In the current climate of major political, cultural and economic upheaval, the consumer behaviours we recognised in our trend, The Good Life, at the beginning of the year have become supercharged.
Back in January we were beginning to seek out a little more luxury in the everyday, but almost a year down the road ‘living for today’ is even more relevant with Brexit, events in Syria and Trump’s shock victory throwing the future into flux.
Right now the focus for consumers is on fully inhabiting the present, because who knows what tomorrow might bring?
THE GOOD LIFE
Defying gloomy predictions that a vote to leave could spark recession, autumn figures show households continued to increase their spending, resulting in a ‘mini-boom’ for both retailers and restaurants, and hotels experiencing a surge in short-stay breaks. What’s more, borrowing on credit cards and loans grew at its fastest rate in almost a decade.
This trend for increased spending on leisure activities and one-off events has proved a standout feature of the UK’s GDP growth – we’re seeking out opportunities where we can indulge in something more extravagant and luxurious, elevating the everyday and making us feel special.
EATING BECOMES EXTRA SPECIAL
Indulgence often means great food with friends, but with casual dining at saturation point, eating out of home is growing more refined in our search for an extra special experience.
Discernible consumers are forcing restaurants to deliver a more heightened experience, combining creative concepts, premium ingredients and beautiful interiors. Grand dining rooms are back! But they’re a far cry from stuffy old-school fine dining – think genuine, natural service, exciting food and paying a little more for the luxury to linger longer.
The night in has also become more of an event. Glam bar carts sit ready to stir up a stiff cocktail, finest tableware is now for everyday use and even the fanciest restaurants are a takeaway option thanks to the likes of Deliveroo and UberEats.
THROWING OURSELVES INTO THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
Consumers seem relieved to be nearing the end of a questionable year, and no wonder – we’re all in need of a good old fashioned knees up. As such, we’re seeing consumers indulge in a little early Christmassy escapism. Decorations are showing their playful side with kitsch imagery injecting an element of fun, while a ‘pile it all on’ attitude can be seen in many shop windows, and velvet, frills and glitter fill the rails.
Even Christmas advertising has seen a step change this year. John Lewis’s uncharacteristically comic Christmas advert has been praised on social media for not making us cry for once, while a wave of ads have followed suit with skiing yeti monsters and talking carrots delivering upbeat festive cheer.
Despite November’s consumer confidence slip, attitudes towards personal finances remain fiercely positive. With the effects of upheaval yet to be confirmed, this ‘Good Life’ sentiment is unlikely to be affected in the short-term. There are opportunities for brands that can help us revel in living life to the full while we still can. Carpe Diem!
We foresaw this consumer sentiment emerging back in January when writing our 2016 Happiness report. Our unique position working across sectors and markets gives us an overarching understanding of consumers’ lives. Meaning that we’re able to spot new trends emerging, and forecast shifts in consumer sentiment. We’ll be refreshing our Happiness framework again in the New Year – watch out for updates!