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The 5 consumer trends that will define 2019

With the lords about to start a-leaping and the geese getting fat, it’s time to look ahead to the New Year.

2018 has been defined by trends like wellness and a move towards plant-based foods. So what’s going to be driving consumer habits next year?

Here are our top 5 trends for 2019...

A new era of wellness

The steady shift towards health and wellness is not about to change direction any time soon - and the value of the UK health and wellness market continues to rise, year on year.

While 2018 has seen a further rise in the popularity of health awareness and greater demand for things like probiotic and dairy-free drinks, in 2019, wellness is set to get more specific and personalised. According to Mintel, 42% of British buyers are interested in following a diet based on their individual genetic profile.

You may like: Reality check(out): Did 2018's FMCG trends impact the bottom line?

As consumers adopt a more holistic, scientific approach to their wellbeing, we can also expect to see a more granular focus on nutrition and supplementary products.

The rise of ‘meso’ nutrients (the compounds inside health-boosting foods) has already seen companies like Fytostar and Coyne Healthcare launching high-strength capsules of ECGC (found in green tea) and curcumin (found in turmeric), respectively.

2019 will also see a greater move towards nutritional products for the brain. These cognitive supplements - dubbed ‘natural nootropics’ - are designed to combat issues that include anxiety, lack of focus and even depression.

Form Nutrition has just launched a supplement with Net-a-Porter US, which claims to provide an instant boost in alertness and cognitive ability, and Eudeamon’s Tranquil Plus supplement promises to alleviate anxiety and stress. And with Mintel predicting the UK vitamins and supplements market to reach sales of £457m in 2021 (up from £421m in 2016), we’re expecting more new brand and product launches over the coming months.

No plastic please, we’re (all) Millennials

One of the things 2018 will be remembered for is being the year we all said ‘enough is enough’ to single-use plastic. From coffee shops and retailers (like Waitrose) getting rid of single-use cups to entire nations (like France) setting targets to do away with all non-recyclable plastic, the move away from excess packaging and plastic waste is here to stay.

Earlier this year Tesco announced that they plan to ban all non-recyclable plastic by 2019, Waitrose will get rid of all plastic bags by Spring 2019, and Glastonbury will ban all plastic bottles at 2019’s festival. So what does this mean?

In 2019 we can expect to see more bring-your-own incentives as well as innovation around biodegradable packaging and waste management. One brand that’s capitalised on the shift away from plastic is Turtle Savers, who produce stainless steel straws for bars and restaurants.

With Mintel reporting that in China, 58% of ‘Mintropolitans’ (aged 20-49) are willing to pay more for ethical brands, the consumer commitment to eliminating plastic waste and shopping ethically means 2019 will see brands facing greater pressure to re-evaluate their plastic use.

The future’s sustainable

From saying no to plastics to turning vegan to reducing emission, the green generation is going greener than ever before.

In 2016, 542,000 people in the UK said they were vegans, today that figure is 3.5 million. What was once a fringe movement has now become a mainstream lifestyle choice, and it’s having a seismic impact on how brands are behaving.

Veganism is set to grow stronger in 2019, with more brands offering vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Pret A Manger now has four entirely vegetarian stores, restaurants like Wagamama and Zizzi now offer separate vegan menus, and cosmetics brand L’Oreal has launched a range of vegan hair dyes.

In 2019, we can also expect to see a greater demand for ‘evergreen consumption’: sustainability and eco-consciousness across the entire product lifecycle. Consumers will expect greater transparency from brands on the entire journey of their goods, from inception to waste to recycling or rebirth.

This consumer demand for circular lifecycles means that suppliers, manufacturers, governments and retailers will have to find new ways to both collaborate and innovate.

Keepin’ social media real

The social media landscape is one that’s constantly evolving. A 2017 study by Edelman found that consumers were 30% more likely to make a purchasing decision based on a brand’s social or political beliefs than just three years previously.

Obviously, you can’t please all the people all the time - and staying silent on controversial issues won’t work either. 65% of the people surveyed said they wouldn’t buy from a brand if they stayed silent on an important issue. So what’s the answer?

As consumers demand greater involvement, transparency and contact with brands on social media, 2019 will see a move towards greater social media authenticity.

With 16% of Hispanic social media users in the US boycotting brands due to things they discovered on social platforms, no matter how careful brands are, social media is guaranteed to result in some level of backlash or displeasure. The critical part is how those moments are managed.

2019 should see more brands taking a strategic approach to social media and openly showing the negative as well as the positive. Instead of wholly focussing on positive stories, brands can create a more authentic communication stream with consumers by inviting criticism and debate. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being real and responsive.

Rise of the bots

By 2020, 85% of consumer-business relationships will be managed by technology - specifically by messaging bots. With 1.3 billion monthly users, Facebook Messenger is the obvious choice for businesses, allowing them to reach customers at scale with advertising and follow up with individual, personalised customer service - and it’s consumers that are driving the trend.

Currently, 53% of customers prefer to buy from businesses they can message directly.

Consumers want 24/7 contact and information - a fact that many retailers have woken up to. H&M’s messenger bot allows shoppers to customise their own outfits before buying, and the helpful Spotify bot takes all the hassle out of sharing and searching for music - it’ll even give you recommendations based on your mood or what you’re doing.

Not only will 2019 signal a rise in the number of brands using messenger bots, but it will also herald a new era of sophistication. Expect to see bots that let customers place orders directly from within the platform, reminders about abandoned shopping carts and more complex product-based conversations. 2019 you’ll be marketing to consumers who choose nutritional supplements specific to their genetic profile, who shun single-use plastics, who embrace veganism and who want to know that your brand is ethical from start to finish. And they’ll expect you to be honest about your social media messaging, and to offer a point of contact 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Are you ready for this shift?

At Rare, we work with brands to ensure that their products and services mean something to someone, rather than nothing to everyone. Check out some of our recent work.

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