Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2018 Trendcast ... Top Five Trends!

It’s that time of the year again!

Time to forecast out the trends that will drive the marketplace in 2018. 

But first, I have to side-track. 

As I share in past Trendcast blog-logues, the trends noted each year are based on all the information that we weed ourselves through combined with the interesting times we have speaking with consumers in groups and one-on-one. 

This past year we have spent a lot of time working with retail clients, some related to food and dining and others related to house & home. We are working with a retailer in pet food and supplies and another retailer in jewelry.  We continued to work with our client in party goods and another one that competes with other department stores.

We have worked with an interesting mix of politicians and political campaigns from the West Coast to the Midwest to the Southeast on some levels state-wide and others very specific voter districts. 

 We have worked with healthcare providers as well as a couple of banks.  We even worked briefly with a trade association of lawyers and another network of funeral homes.

We did a good amount of work with print as well as online media in 2017.

I share this because it gives a feel for the scope of context around which we observe trends as they are being formed and birthed. 

Here are the first FIVE 2018 Trendcast sightings and a feel for how they will impact the marketplace. 

If you find these snapshots of interest, call us at 404.245.9378 and we are happy to come present more depth in person of these FIVE plus the second set of FIVE.

#1 - The Millennial Family Boom

This time last year we highlighted the beginning of the Alpha Generation.  In 2018, the first of the Alphas will be turning 3 years old.  What’s more interesting is that the number of Alphas will likely double in just one year! 

I have to laugh.  If you Google “Millennials having babies,” you will see a host of articles published in 2014 and 2015 talking about the “Millennial baby bust.”  But if you Google “Millennial Family Trends,” you will see a host of articles published in 2017 talking about the fast rate of Millennials now forming families.

The drive of the Alphas will become the #1 driver of change in our American marketplace as the Millennials shift from texting and selfies to claiming home space and assuming the roles of parent and homeowner.  The passion for eco-green and social cause is being replaced by getting to know and becoming active in the local school and PTA.

Reality checks are taking place too.  House payments and taxes are introducing Millennials to the mechanics that drive local politics versus what they see on Kids becoming addicted to a smartphone video game provide a snapshot of the Millennial peers and their addiction to texting.

Brand after brand after brand continues to personify the Millennial as the college kids that never shops in-person, but lives totally online.  Those brands are the ones that will lose out and close their doors soon!

#2 - Migration Out To The ‘Burbs

The reality check I cited in 2017 will explode even more in 2018…The attraction of urban dwelling space is being replaced with morning and afternoon commutes out to the new 3-bedroom-2-bath home. 

I cannot say it loud enough to proceed with caution on any investments being made future forward in what still wears the mask of the novel, hip, cool and growing urban centers and “revitalized” ‘hoods. 

I drove this past weekend out into the suburbs and exurbs of Atlanta and my jaw dropped as I saw subdivision after subdivision being built populated with swing sets in the backyard and tricycles in the driveways.  

In 2018, 96% of all first time babies will be born to Millennial parents.  Living with a partner plus a baby in 500 square feet is not an easy thing to do long-term. 

As noted in a Wall Street Journal article this past September, “the affordability crisis of inside-the-city neighborhoods is not just about buying homes.  Rents too have rising.  In hip urban rehab neighborhoods, the increased home values and rents have put housing out of reach for Millennials even making more than $125K."

Whether its new housing that provides square footage thought to be impossible to ever have again or retro mid-century homes that need rehabbing – or a “signature of personal design” as the Millennials call it -- the suburbs long thought dead are coming back full-steam ahead.

Is this all being driven by Millennials… maybe not. 

The big question is who will be more likely to replace the Millennials in the city.  Will it be Boomers who in their Empty-Nester and Senior years cannot stand to live among the screaming kids… or the GenXers whose Zoomer kids are soon heading off to college and finding that there are other folks besides GenXers dwelling in our society. 

Some suspect that it just might be the GenXers since their kids are not likely to rally up the college debt like the Millennials did before them!

