Demographic and macroeconomic changes may be slow, but they are as big as they are inevitable. Smart retailers in Europe will need to have a firm grasp on how the regions in which they are present are evolving, and what the customer base of the future will look like. This report not only outlines the most important changes in Europe over 2000-2030, but ties them to specific strategies which retailers and their partners can use to avoid falling behind the times.
Income inequality is a serious issue, but disparity is not limited to the growing gap between the upper class and everyone else. Inequality is also apparent in the differences between Western and Eastern Europe, and the young and the old. At such a large scale, treating everyone the same makes little sense, but it is an awfully common concept in business models of the past that make money from catering to the masses. It is time to rethink that model.
Declining fertility and lower net immigration into Europe, along with increased life spans, will be leading Europe into an older, greyer populace over the period to 2030 and beyond. As those of increased age account for a greater share of the population, they will also obtain more economic and political power, making them a key cohort for retailers to keep tabs on.
As usual, change is most acute in the younger generations, who are still figuring out how to set up their lives. Many, whether by choice or economic necessity, are putting off starting families by about three years. In this time they are choosing to focus on their education and careers and split the cost of living with friends and significant others.
Analysis of socio-economic trends often carries with it an undercurrent of doom and gloom. While there are issues that should be addressed, change will not upend society as we know it. Goals such as homeownership and starting a family will remain as important as always. And from those families we will create the next generation of progress. Gen Z, the youngest among us, are predicted to carry this torch as they thrive in a digitally connected society they grew up in.
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