When we get the latest consumer trends update ping into our inbox, we often marvel at the latest cool concept store in New York or think some small art-meets-commerce pop up would be great to visit… if we were in London – but more often than not, trends feel interesting but inaccessible, argues Taby Taylor-Ziane strategic director at packaging design company Boxer & Co.
What has that got to do with my bread brand in the supermarket? How can I translate what a bunch of inner city hipsters are doing to my core target in Parramatta?
Consumer trends can feel fluffy and whimsical, a hard thing to translate into a commercially viable opportunity. But consumer trends (not fads) are an important tool in understanding people and surely, as marketers, that is one of our greatest challenges? A trend is “a general direction in which something is developing or changing”, on the whole peoples’ needs don’t change, but how they satisfy those needs can change dramatically. Understanding trends is the key to understanding how best to answer peoples’ needs in the current global landscape.
Design is a key element in how we can capitalise on consumer trends and communicate values and meaning that will resonate with people at a visceral level. Humans are visual creatures and social scientists tell us that the majority of us are visual learners. We decode our environment by shortcutting visual cues, semioticians tell us that colours, form, symbols and signs have meaning at a sub-conscious level. Translating the meaning of consumer trends into design, ensures we are tapping into peoples needs at a big picture level. Combine this with contextual category understanding and you will have yourself a winner.
A good example of how consumer trends translate into design is the Artisan trend. The need for the real and the honest has been heightened in recent years due to the distrust of large corporations and financial institutions combined with the rapid rise of technology and the role it plays in our lives. The Artisan trend is the antithesis of this, it is about things that are handmade, or crafted, that embody passion, care and attention to detail. The visual language of this pervasive trend is handwritten fonts, design that hints to a simpler time, the rawness and honesty of nature, and of course the chalkboard. This style is now prevalent throughout the supermarket, from Heinz gourmet beans to Great Ocean Road Cheeses, there is hardly a food category that doesn’t have some nods to Artisan cues.
But what is the next expression of Artisan? Have we had enough chalkboards? Through our proprietary approach, TrendBoxing, we are at the forefront of understanding consumer trends and translating them into design.
For our Table of Plenty Muesli design we used the new language of Artisan, the artistry of watercolour, this still communicates ‘of the hand’ and crafted but also taps into a need for self-expression in the food arena. It’s not quite a Bompas & Parr food installation, but we identified food as art as a growing trend, and we were keen to be one of the first in the supermarket to embody this in an accessible way.
So next time you get that trend update don’t just read and delete, think what consumer need its satisfying and how it could be changing the expectations of your target. Peoples expectations are set well beyond the parameters of the category you might be playing in, so think big, think global and stretch your understanding.