Welcome to the first in our brand new “First Tuesday” feature. On the first Tuesday of every month we will feature a one-on-one discussion with a person behind one of the previous month’s Best of the Business Web e-letter selections that we feel would be particularly interesting to talk to.
For this initial interview, we have chosen Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, a consultant at the global market research firm Euromonitor and author of a recently released 35 page study titled “TOP 10 GLOBAL CONSUMER TRENDS FOR 2015.” We highlighted that report as a selection in our last month's February 2015 Best of the Business Web issue.
Kasriel-Alexander is based in the U.K. and we spoke to her via Skype this afternoon. Below is an edited summary of our discussion.
Q. Thanks for taking the time to do this Daphne. I’d like to begin by asking you a bit about yourself—where you grew up, your professional background, and your current work at Euromonitor.
A. Well, I grew up in London, and earned a BSc in Philosophy and Social Sciences there from City University as well as a Diploma in Community Journalism. That led to my work in issue led communications work at various NGOs and charities. Eventually I moved to Greece where I got a job at an English-language newspaper, which eventually led to doing strategic communications work with the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Program, and a range of organizations ranging from the Gilo Centre for Citizenship to the European Commission’s Leonardo da Vinci lifelong training program to the British Council.
I have been with Euromonitor for almost 8 years now, where as a consultant I work with a team of analysts around the globe. These analysts are not typical marketers, but are a diverse group with backgrounds ranging from biotechnology to journalism. That kind of team creates a global outlook and serves to enrich our reporting.
Q. Have you written the past versions of the trends report, or is this your first time?
A. I have done it for a few years. I think it offers a really good overview for people who can’t read all of our materials. To create this report, I identify trends and how to look at different facets of them and do my secondary research. I also incorporate selected interesting insights from our consumer content and Euromonitor’s own data as well.
Q. Do you have a certain approach or philosophy you take when you begin your secondary research?
A. No methodology per se. I read quite broadly and think about things quite a lot.
But of course I have developed filters to guide me. For example, in the talkbalks (comments), I try to notice interesting things—for example all this discussion about the color of “the dress”—and then try to figure out how these discussions are impacting consumption. I try to discern the broad cultural trends and analyze how they influence what people are buying or not buying. These kinds of larger trends should inform a business’s choice of strategy whenever considering launching something new or launching into new markets
Q. Let’s talk about some of the specific content in the report itself now. Clearly millennials and how they make purchasing decisions has been and still is a very hot topic. What are some interesting trends that you are seeing here?
A. Millennials need to be paid close attention to as they are tomorrow’s consumers, and have special characteristics and habits. For instance, they are used to getting things for free. They are media savvy and know how to filter out messages, including ads, they find uninteresting or irrelevant. And there’s no hard divide between work and leisure—so they don’t always follow traditional rules in the workplace. They have a tendency to share, and employ a collective approach to problem solving.
As a group, they also have tended to delay’s life milestones—which is why some have also called this group Generation Pause. This has created headaches for brands.
Q. How much is the Great Recession of 2008 still reverberating in how we all consume?
A. It has left a very interesting legacy. For one, it’s now OK to be thrifty and frugal. We used to be embarrassed at trying to save money, but now we may boast at how little something costs. That doesn’t mean we are still not looking for value and durability and quality. Another thing the recession did was to kick start the sharing economy. It’s okay now to not buy, but to share.
Q. How do you distinguish a true and long lasting trend from a passing fad or blip?
A. I may have to take risks in naming trends, but I try to step back and put things into a broader context. For example, one section of the report looks at “vloggers” (video bloggers), but I don’t call that a trend itself, but rather view it as part of a larger one I call: “Influencers: More Like Us”.
Q. Do you see any brand new signals that emerged after your research was completed, that you think might turn into a full-fledged trend?
A. Ahh, that is part of my secret collection for next year! Seriously, though, first of course it never is possible to cover all trends in a single report, and there are things I did not cover this year that perhaps will make it to next year’s report such as parenting related issues and time as a precious and luxury good. But one new phenomenon I find particularly interesting, and which I’ve written about is that not only are consumers rating companies, but some brands, say Uber and Airbnb are starting to rate consumers. This is changing the way reviews are being written and is something I’m watching closely.
To download a free copy of the trends report, link to: http://go.euromonitor.com/white-paper-top-10-global-consumer-trends-2015.html