reborn online, where you create an exclusive niche community, entry into which costs money. Socially active (Social-lite) consumers enjoy the social aspects of shopping showing the status and exclusivity, while the companies are able to offer a private price cut for a small group. Fashion brands were the first to use this tool, offering significant discounts, for example,, Gilt Groupe and iDeeli.

    Flash sale. Group buying sites and online clubs often use proposals, limited in time to the formation of impulse purchases. Companies DellOutlet and Threadless 

    achieved impressive successes in the flash sales via Twitter.
    Dynamic pricing. Traditionally, dynamic pricing model used in the airline industry is now widely used in other sectors. For example, some hotels the room rate is determined through an auction site on the Internet.


    Made for China


    More and more Western brands release new localized products to consumers in developing markets. First of all, because developing markets exhibit rapid growth and allow to earn more, and the combination of the quality of Western brand and small localization - the best tool for this.
    Like all other consumers, Chinese, Indians and Brazilians appreciate products that are designed to meet most of their needs and desires, including for practical reasons (shape, size, features) or because they reflect the best traditions and way of life .
    Examples of well-known brands:
    Denim brand Levi's has developed a brand dENIZENfocused on the Asian market, with the special form that is suitable for the Asian figure.
    BMW has released a limited edition models M3 Tiger in metallic orange  color to mark the 25th anniversary of the production of M3 in China. The model has been named according to the year of the lunar calendar.
    At the Apple store in Shanghai employees dressed in red T-shirts with the slogan "Designed in California. Made in China "in Chinese - so play on the inscription on the back of the iPhone« Designed by Apple in California, assembled in China. "


    Online status symbols


    Whether we like it or not, the Internet has become part of the common culture. And online symbols are included in life, reflecting our personality, status or mood. Soon tangible signs that show the status, social activity and creativity in the online will undoubtedly be the essential attributes that connect virtual life with physical reality. And you will not go wrong if you give your client, such as a mug with a picture of his status on Facebook or Twitter. Virtual objects can acquire their material counterparts. Thus, for example,
    Twournal Company enables its user to transform their messages posted in Twitter, a real printed magazine. Moreover, creating and publishing their books using this service, users can buy and sell publications of other users Twitter.
    Or the company CrowdedInk (USA) has created a special application that allows users to generate mugs with photos of their friends from Facebook or Twitter.
    Many social online game make for a small fee prizes and items that exist in the game, the real objects.


    The control over health


    Good health today for many consumers becoming a modern symbol of status. 

    In the U.S., 73% of consumers believe that being physically fit is more important than being rich (Source: The Hartman Group, August 2010). 

    It is expected that about 500 million people worldwide have become users of devices for monitoring health status (Source: Reasearch2Guidance, November 2010). 

    By November 2010, it was available for about 17,000 of computer programs related to health, with 57% of them were aimed at ordinary consumers, not professionals in the field of public health (Source: Reasearch2Guidance, November 2010). 

    'Consumerization' of health means that more and more consumers will choose products with embedded health control. Some examples of such products.


    Strollometer - device that helps young mothers to know the number of calories burned while walking. On the device, they can see the speed, distance, they pass their time, the temperature of the environment. After the walk, you can enter data into a special form on the site and see how many calories were spent.

    Sleep On It - mobile application that allows users to track the parameters of a night's sleep. The device can identify the factors that affect sleep, to know how many hours it should last person to feel energetic and cheerful..

    Easiness of socialization - TWINSUMERS


    Rumors and recommendations, which are some of the main tools of modern marketing, will depend on the dynamics of personal communications, in which the key role played by "curators" of individual topics, groups, discussions and other social media. Curators create broadcast (mass) of the message, make a compilation from other sources, comment on articles and blogs, etc. In communities formed opinion on products, services, discusses customer experience - and all affect the decision to buy the goods. "Most Russians make decisions relying on personal recommendations, and therefore Russia supports global trends - the transfer of control over the product information into the hands of consumers", - says Olga Belova, director of research of consumer behavior, Nielsen Russia.
    Why do consumers want to become "curators"? Because many of them are spending time and effort on building your own personal brand - brand me, including through an online profile, which keeps their views and recommendations disseminated through social networks.
    Today more than ever just to be socially active. Instead of calling or writing letters to the user leaves the information for a large number of readers, without interrupting their current activity and not intruding without permission in their personal space. Consumers will talk about brands, more than ever, and this is an opportunity to create content that they want to distribute. The button "like" in Facebook - one of the main instruments in the dissemination of information about the brand on social networks. Here are some examples of such social-lite environments.


    Gogobot -is an online community of travelers. Its users can ask various questions, such as "Where in Paris is a fun restaurant?", And not just on this site, but also on Facebook and Twitter. Gogobot collects responses ranks and provides photos and links to related sites.

    Online service Mombo анализирует сообщения Twitter во всем мире, и на основании этого составляет рейтинг кинофильмов, при этом каждое сообщение анализируется специальной программой, оценивающей его эмоциональность.


