Global Consumer Trends to Look Out For In 2024

Hey brand owners! What do you most need to know about Gen Z heading into the New Year? Read on to find out.

We have compiled the key trends to look out for in 2024, when you are looking to attract or sustain your relationship with the next generation of consumption. These trends reflect and build on our learnings of Gen Z and consumer insights over the past year, signifying a change in attitudes and consumer behaviour that continue into the new year.

Let’s rewind:

  1. In 2023, Gen Z has re-shuffled their priorities, emphasizing our health and well-being over career goals or travelling.
  2. 2023 was the year of tech. Artificial intelligence gave us so much more than chatbots: ChatGPT took over the world, sweeping up Gen Z in real-time – but we don’t want tech (or generative AI) to take over our lives completely. We might be digital natives, but we can – and want to – do without digital support at all times.
  3. Over the past year, we have yearned for connection more than ever, and that means social media too. We are not keen on shallow content but are looking for something that has meaning, shows personality and provides community.
  4. In 2023, Gen Z also said good-bye to mindless consumption and endless influencing. We are interested in quality over quantity, and simple, lasting solutions.
  5. Last but certainly not least, 2023 was the year of Barbenheimer 🩷🖤 This has taught us that Gen Z wants to bond over pop culture as the ultimate escapism from reality.

With this in mind, let’s turn to 2024 and understand which trends will take over:

1. True value

2. Easy sustainability

3. Uplifting message

1. True value

We have all felt the impact of inflation and the cost-of-living crisis that was forcing consumers and brands alike to cut back on unnecessary expenses. According to Euromonitor, consumers are trying a myriad of ways to save money, with a majority cooking at home rather than eating out (53%), cutting back on non-essential spending (52%), or switching to buying private label products (33%).

But lately, it felt as if brands were cutting down on their relationship with their customers more than necessary – and we have picked up on it. A recent study from Accenture highlights some of the leading reasons why customers have been feeling less valued lately: 47% are telling tales of poor customer service, 41% are citing ignored feedback, 37% are describing product quality or worsening packaging (25%).

Consequently, customers will reassess what matters most to them, affecting not only what they want and need, but their perception of what constitutes value. While as cost-conscious as ever thanks to the latest inflation, customers are no longer willing to cut down on what they really want. This means finding a compromise that will not hurt our wallets and, at the same time, ensure we receive the quality and care we expect.

What brands can do:

Brands should offer value-added solutions that address consumer preferences, demonstrate their brand value and speak to their brand benefits. A great example of this is Lululemon’s Align Legging Dupe Swap pop-up experience. Customers could exchange their Align legging dupes for actual Align Pants, for free. (#dupe has soared on TikTok in recent years, with more than 3.5 billion views, where consumers are looking for affordable alternatives to popular – and more expensive – brand products.)

Likewise, brands should offer cost-effective solutions that fit the consumers’ new financial mindset. That means exploring low prices through discounts, product bundles or customer loyalty programmes with exclusive benefits.

2. Easy sustainability

If anything, the recurring extreme weathers and new climate records of 2023 were more evidence, more statement to the fact that action is as urgently needed as ever when it comes to the climate crisis. For consumers, this means incorporating sustainability into their daily lives as much as they can. However, we simply cannot do it on our own. Brands have a key responsibility, to own up to their footprints, have a positive impact and – crucially – guide consumers in their choices:

  • 80% of Thai consumers agree that it is important that brands turn their words/missions into tangible actions.
  • 39% of UK consumers agree that they would be interested in labels with instructions how to sustainably care for an item (e.g., wash on a low cycle, use a laundry bag to capture microfibre).
  • 34% of US consumers say they do not choose food or drink products with sustainability claims more often because they prefer food or drink products they are used to.

A great example of a brand supporting consumers in making sustainable purchasing decisions, is UK-based platform Provenance that validates and amplifies sustainability credentials for consumer packaged goods. Their aim is to ‘Amplify sustainability. Cut greenwash.’ – a masterclass in Gen Z language.

What brands can do:

Brands should be transparent about their efforts and the ways in which they are taking responsibility for their impact in their business strategy. Next up, brands should invest their profits into making products that make consumers’ choice for sustainability easy on them. Bottomline is that brands should support consumer on their sustainable customer journey.

3. Uplifting message

Between a pandemic, inflation, climate change and what feels like a new crisis every other day, the past few years were tough on many. And since the forecasts are not indicating that things will necessarily pick up anytime soon in 2024, brands need to find ways to help their customers deal with these crises and the looming uncertainty. Mintel research confirms that consumers want to prepare for what’s next:

  • 49% of Indian Gen Zs say that education/upskilling courses were among their top five spending categories in the last six months.
  • 42% of US consumers say they are focused on improving their spiritual wellness in the next 12 months.
  • 36% of Thai consumers who have experienced mental health issues in the last 6 months say uncertainties in future planning contribute to their mental health conditions.

Amidst all of this, consumers are eager to get their minds off their concerns and worries and spend a little of their time thinking about something fun, playful and happy. Euromonitor coined a wonderful term for this appetite: Consumers are seeking delightful distractions. For brands, this means building uplifting, human connections, creating fun, colourful products and a playful, immersive customer experience that let them escape.

What brands can do:

Brands should do their best to discover ways to uplift their customers, through positive messaging and consumer interaction. Emphasising quality and offering something light-hearted to bond with your customers, can be a first step. Next up, brands should incorporate playfulness and colours in their branding and products, that will appeal to consumers’ senses and offer them a brief escape. A great example of this is Fiat’s latest decision to stop producing grey cars in favour of colourful ones, to solidify the brand’s reputation as a “brand of joy, colours and optimism”. By the way, this also shows that amidst all of the silliness, you should stay true to your brand’s personality and values.

There you have it!

These are the top trends for the coming year, hinting at how to build and sustain your brand’s relationship with the next generation of consumption.

Happy 2024! 🌟

Karen Rickers Karen Rickers