January 5, 2009

Fresh Ideas Group: Top Ten 2009 Consumer Trends!

The below is from an email sent to me by Fresh Ideas Group, a natural products-focused PR Agency in Boulder, Colorado.

It’s the best food-for-thought, funnest, greenest email in my inbox since, like, 2008. ~ ed.


The theme for 2009 will be New Pragmatism: a more common sense, even old-fashioned approach to everyday lifestyle choices.

While many will view the decrease in spending and worsening economy as a negative, the sobering realities of economic correction will force some positive market trends, which not only benefit consumer budgets but also the environment. This New Pragmatism will force growth in certain sectors — both service and product — and create new bragging rights among the citizenry. “It’s not how much you have; it’s how little you need.”

The Fresh Ideas Group (FIG) is a specialist communications agency based in Boulder, CO since 1995, where it serves as a fulcrum for information and new product trends. With a focus on healthy living and the good life through environmentally conscious consumerism, The Fresh Ideas Group serves as a sponge for cutting edge change.

1) Buying old is new

Materialism goes gauche. Bragging rights on trading possessions will trump shelling out for new purchases with thrift shops and online exchange sites enjoying a huge boost. In fact, a recent New York Times story revealed figures from the Salvation Army and showed that sales have spiked 5 to 15 percent at their stores in recent months. Thriving in this climate: eBay, Craigslist, consignment shops and antique stores.

2) Maintenance and prudence are hip
Why replace products when you can upgrade or repair them? The Shoe Service Institute of America says the nations 7,000 repair shops are thriving. Repair services of all kinds will gain popularity as consumers re-heel their shoes, do minor remodeling to their homes – often with an eye to green building, and show greater prudence with auto repair and upkeep. Vintage and used cars will enjoy a new hip factor. Cobblers, mechanics, handymen/women and green building suppliers will experience growth.

3) Home is the New Destination
Regional travel and home-based activities and entertainment will rise, even as fuel prices stabilize. While most will skip foreign vacations, old-fashioned camping and road trips will thrive along with visits to local amusements, museums and historical sites. We see gardening (often organic), canning and craft projects replacing more exotic extracurriculars. We predict premium cable channels will lose but Netflix will stay strong, and while external gym memberships will suffer, home gym or low-cost fitness items may gain. Look for increases in popcorn poppers, camping equipment, and family games like Scrabble.

4) Comfort in the Kitchen
In uncertain times, Americans will look to the past for comfort and savings. Consumers in ’08 had already begun to reduce their meals eaten outside the home, and in ’09 they’ll fully rediscover their home kitchen. Lower cost staples will experience a new respect including potatoes, carrots, bulk bin items, private label brands, baking staples, and budget meat cuts. According to Nielsen data, consumers watching their food budgets in 2008 helped food retailers increase their sales of store-branded products by 10 percent to more than $81 billion.Shoppers will skip a new Thai recipe that requires uncommon ingredients while staying grounded in mac n’ cheese, casseroles, stews, meat loaves and cakes.

5) The Prioritized Organic Era
While current indicators show a minor drop in organic retail sales, there will remain a strong core consumer for organic products, especially in produce, dairy and kids’ food. Organic will show up on school cafeteria menus, in college campus dining halls and even at 7-11 convenience stores. Consumers will prioritize healthier food choices for their kids or choose the organic items often perceived as most beneficial (greens, berries, juices, dairy, etc.). Dr. Alan Greene, (www.drgreene.com), offers a prescription listing the best organic items for parents to pick. There will be a trading down in organic, but often to the private label or bulk bin equivalents, with parents and the ultra health-conscious remaining committed to organic as part of their diet .

6) Imbibing to survive sobering times
Social economic anxiety, free time as a result of unemployment, and home dining trends will cause alcohol sales to rise. The localvore trend will intersect and push consumption of local beer, wines and even spirits (as micro-distilleries are popping up around the country). Restaurant alcohol sales will suffer while high value wines from Chile and Argentina will do swimmingly. Even boxed wine (yes – boxed wine which is not all sweet pink stuff any more) will benefit in ’09 with wine cartons experiencing a 40 percent jump in sales in November 2008, according to A.E. Nielson.

7) Preventative Healthcare: The New Rx
With national healthcare still a pipe dream, a priority will be placed on staying healthy without insurance. Preventative remedies including vitamins and flu shots will stay strong as consumers try to avoid costly doctors’ visits. Getting enough rest, eating for health and exercising with friends and family will all take priority. Consumers will seek ‘health assurance’ solutions as their health insurance diminishes or evaporates entirely.

8) Nano luxury allowed
No new cars or fancy vacations mean consumers will find smaller ways to still enjoy a bit of luxe. Favorite cosmetics brands will do surprisingly well, as consumers justify a new lipstick as a low-cost pick me up, and natural and organic will also be draws as non-toxic cosmetics rise in popularity. According to author Claudia D’Arpizio, cosmetics will be less impacted by the weak 2008 holiday season, growing at 3 percent. Other mini-splurges will include iTunes purchases, inexpensive accessories, home espresso machines and home spa supplies.

9) Conscious consumerism takes hold
Living within our means will cause some reevaluation of our spending and our core values. We predict this introspective analysis will yield a clearer sense of what really matters and portend a new era in conscious consumerism. FIG predicts that this trend will play out through very focused and deliberate spending of our dollars. The idea of ‘value’ will not merely be relevant for price. Value will also address what’s weighing on consumer’s minds. Fairly traded? Made in China? Food miles? Carbon imprint? High fructose corn syrup? Safe from E Coli? Consumers are no longer just shopping, they’re voting for change. Retailers who offer up knowledge and assurance with their products will differentiate from the rest of the pack.

10) Lighter Imprint Living
A natural byproduct of this New Pragmatism will be the benefits to the environment. As people trade in cars for scooters or bicycle commuting, emissions also get the boot. Consuming less means less packaging, less product transport and less trash. With increased gardening and cooking, these new home stewards will learn to compost, the next revolution to recycling. Compost: a verb and a noun increasingly in our immediate future. Renew is replacing New in 2009.

For interviews or further information about The Fresh Ideas Group or sources of these statistics, please contact Lisa Conover at [email protected] or visit www.freshideasgroup.com.

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