800 million new consumers … rethinking strategies and brands to engage the female, older and Chinese consumer

June 13, 2017

A seismic change is happening in consumer demand as global population surges to 7.4 billion by 2021. This will include 800 million new consumers, with newly disposable income, and even bigger dreams and aspirations. Most of them in India and China. At the same time, demographics will have a profound effect with Over 60s growing from 900m today, to 2 billion within 4 years. And then add attitudinal changes, millennials who are driven by fairness and collectivism, women liberated to assert their own influence and power, and social strivers everywhere in search of the new symbols of progress and achievement.

I see this every time I travel. Sitting in Frankfurt airport the other day, I was surrounded by youthful Chinese travellers who spoke perfect English and wore and carried every designer brand imaginable. Leading a workshop for a luxury hotel chain in the Maldives recently, we realised that the future consumer was more likely to come from the East not the West ,with very different needs and wants from a vacation. Working for a car brand, we realised that more consumers were female than male, but most of the images and aspects of advertising and sales, were still far more masculine than feminine.

This doesn’t just mean obvious changes, it means thinking in new ways, exploring new opportunities, and making smarter choices. Add technology to the fray, and the choices become even more significant. By 2020 there will be 6.1bn smartphones on the planet, not just requiring a mobile-centric approach to communication, but meaning that people will expect fast and personal engagement, anywhere and anytime. Forget the old idea of one-size fits all brochures, or websites. This is a very different world, a very different market for every kind of business.

HSBC has just launched a new global report The Future of Consumer Demand:

Global consumption and consumerism is changing, driven by a rapid increase in the number of people who can afford to choose what they buy and how they buy it. Understanding these changes, and recognising what will in uence consumers in the future, will become increasingly important for businesses.

The report explores three macro trends contributing to signifcant changes in consumption behaviours around the world and international trade.

  • Growing consumer class …  the number of people considered ‘consumers’ will exceed 90% of the global population by 2020 as the numbers of those living on subsistence incomes declines. Once a consumer’s basic needs are met, they can think about purchasing a wider range of goods and services.
  • Technology and power of data … advances in digital technology, increasing smartphone ownership and growth in the number of Internet users have revolutionised the way people access, choose and pay for goods and services. People now have greater choice, and greater access to information, so they can be more discerning. Data is supporting greater levels of business insight into their needs, preferences and loyalties.
  • Transparency of business … with greater choice and access to information, the digital revolution is also allowing consumers to make choices based on their personal values and to use social media to put business ethics in the spotlight. Trust is also essential to the growing sharing economy – where people choose to exchange goods or pay for temporary access rather than owning something permanently.

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