    The growing virtue


    Undergoing fundamental cultural change: a generation G to charity, not only in developed countries but also in developing countries. Some numbers to prove it:
    86% of consumers around the world are convinced that the social and business interests should be equally prioritized.
    78% of Indians, 77% of Chinese and 80% of Brazilians prefer brands that "do good works" (such consumers in the world average of 62%).
    8 out of 10 consumers in India, China, Mexico and Brazil expect that companies give part of the profits to charity (Source: Edelman, November 2010.).
    In September 2010 Bill Gates and William Buffett, 2010, organized a dinner in China for the very wealthy to promote the idea of ​​philanthropy. This event was like similar events they have organized in the United States in order to obtain commitments of rich people, at least half of their wealth to give to charity and the development of society, although the official purpose of the event was to discuss the issues and problems surrounding the development of charity. (Source: Washington Post, October 2010.)


    Planned spontaneity


    Increasing urbanization and the accelerating pace of life in cities forms a "fragmented" style of life. The dense urban environment with a constant possibility of different choices of products and services to mobile phones and smart phones are creating a new generation that does not have habits and experience the hard planning.
    For such consumers knowing where they are, what and who is around them, is key manifestations of the planned spontaneity. According to Jeff Jonas of IBM, mobile devices in the U.S. to create about 600 million "transactions" (including calls and SMS messages, take into account not only smartphones, connected to the internet) with geo-referenced to the site. Geographical reference to the countryside to become a key feature of social networks and web-based applications, such as Facebook's Places, Twitter's locator, Google's Hotpo and others. Consider some of them.


    LikeOurselves allows people with similar interests to find each other through mobile teams. Service allows users to quickly create a group and look for members within 20 miles of their location and organize a meeting on the run..

    Unsocial is an assistant to arrange a meeting people with similar professions or similar industries. The service operates using the algorithm and identification of the location of people with similar professional characteristics .

    The priority of ecological compatibility

    One of the major challenges for governments, consumers and businesses remains the question of the formation of societies and economies, developing in the direction of respect for the environment. With the advent of "green consumption" is expected to grow products that uses the principle of the priority of environmental protection. Products that are not only useful for users, but exclude any components that pollute the environment. 

    Why do I need to think about the exceptional environmental friendliness? The critical mass of consumers who are in search of "green" products is increasing, although it does not mean that the trend took final shape: 

    40% of consumers say they want to buy "green" products, but only 4% actually buy them when there is a choice (Source: Journal of Marketing, September 2010). 

    58% of consumers think that environmentally friendly products are too expensive, while 33% believe that it is not very effective and productive (Source: GfK Roper, September 2010). 

    The number of "green" products in accordance with the advertising statements of companies in the U.S. increased by 73% from 2009 to 2010, but only 5% actually were such (Source: Terrachoice, October 2010). 

    It is expected that many of the leading brands will move from simple statements about the environmental marketing their products to the creation of this environmental improvements through the traditional attributes of products, emphasizing, for example, quality and exceptional ease of design, increased uptime and lower operating costs.Examples of exceptional environmental friendliness?: 

    Stealth Toilet (Sly Toilet) with a special system that spends only 3.6 liters of water per flush, which saves the average family about 91 000 liters each year

    or, company producing LED lamps, which consume 10 times less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and 45 times longer work, do not contain mercury, do not emit infrared and ultraviolet light, such as fluorescent lamps, and significantly reduce the formation of carbon dioxide.

    Ease in the possession


    In the coming years, changing the attitude of people to transform the joint property ownership and rental of various objects in the real trend.
    For many consumers become clear that:
    Traditional ownership of property implies a certain level of responsibility, it is associated with additional costs. Consumers who are looking for convenience and are seeking experiences and impressions that do not need a large number of objects in the property.
    Services co-ownership and leasing offer the opportunity to receive the latest, the best possible, maximizing the experience and expertise, including the exclusive products. You do not need to buy a tuxedo, if you clothe him once a year, and if you want to impress potential clients, you can rent a car class the latest model just for one day.
    Possession cumbersome, rarely used things and objects, and expensive and inconvenient, especially in dense urban environments where space is not cheap. Today, using online access, you can just rent almost any object anywhere.
    Even today you can see the two main areas of development in this area:
    For example, co-owning a car - one of the most successful examples of a trend, "Lightweight possession." Clubs on cross-ownership vehicles occur throughout the world. Zipcar - a leader in this area, but these services can be found from Australia to Brazil. "Big brands", observing the success of small start-ups, rapidly enter the market. Hertz launched its service on cross-ownership in December 2008 - Connect back. In July 2010, Peugeot launched its Mu mobile service in the UK after a successful launch in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with its help, customers can rent cars, scooters, trailers and even bicycles.
    With programs rent bicycles at low prices, launched in Minnesota, London, Mexico City and in the Ruhr in Germany, the city authorities decided transportation problems, the program   Autolib lounched in Paris allows you to rent electric cars


    Catch the wave ...

    All of these trends have not yesterday, but many of them will reach the peak of their life cycle in the coming years. Some of the trends are not applicable to all consumer markets, and may not apply to all countries, because they are based on certain factors such as the accessibility of the internet, income level or age of the population. But the understanding of global trends can detect local changes that will inevitably occur and will occur in a particular country or region - it will give the opportunity to develop a successful strategy that allows to be on the crest of the wave of these trends.