On a cold and grey day in January, Kay McCarthy from MCCP set our wheels turning and our tongues wagging as she shared global and local research and insights into the next wave of consumer needs and contextual trends.

At an MII invite-only event for senior marketing management we listen with rapt attention as Kay delved into detail and broke down the MCCP’s analysis-based predictions for 2023. Here we share a breakdown and overview of those key insights and trends.

This year, MCCP predicts that we will see the Age of Rebellion, with consumers pushing back against authority, surveillance, restraint, and perfection. People are railing against long held beliefs and becoming more vocal about their personal values. At the same time consumers are voting with their feet and leaving established brands that don’t align with their internal belief structures.

In particular, Gen Z, the generation with rebellion winding through their DNA are fighting against perfectionism and the perfectly packaged world that their Gen Y predecessors were fixated on. Future Foresight data indicates that 38% of adults don’t feel the need to look perfect all the time. Channels like TikTok are giving people the tools to become more raw and unfiltered, delivered through shorter formats which are prioritising brevity.

Equally, there has been a backlash against brands and societal structures that don’t work for consumers. People are feeling empowered to challenge taboo topics in order to change society for the better and battle against previously felt restraint. In Ireland, we’ve seen this most recently with the #Let’sTalkAboutMenopause Campaign from the Department of Health, encouraging society as a whole to open up and talk about menopause and mental health for the better of everyone.

MCCP identified 4 key meta-consumer needs that reflect this age of rebellion as well as the opportunities they present for brands.

1. Peer Power

People are feeling the need to reach out and form new communities and tribes. They want to create and participate in movements that matter to them. This has been bubbling for some time and Covid-19 further fuelled this fire as there was time for people to pause and reflect on what matters most to them.

2. Incognito

In this era of technology and cookies, people are increasingly feeling the need to remain anonymous. Consumers recognise that their behaviours and user profiles are being tracked and analysed. If they share their data, they want a fair value exchange as well as transparency over how their data is being used.

3. Hyper Real

People are feeling the need to see “real over perfect”. They are rejecting over-claims and value the truth even if it is a less preferable option. This is an important need for brands to take note of, particularly in a market where price has become more of a driver of demand, given rising inflation.

4. Play

People are feeling the need to create micro-moments of joy and escapism via small, permissible treats. This is giving rise to the “moment economy”. A 2022 study from PayPal reported that 80% of Irish people feel it’s still important to spend money on a treat, despite inflationary pressures. This creates plenty of opportunities for brands to provide more every-day premium experiences and escape, tapping into the consumers’ desire to disconnect and embrace play. For example, the large scale opening of highend hotels and day spas in Ireland as well as the pop-up Lego Café.

The Opportunity

These needs clearly show that brands must move towards more choices around privacy, more open communication, informality, collaboration and quality high-end experiences. There is an opportunity for brands to transform and shape moments of escapism through their products and experiences, to transport people into a new release, enjoying and suspending reality – with permissible product and product renovation.

Next on the agenda was a deep dive into 4 contextual trends set to significantly alter and ramp up the meta-consumer trends.

1. Artificial Intelligence

With data often cited as the gold dust of the next economy many people still lack an understanding of its potential to transform just about everything. Going forward, data will inform faster decision-making including revolutionising how we innovate and capitalise on predictive capabilities. AI is set to accelerate innovation and consumer expectations for seamless experiences both online and in-store.

Brands need to review their current customer experience and find new solutions to not only make the online and in-store experiences frictionless on their own, but also to look at how they can make the transition to phygital* a simple, easy and enjoyable experience for consumers.* Phygital (physical plus digital) is a marketing term that describes blending digital experiences with physical ones.

2. Communities

Community is no longer just about locality; it is about culture and identifying with different tribes. This is increasing media fragmentation where communities are clustering around their interests and passion points. Heritage is also more important now than ever before.

There is an opportunity for brands to delve into what defines their heritage while at the same time leveraging and revitalising it to make it relevant today. This theme of community opens up opportunities for all brands to understand their different tribes and enhance their cultural value through product innovation, communications and experiences.

3. Wellness

Health has evolved from a sole focus on physical to a panoramic, all-encompassing approach with a greater focus on mental and emotional health. This means moving beyond functional benefits to improvements in social health, mental well-being and financial health.

Now more than ever there are more ways brands can serve this ever-expanding category of needs. For example, sharing your employee wellness strategy does more than just attract new talent. People are looking at brands in a holistic way and internal strategies have a real impact on external perception.

4. Values-Action Gap

Sustainability and the need for sustainable solutions is not going away, it’s growing. Despite this, there are still few largescale brands that walk the talk with many putting the onus on the consumer to figure it out and change their habits.

There is an opportunity here for brands to make living a more sustainable lifestyle attainable by designing convenient, clear and affordable ways for people to make positive changes to their day to day. Brands need to consider how they can credibly contribute to lessening their impact on the environment and make it easier for their consumers to change their habits. For example, through donations, partnerships, reviewing processes in the supply chain, and innovations to offer new solutions to consumers such as capitalising on the rise of the resale economy etc.

We would like to sincerely thank Kay and MCCP for sharing their valuable insights with our MII members during this sponsored event.

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You can find details of the upcoming breakfast, here.