As we step into 2024, the consumer landscape in the UK is marked by a series of trends that are influencing values, behaviours, and social connections that are sure to implicate consumers’ relationships with brands in the coming year.
Human & AI Harmony
In a world where algorithms increasingly dominate, Mintel reports that just under 50% of Brits say they are concerned about interacting more with AI than humans when it comes to services such as customer service and emergency response, signifying a need for balance when it comes to technology and authentic human interaction. With 60% of Brits agreeing that AI should be “human centric, trustworthy and responsible”, as stated by the UK’s first AI safety summit (the7stars Lightbox Lowdown), individuals are seeking to leverage human skills and emotions first and foremost, to optimize the benefits of the ongoing technological revolution.
Traditionally, value in a purchase has been viewed as the ratio of quality to price. Brands often focus on managing the price aspect to enhance value, but the influence extends beyond that. Consumers now have diverse definitions of ‘quality,’ and as budget constraints tighten trade-offs, they seek a realistic balance between quality and cost. Interestingly, 67% of UK consumers who have bought furniture in the past 12 months would rather spend more on items that last a long time, than items that need constant replacing (Mintel). On the other hand, sustainability, convenience, and heritage, although important, should be presented through a quality lens, allowing brands to showcase how these attributes enhance the functional superiority of a product.
3 in 5 of Gen Z say that their social behaviours were one of the biggest changes they made post pandemic (Mintel). Additionally, only a quarter (23%) of Brits say that they go out socially now as much as they did before the pandemic (the7stars Cultural Codes). With this in mind, it’s evident that social connections and interpersonal relationships in the UK have been evolving over the past few years. Now that there is an emerging consciousness amongst consumers regarding the impact of technology on their social lives, there is a growing desire for meaningful, real-life connections. Propelled by concerns for both physical and mental well-being, Brits have a desire to explore new forms of intimacy and genuine relationships. With 2 in 3 of 18-34’s believing that it’s important for brands to have a physical presence (the7stars Cultural Codes), it’s evident that the same principles apply when it comes to their relationship with their favourite brands.
With ‘permacrisis’ being a prime buzzword over the past couple of years and 43% of Brits expecting issues such as high inflation to continue well into 2024 (the7stars Lightbox Lowdown), this trend recognizes the prevalence of uncertainty in the contemporary world. With more than 3 in 5 (64%) of UK consumers saying that they trust financial service providers to offer objective advice to those struggling with money (Mintel), Brits are looking to brands for answers and support amidst the uncertainty of today’s times. Brands should embrace a true depiction of reality and showcase authentic products and services, accompanied by actionable information. This approach would help provide consumers with a sense of grounding, reassurance, and the ability to navigate uncertainty confidently.
These trends signify a fundamental shift in the UK’s consumer landscape. As individuals strive for a more balanced and purposeful existence, businesses are compelled to adapt, fostering innovation, and authentic connections to thrive in this dynamic environment.