Chain Store Age: 2007 Consumer Trends

Discussion
Feb 02, 2007

By Cynthia R. Cohen

Through special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of a current article from Chain Store Age magazine, presented here for discussion.

The top 10 consumer trends for 2007:

1. Green Is Good: Color consumers green this year with their interest in non-toxic, energy efficient, sustainable wood, low environmental impact, alternative energy, recycled and organic.

2. Hip, Stylish Baby Clothes and Accessories: Brad and Angelina had no “name” clothes for Shiloh’s big picture. The little beauty showed that cutesy is out and stylish new designer baby duds are in, as many of the follow-up stories detailed which new designer’s brand she wore for her People debut.

3. Personal-Content Generation: Consumers of all ages are creating content (words, pictures, videos) everywhere, all the time and sharing it. Not just limited to technology content, longhand journal writing is also back. Just don’t pull a Lindsay and let your deep thoughts get published before you edit!

4. Live/Work Real Estate: Gen Ys and boomers converge here. Whether young, aspiring artists or newly retired/self-employed practitioners, they are renting/buying (which means outfitting with specialized furniture and products) their new live/work spaces.

5. Local Produce: For variety and safety (Popeye, are you careful about the spinach you are eating?), taste is in, fad diets are out and folks are doing what Mom told them … eating their (locally produced) veggies. Lucky Flo-ridians are eating those ugly tomatoes with real taste that can’t be shipped out of state.

6. Healthy Technology: We are going to use technology for more than just music when we work out. Tracking and controlling health conditions are on the front burner. Have you had your chip with medical info implanted yet?

7. Engineered Pets: “Give me one that has a nice, gentle nature, won’t make me sneeze and gets along well with others.” Behavior is the new pedigree, and little Peanut (the teacup dog) is bred to the family’s specifications.

8. Experiential Gifting: More people are getting original with gifting, with cooking classes, restaurant gift certificates, spa days, wine assortments for a tasting party and other experiential things. This means traditional consumer products are losing share in the giftables pie.

9. Comfort-Food Cooking: Cakes go retro as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Bundt cake pan. On the comeback trail is Beef Stroganoff and the Food Channel is showing everyone how to cook it. Real men cook; real women drink Manhattans! (The cherry in the drink complements the red dress she bought in December.)

10. Innovative Travel: No matter what the conveyance–air or donkey–everyone’s going somewhere and looking for comfortable, convenient, innovative travel products. The three ounces of gels are now packed in brightly colored luggage or well-designed functional travel totes along with a plethora of specialized travel-oriented products. Eco travel packages also get a boost this year, and I am planning my trip to Dubai … for the shopping, of course.

Discussion Questions: Which of the 10 trends from the Chain Store Age list do you think will be most widely felt this year? What will this and other key trends in the list mean for retailers?

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15 Comments on "Chain Store Age: 2007 Consumer Trends"


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Dick Seesel
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

“Going Green” and “Personal Content” are the two on Chain Store Age’s list that jump out. They’re moving fastest into the mainstream (as opposed to some of the more faddish items on the list, or others that need to turn from long-term trend into volume). The ongoing saga of “the Greening of Wal-Mart” is a perfect example of the mainstreaming of this trend, exemplified by their push to turn energy-efficient bulbs into an everyday purchase. And the continued refinement of digital technology (YouTube, the iPhone, etc.) is quickly turning the consumer into the creator of content…think of those Super Bowl ads for Doritos as one of many examples you’ll see in 2007.

Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
15 years 3 months ago

Very interesting article from Chain Store Age. Are the results due to research and surveys? To me, there is a common thread that runs through the list. That is, in my opinion, that a great many consumers have almost everything that they NEED. All else is discretionary. Thus all will have an impact. For me I continuously see Experiential Gifting. Whether it is for our children, grown ones out of the house, or our friends with big birthdays or anniversaries, we are always looking for something different. We have purchased cooking classes, spa trips, golf trips just to name a few. The “usual gifts” are viewed as boring and not special. Retailers with the “usual gifts” will need to become more creative in order to keep pace.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
15 years 3 months ago
As a working futurist my own list for this year would be quite different. Pressed to use their list, I guess I’d have to opt for, “Personal-Content Generation.” The ability of individuals to construct–and therefore “live”–in their own uniquely defined universe is going to have immediate and profound impacts on marketing, advertising and retailing. That’s why they sell athletic wear on SecondLife and why everyone is in a dizzy trying to work out the commercial potential of YouTube. The audience is rapidly taking charge of the storytelling or, at the very least, permanently changing the notion of what an audience is, or should be. The ironic thing about the Chain Store Age list is that most of the items have appeared on earlier predictions about the immediate future–predictions that, in the main, never happened. For example, we’ve been talking about “green” consumers for almost two decades. Maybe one of these days we’ll actually see them as a scaled purchasing entity. There’s a tendency to confuse the hip (how Bradgelina dresses their child) with the real… Read more »
Roger Selbert, Ph.D.
Guest
Roger Selbert, Ph.D.
15 years 3 months ago

As another professional futurist, I agree with Ryan. What’s “hot” is not necessarily a trend. My own list of “What’s in store for 2007” comes from the January issue of my monthly report, Integrated Retailing:

Ask Dr. Roger

What’s in store for 2007?

— Another great year for the economy, consumers, and consumer spending.

— Another great year for high-end, luxury merchants appealing to affluent and affluent-minded market segments.

— Another great growth year for e-tailing (to perhaps 3% of total sales?), but not necessarily for pure-play retailing web sites.

— Another great year for department stores.

— Another tough year for specialty retail.

— Another great year for retailing stocks, and another year of retailers “in play” (targeted for acquisition).

— Finally, and most importantly, another great year for integrated retailers, those who are making the efforts–and the investments–to combine their in-store and online operations to enhance traffic, sales, profits, loyalty, market share and stock price. Question marks for everyone else.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
15 years 3 months ago

I agree with Bernie; it seems we have everything and more luxurious living is where the consumers are going. Fountain of youth products will be on the rise. I think you’ll see more back to the basics. Baby boomers are figuring out there is a reason why a lot of their friends are dying of cancer and getting sick. Could it be the air, water and toxic chemicals we are putting into our bodies? Consumers will demand healthy living. Clean or purified air, water and organic and no chemically enhanced foods. There will be an increase in spirituality as gen y’s search for the purpose of life and try to reduce stress. Unfortunately, the dollar won’t buy true peace, joy or the fountain of youth but the search will continue.

Sue Nicholls
Guest
Sue Nicholls
15 years 3 months ago

“Green is Good” is a prediction that, albeit it’s been around for years, is going to start playing a bigger role for retailers. Many of the results of the “green” wave are not measurable, given that alternative health food stores, and even open markets, currently drive many of these sales. Consumer education and media also drive purchase behavior–for example, the recent information on cosmetics that has been in the newspaper–who wants toxins in their health and beauty products? Also, Wal-Mart is going “green” in its stores, which will educate consumers about healthier choices.

Retailers who have separate “health food” sections may want to consider integrating these products into their regular sections. How do you switch consumers up to the typically higher profit, higher dollar ring “green” products, if they are shelved in a completely different section of the store? You are only maintaining the purchases of consumers who are already “green.” Retailers who integrate the “green” into the regular shopping aisles will experience overall category growth.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

At least 2 multi year structural trends were omitted: (1) the decline of the middle class and (2) margin destruction due to internet use. Chain Store Age reports the financial results of every significant American retailer, year after year, and it’s clear that retailers to the middle are having the hardest time. And even when people don’t use the internet to actually make the purchase, they’re certainly using it to find the lowest price.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

To Ryan’s point on the importance of John & Jane Doe vs. Bradgelina to retailing–I recently saw an article, in a women’s magazine no less, touting “camouflage everything” for kids as the hottest fashion trend of the year. The featured offerings even included a camo “layette” to bring baby home from the hospital!

