[GRRN] Consumer Trends - FYI

RecycleWorlds (anderson@msn.fullfeed.com)
Tue, 18 May 1999 09:11:09 -0500

fyi- Consumer trends as predicted by Battelle. See par. no. 8 below.

Peter Anderson

February 16, 1999
What benefits and value will be most important to consumers of household
products in the
United States over the next decade? That question is often asked by
companies hoping to make
investments in the successful products and services of tomorrow.
"Battelle is frequently asked to characterize future consumer behavior when
traditional market
research cannot help companies and investors with decisions about new
breakthrough products,"
said Dr. Stephen M. Millett, who manages Battelle's Interactive Future
Simulations (IFS)
software product development in the Energy Products Division. "The
competitive advantage of
the future goes to the company that can correctly anticipate consumer value
and control the
strategic technologies behind them."
The 10-year picture of consumer buying is dependent upon three likely
scenarios that were
generated by Battelle experts using the IFS software. From these
scenarios - which are explained
later in this release - emerges a ranking of the 10 most important drivers
of future consumer
value for such products as appliances, heating and cooling systems, energy
services, home
entertainment and information systems, and other durable products.
The top 10 consumer drivers for the next decade are predicted to be:
1. Highly desirable products. The willingness and ability of consumers,
especially Baby
Boomers and Generation X'ers, along with immigrants, to buy highly
desirable products, which
can be described as products offering features above and beyond those of
current products. The
challenge of companies will be to offer exciting products for
hard-to-please customers in highly
competitive markets.
2. Product-related services. Consumers will want service during and after
the purchase of
items. They may desire the service even more than the product. For example,
households may
pay for the services of digital TV rather than buy new sets. And they will
pay for the comfort of
heating and cooling rather than the equipment that produces it.
3. Superior performance and utility. Quality and functionality will be
extremely important to
consumers, especially Boomers and Generation X'ers. Products will not only
have to meet high
expectations, they will have to exceed them.
4. Safety and health. Boomers will insist on safe and healthy products, and
they will pay more
for products and services that offer good health and an active lifestyle.
The market for nutritional
and wellcare products will expand further. For example, air filtering will
become very
important, especially if active, but safe, agents are used to kill
bacteria, viruses, and spores
rather than just trap particles.
5. Ergonomic comfort and ease of use. Too many household products today are
difficult and
unpleasant to use. Products for chores like cleaning are not very
user-friendly, and need better
angles and pressure points. As they age, Boomers in particular will demand
that products be
comfortable to use.
6. Aesthetics. Product styling will be even more important in the future
than today. Appliances,
for example, will need to have appearances that fit many home decors. They
will also take on
more designer qualities now seen in clothing and bedding. Even furnaces and
air conditioners
will be stylish, particularly if they are integrated into living spaces.
7. Functional integration of products. Today, consumers are their own
systems integrators.
Very few appliances and products are currently linked together. By 2010 we
will see functional
and physical integration of TV, computing, and telecommunications. We will
also see integration
of air and water heating and cooling throughout the house. Imbedded
microprocessors and
"smart" controls will permit extensive appliance networking.
8. Environmental quality. Consumer behavior so far has been inconsistent:
People say that they
want environmentally friendly products, but they are reluctant to pay more
for them. Home water
and air treatment and waste recycling will be much more important by 2010
than they are today.
Generation X'ers and idealistic, but affluent Boomers will drive the demand
for "green" products
and services.
9. Brand name and reputation. Brands will still be important by 2010, but
not if products fail
to meet the first eight value points. Buying decisions on brand identity
alone will decline as
consumers face the multiple buying options provided by both virtual and
physical shopping.
10. The shopping experience, both in person and over the Internet, must be
convenient, speedy,
and entertaining. Speed and convenience will be highly valued by Boomers,
and the
socialization and entertainment benefits of shopping will be highly valued
by Generation X'ers.
This list is dependent upon the outcome of three scenarios, as mentioned
above. The first and
most likely scenario shows strong economic growth and high levels of
consumer spending
generated primarily by Baby Boomers and Generation X'ers. Over the next
decade, 78 million
Boomers will be experiencing their peak earning and spending years,
providing a powerful
thrust for consumer products. These consumers will demand high quality
products with many
features. They also will be able and willing to pay higher prices to get
exactly what they want. In
addition, high levels of immigration will increase the American population
and create a market
for a full spectrum of products.
The second, and least likely, scenario presents a downturn in which
consumers lose the interest
and ability to purchase new items. Consumer confidence will decline and
Boomers will decide
to spend less on products and invest more for their retirement. Generation
X'ers will not replace
the declining number of Boomer consumers, driving down product prices and
In the third scenario, the U.S. will experience continued moderate economic
growth with
Boomers providing the primary consumer leadership. Generation X'ers will
prove to be
conservative spenders. There is some immigration, but not enough to replace
Boomers. Like the
first scenario, successful products will offer exceptional quality with
many features, and higher
Battelle has distributed annual forecasts of future trends, technologies,
and innovative products
since 1995. Copies of past reports can be found under the press release
section of the Battelle
web page at www.battelle.org. For further information on the IFS software
and the scenarios,
contact Dr. Steve Millett at milletts@battelle.org, or Robin Yocum, Manager
of Media Relations
for Battelle, at 614.424.5544 or at yocumr@battelle.org.
Battelle serves industry and government by developing, commercializing and
technology. With a wide range of scientific and technical capabilities,
Battelle puts technology
to work for clients in 30 countries.

Battelle Home
For news release information please call Robin Yocum
(614) 4245544 or email yocumr@battelle.org, other inquiries
call (614) 424-6424
Battelle Memorial Institute 1999. All rights

Peter Anderson
RecycleWorlds Consulting
4513 Vernon Blvd. Ste. 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Phone:(608) 231-1100/Fax: (608) 233-0011