In 2023, we saw people reigning in their household budgets and closely managing their spending. Consumer activism drove conscientious consumption, with people supporting brands that align with their values. And a focus on individuality and self-expression drove demand for more personalized and inclusive products and services.
To start 2024, Berlin Packaging is looking at the most recent trends that will influence consumer routines and behaviors in the year ahead. The weight of global conflict and economic uncertainty is driving consumers to seek enjoyable experiences that help them escape from day-to-day stressors. The rise of AI and the infiltration of technology into our everyday lives is reframing the need for human interaction. And declining trust in brands and institutions is driving demand for value, trust, and authenticity.
This report features our four key consumer trends for 2024.
Enjoying Small Moments
The past few years have felt like one crisis after the next. Stress levels are elevated after a global pandemic, skyrocketing inflation, multiple wars, and ongoing political discord. People need relief from their daily anxieties – small doses of happiness to take their minds off the chaos around them. Euromonitor International identified “Delightful Distractions” as a consumer trend for 2024, noting that consumers are looking for feel-good moments that uplift them. When it comes to packaging, this can include light-hearted messaging, playful product names, joyful graphics, exciting interactive brand experiences, and more.
Pantone’s color of the year, Peach Fuzz, reflects this trend toward enjoyment and escapism, with the company saying, “Peach Fuzz captures our desire to nurture ourselves and others.” In a New York Times article on spending patterns in 2024, Christine McDaniel of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University also notes that people are looking for “less stuff and more fun,” with purchases.
73% of consumers who struggle with stress and anxiety said these issues had a moderate or severe impact on their everyday lives. Source: Euromonitor
Seeking Human Connection
Technology is playing an increasingly significant role in our lives, from social media and text messaging to e-commerce and artificial intelligence (AI). While technology can make our lives easier, it can also lead to burnout, stress, and loneliness. Accenture’s Life Trends 2024 Report notes, “Technology feels like it’s happening to people rather than for them—is a shift beginning, where they regain agency over its influence on daily life?”
Amid the rise in digitalization and algorithms, companies should not lose sight of the importance of human connections and emotions. According to Mintel’s 2024 Global Trends Report, “Consumers who find comfort through screens at the cost of meaningful, real-life relationships will seek new forms of intimacy for the sake of their physical and mental health.” They conducted a survey that found more than half of US consumers say communicating with an actual person is what makes an interaction with a salesperson or customer service department a good experience.
Companies and brands need to maintain personal connections with their consumers - understanding when people want to speak to a human and when AI solutions suffice; using social media and other online platforms in engaging and personalized ways; and adding a personal touch to e-commerce transactions.
61% of US citizens believe “AI threatens the future of humanity.” Source: Poll by Ipsos and Reuters
Undoubtedly, consumers care about the environment and want to support brands that prioritize sustainability. However, green fatigue is setting in, and consumers are questioning if companies are doing all they can to make a significant difference. According to Mintel, there is growing mistrust of brands’ environmental initiatives, with 60% of US consumers agreeing that many companies are just pretending to be sustainable. To combat this, brands must demonstrate meaningful and measurable progress towards their sustainability targets. And they need to communicate this authentically and avoid generic or vague language like “environmentally friendly.”
Euromonitor identified “Greenwashed Out” in their Top Global Consumer Trends 2024 Report. They suggest being factual and specific, saying, “If your product is made from recyclable materials, for example, put the amount of waste that was saved in production on the packaging. That way, shoppers immediately know how their purchase decision or behavior makes a difference.”
“Trust and reassurance will add a new layer to ESG initiatives as brands adopt climate adaptability as a core tenet of their business practices.” Source: Mintel
Redefining Value &
According to Gallup, trust in institutions is declining, including American confidence in both small and large businesses. Consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of brands, scrutinizing them more and shifting their perception of value. Mintel says, “The social and emotional value of a brand will grow in importance as consumers look more towards what a brand means to them personally.”
Consumers continue to value quality, but that is evolving beyond product performance to include sustainability, heritage, and convenience. Cost-of-living challenges have also heightened consumers’ attention to value, according to Accenture. Adding value through personalization, accessibility, functionality, social and environmental consciousness, and authenticity can help differentiate from the competition and drive brand loyalty.
37% of people world-wide think that many companies are prioritizing higher profits over better customer experience. Source: Accenture
Ready to get started?
The brands mentioned in this report are trademarks of their respective owners. Inclusion of these brands in this report is not meant to imply an association with or endorsement from the respective trademark owners.