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
15 years 3 months ago
As rising energy prices and interest rates ripple through every sector of the manufacturing economy, I think we’re going to see consumers’ budgets squeezed on every side. I also sense a general feeling in the air that we’ve got too much stuff already–look at the industry that’s grown up around organizing and de-cluttering. While both of those phenomena reflect interest in the green movement in general, I think the two trends on the list that consumers have the most immediate control over are personal-content generation and experiential gifting. It’s easy to see how longhand journaling is coming back. It’s an outgrowth of the scrapbooking trend, which has been running warm to hot this whole decade. Creative Memories, an industry leader, lets folks participate on a variety of levels, from being a guest at a scrapbooking party and buying a few dollars’ worth of supplies, to spending hundreds of dollars on a custom-designed and -assembled scrapbook, to joining its MLM network and working up the compensation ladder. Then, of course, there’s the explosion of online content… Read more »
James Tenser
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Props are due to the CSA editors for publishing this list full knowing that it would be micro-critiqued by people like us. It’s always challenging to separate the fads from the trends early; it’s always self-evident after the fact.

Even though green geo-conciousness is not new, it’s not going away either. I see it as a societal trend that is building steadily in many industrialized countries (where people have their basic needs assured). Because large retailers cover vast swaths of real estate and transport huge quantities of product and packaging, their decisions in this arena have potential to make a material difference.

In a provocative way, green geo-conciousness may be linked to the rise of shared user-created content. Online content communities can and will rapidly propagate accounts of the good and bad actors in global ecology. The bad actors will find they have nowhere to hide.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 3 months ago
The one overriding trend that seems to have flown over the head of all is the acceleration of the INFORMATION TREND. Consumers, especially those with high disposable income, are becoming more and more aware of choices. No longer does one go to the dealer to buy a car without exploring alternatives. Local shopping bots will soon empower consumers to compare the price on packaged goods and make decisions based on having more accurate information available. This will have the partial effect of lowering dependence on the car as a shopping tool and will conserve energy as well as time. More consumer planning will alter the ability of advertisers or merchandising to influence purchases. Local delivery systems will begin to evolve that will free us from “going to the store.” Stores will change as location becomes a secondary consideration – resulting in lower prices. If you don’t think this will happen, just go to New York City. You can get a fully cooked meal or groceries delivered to you any time of day. Additionally, think about… Read more »
Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

I agree with Ryan – this would not be my list. On this list, I would say the Personal Content category will be most obvious. The Gen X and Y people who are putting that content out there want to be noticed; want to be seen for what they can do; want to see what’s important to them and not what an account manager has created for them.

The move toward individualization and customization is very important to this group. Technology makes it possible for them to capitalize on it. Because they use the technology and because they put stuff out there for others to see, it is the trend that will be noticed and commented on by the media.

Michael Tesler
Guest
Michael Tesler
15 years 3 months ago

I know this sounds “so 1997” but in retail stores it is “none of the above”…the trend that is still the one most significantly influencing stores is the perception among consumers in all demographic groups that they are increasingly time scarce. This benefits retailers who create stores and sites that clearly respond to customers needs to see edited, easy-flow stores that always have the right goods.

Karin Miller
Guest
Karin Miller
15 years 3 months ago

I see many of these as “macro trends” that have started, as many have noted, years and often decades ago, and will continue to build. Therefore, calling these out as “2007 Trends” as if they did not exist a year ago, or as if there will be a whole new list in 2008 is a bit misleading, but such is the nature of these lists.

My vote is personalized content generation, giving Amazon credit for leading in this venue years ahead of the rest. Now multi-channel and other pure-play internet retailers are starting to leverage new web-only advantages that allow site visitors to have customized online experiences.

Bhupesh Shah
Guest
Bhupesh Shah
15 years 3 months ago
I think Going Green is already here. Unfortunately many traditional CPG’s have not recognized this and they continue to create innovative products that meet consumers’ needs while neglecting the impact that they have on the environment. As an example, P&G’s Swiffer line of products are fantastic but do we really have to have disposable cartridges for the Carpet Flick or disposable cleaning pads for the WetJet power mop? Yes, accessories and replacement products are where the margins are and everyone from manufacturers to retailers love them but where does the responsibility lie? Aren’t diapers one of the largest consumers of paper from the forests in B.C.? Retailers will have to represent their constituents in asking their suppliers to offer products that satisfy the need for Green. The second trend that is already here is Comfort Food cooking. It ties in to what Faith Popcorn first identified in the 1990’s – cocooning. It also explains the Live/Work Real Estate trend and Personal-Content Generation trend. Retailers should already be positioning themselves to take advantage of opportunities that… Read more »
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