As 2015 comes to an end, we look back at some of our key insights this year. 2015 was a year when the global economy strengthened but (once more) at a disappointing pace. Divergence was a key word: the UK and the USA have been experiencing the strongest growth of the world’s major developed economies, whereas Japan and Italy continue to disappoint. The Indian economy outpaced China and Russia and Brazil became mired in recession. In general, emerging markets have had a difficult year with the China slowdown never out of the news.
The 2015 consumer continued to spend cautiously with expenditure increasing by just 2.2% over 2014. Community rose in importance for many, with retailers working to tap into this trend. Omnichannel retailing also met the needs of consumers who see their “real” and “digital” lives converging.
Here are some of the year's highlights from our economic and consumer trends analysis:
- We kicked off the year with two of our most popular webinars – the Top 10 Consumer Trends for 2015 and our economic outlook for the year: The Global Economy in 2015. Our seminal top 10 trends research showed that consumption in 2015 is increasingly being driven by the heart, with consumers making choices defined by their positive impact on the world and their community such as cause-linked buying and the thriving ‘sharing economy’. The blending of online and ‘real world’ lifestyles moved into a new, more unified phase and convenience came back on the radar of more consumers. Whilst our outlook for the global economy looked at the expected performance of major emerging and advanced economies; and risks and opportunities for the global economy including the spectre of deflation, geopolitical instability and the weak oil price.
- In 2015 Millennials continued to be the generation everyone was talking about. Our Strategy Briefing “Millennials: Impact of their Behaviour on Global Consumer Markets” highlights that a diverse group of people, from the 25 year-old rural Indian mother to the wealthy 29 year-old tech entrepreneur in Shanghai. Cultural differences abound and, more than this, Millennials, like any other demographic, are individuals spanning a range of personality types. With Millennials seen as the driving force behind the global digital landscape, Digitalised Millennials Differ in Developed and Emerging Markets explored the diverse consumer relationships with digital brands, the varying premium placed on “value-for-money” and “luxury” telecoms goods and services, and the levels of trust placed in online transactions.
- The emerging market slowdown was another theme of the year. Our content included FMCG Companies Most at Risk Due to Emerging Market Slowdown through to Submerging or Emerging Economies? and Emerging Markets Tech: Top 3 Struggling Digital Economies of 2015. The premise here is that in a slowdown a thorough knowledge of the economy, consumers and market is more crucial than ever.
- Despite – or maybe because of – the slowdown, China continued to be the key country of interest for many of our clients in 2015. Strategies for Consumer Market Success in China outlined three ways to connect with Chinese consumers, whilst China’s Economic Growth – Why We Should Look Beneath the Surface explored the changing drivers of the economy.
- Tech trends also wove their way through 2015. As early adopters, teens can be the difference between success and failure in the tech arena so we looked at the Top 3 Digital Teen Trends earlier this year. We also identified Nigeria as topping the rankings for the Top 5 Emerging E-commerce Markets. Finally the emerging s-commerce space was explored in our strategy briefing: Social Platforms Embrace Social Commerce.