While consumers are still reeling from the aftershock created by the economic crisis, lessons have been learnt, behaviours changed and consumer adaptability has created a new way of life. With that in mind, Mintel predicts nine key consumer trends for 2011.

1. Prepare for the Worst

With a heightened sense of what economic collapse looks like thanks to the global recession, a renewed emphasis on prevention will drive consumers to think defensively. In the UK, 43% of consumers say “Trying to add to my rainy day savings/emergency fund” is a priority for this year, up 15% from last year.

2. Retail Rebirth

With online experiences developing rapidly, for bricks and mortar retailers, discounting is a no-win battle against the internet. In the UK, 47% of consumers are only buying clothes on sale, offer or promotion and 35% say their choice of store is determined by special offers or discounts.

3. Where its App

With smartphones becoming the dominant mobile force, QR codes and app technology will pique interest, provide portals into unique experiences and improve our quality of life. In the UK, 28% of consumers own a smartphone.

4. No Degree, No Problem

Economic uncertainty has changed the workplace and the meaning of job security for the foreseeable future. As a result consumers will continue to question higher education’s ROI and alternative channels for learning will gain credibility.

5. On Her Own Terms

Women are earning and learning more than men, creating new gender roles in business and consumerism. In 2011, age is no longer an easy marker for lifestage. Opportunities lie for brands to focus less on the year the female consumer was born, and more on where she’s at with her life right now.

6. Retired for Hire

People are working beyond retirement – either due to financial need, or because they have grown attached to a lifestyle. In the UK, 77% of over 55s plan to continue working after retirement age “in order to enjoy and prolong a better standard of living”.

7. The Big Issue

Our attitude toward weight is polarising, pitting the rise of the super-healthy against the appeal of indulgence. In the UK, almost a quarter of women wear clothes sizes 18+, a third of men wear XL clothes or bigger and over 30% of children are classed as overweight.

8. Garden State

Modern city dwellers have a growing love of gardening and a need for nature and with fresh, organic produce still economically out of reach for many, consumers are finding their own ways to bring healthy home.

9. Who Needs Humans

As we move into an ever more digital era, automated technology has machines replacing people – for better or worse. While cashier-less checkouts have become common place, we’re starting to see machines creep into new territories, including hospitals, libraries, pharmacies and the home.

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