#3 – Career Moms Becoming Stay-At-Home Moms

As much as brands like Betty Crocker and Gold Medal are likely to make a come-back, new terms like WAHM (pronounced as Wham) are all of a sudden hip.  WAHM is the acronym for “work-at-home-mom.” 

A Pew Research survey update found out that 48% of Millennial parents say children are better off if a stay-at-home mom raises them – a percentage level higher than GenXer and Boomers.

In a survey Pew did this past summer among working Millennial moms, 64% said that they would quit if they could to spend more time with their kids and “better anchor the homes.” 

And a stunning low percentage – less than one-in-five – working Millennial moms with one child plan to stay in their job when the second child is born.

I bet that corporate HR has limited idea of these stats!

Sure, there are a number of Millennial dads that are raising their hands to be the stay-at-home parent vs. the mom, but even then, the moms will likely play an instructional role of listing out the tasks that the dads need to do.

My psychologist friends say that fathers becoming the chief wage-earner or instead the stay-at-home dad are a hot new source of business in the next few years ahead!

#4 – Instructional Brand Relationships

I will say right up front, this is a role in which it is being driven by consumer need, not a client-brand desire to “teach” customers how to like and use their brand. 

No, the trend that is surfacing and going to pick up speed in 2018 is more than simple instructional use, its instruction relevant to the brand experiences themselves.

Pick up a copy of HGTV magazine and skim the pages.  You will see quickly just how much of the magazine is instructional in nature versus editorial features and design highlights. 

Whether it’s the Boomer parents that abandoned the kids at the malls or the politically incorrect state of shop and home-ec classes, HGTV Magazine is tapping a deep need for Millennials to understand the difference between a “mixer” and a “stirring spoon” as well as how to start a push mower.

A new growing genre of videos on YouTube are “how to” videos.  DIY-TV is posting its first wave of ratings growth.  Libraries across the U.S. are becoming the hip places to go to actually “learn” things from tuning up the car to innovative activities for the kids like checkers and bean bag games.

Baby Boomers are also drawn into instructional brand relationships that help them age as well as finally save and invest money in retirement plans. Boomers are suddenly coming to terms with the fact that life in this world is not infinite. 

Prepare to see this magnify more in 2018 and it will not be found only online… but in-store, on-packages and, of course, new blogs and news columns. Heloise is coming back!

#5 – Brand Blurs Fostering New Back-to-Basic Brands

About 10 years ago now – hard to believe – Target stores decided to become grocery stores too.  Course, grocery store brands like Kroger decided to become competitive to Walmart with electronics and home furnishings. 

This past Summer, Business Insider published an article titled, “The Restaurant Industry is in its Worst Tailspin Since the Recession.”  It cites the struggle of conventional fast food and causal quick service restaurants.  The authors attribute the rise in pick-up pre-pared meals at the grocery store as the primary cause.  


The restaurant industry is now operating in a blur of brand distinction and character.

I can go to Burger King and get chicken nuggets.  I can go to Chic-fil-A and get a sausage sandwich the looks identical to a sausage McMuffin.  I can get pizza at Taco Bell and burritos at McDonald’s.  Shoot, I can get energy drinks and sodas at Starbucks.

Past simple menu boards featuring simple selection choice are now animated and constantly rotating a menu that has a vast selection choice. 

Starting with Chic-fil-A and now including Panera, management has decided to differentiate their brands by incorporating delivery to the table. 

I could care less if it’s hardware stores selling home furnishings or car dealers staging coffee cafes or farmer markets selling Whole Food products, brands have so blurred who the heck they are and what the heck they represent that even Google has difficulty charting out where the brands go in online searches!

In 2018, entrepreneurs and new start-ups will wake up!

The same entrepreneurs who spawned the rage of food trucks that tapped right into the need for specialty and simplicity will quickly rise with new offerings anchored around a simple and defined retail offering.

The Next Five of the 2018 Trendcast?… call us at 404.245.9378 and let’s schedule a presentation in person!