Trust and transparency appear in the top 4 trends that are set to impact consumer markets in North America and Europe in 2018, according to Mintel.

More proactive and high-tech approach

Carli Gernot, Mintel

Carli Gernot, Mintel

There is in fact a general lack of confidence between consumers and many governmental or private organizations. Generally speaking, distrust in governments and media is spreading to companies and brands, Mintel points out.

According to the market research firm, only 18% of American consumers agree that “most Americans share my values,” and just 5% of Canadians say they trust the news stories they read on social media sites. As far as European are concerned, Mintel reveals that “just 25% of those who have used a device to access national newspapers online say that the content on these websites is trustworthy.

In such a context, many consumers - especially at the younger end of the spectrum - expect companies to take a more proactive, high-tech approach when it comes to increasing transparency. For instance, one in five 20-24-yearold Brits would like online retailers to have videos showing how clothes and shoes are made.

In an effort to increase transparency SC Johnson recently announced that it will list the presence of 368 potential skin allergens that may occur in its products.

Key factor in product choice

As consumers reprioritize who and what they believe in, companies will have to take a stand, speak out and prove that they’re trustworthy. “Today, trust has become one of the strongest drivers in how consumers choose products, services, and which organizations and politicians to support”, explains Carli Gernot, Manager of Trends, North America at Mintel.

In the coming years, brands will have to court consumers with transparency, honesty and facts and, at the same time, they will need to find new ways to prove their positions.

Product innovation that meets the changing needs of apprehensive consumers can build or redeem trust, including adding more information to packaging or incorporating livestreams of production methods,” adds Carli Gernot.

Catherine Cottney, Mintel

Catherine Cottney, Mintel

As greater transparency will become standard, companies must be ready to provide consumers with quantified and qualified facts, whether this is related to manufacturing processes or how efficacious a product is. “In terms of marketing, there will be a push for greater authenticity,” says Mintel. “Consumers are set to see behind-the-scenes revealed through creative campaigns that put employees to the fore and capitalise on their years of expertise.

With consumers more able to question and query the actions of brands, radical transparency will be the watchword for 2018 as they try and show they can be relied upon as trustworthy,” concludes Catherine Cottney, Manager of Trends at Mintel.

2018 top trends

While consumers of both sides of the Atlantic share this common concern for transparency, other areas of interest vary widely.

As far as North America is concerned, Mintel unveils the following four key trends:

1. Trust Funding. In a post-truth world, consumers are putting their dollars where their trust remains intact.
2. The Value Equation. Budget-minded consumers are weighing a variety of value factors for each purchase decision, and brands are making these individuals a priority.
3. Health Yourself. In an uncertain and seemingly unstable world, self-care and preventative health are becoming essential for consumers across demographics.
4. Life in Sinc. Voices & Visuals. As the line between online and offline blurs, smart systems are delivering seamless convenience - with voice control and image recognition at the helm.

And for Europe:

1. Sea Change. Ocean plastic fashion and recycled packaging launches, ingredient bans and activism are focusing consumer and government attention on maritime conservation.
2. Shareholders. Hacks and data disclosure legislation form a new breed of consumers who will hold on tight to their data and demand something in return before sharing it.
3. Teenaiders. Teens are increasingly defined by anxieties around image, health and work, and are looking for brands to alleviate the pressure and help them build both their confidence and prospects.
4. Accountants. In a world of post-truth politics and unsubstantiated media, consumers are looking for brands to court them with transparency, simplicity and evidence.