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As a consumer futurist, the most fulfilling part of my work is helping clients position their business for the future, and then seeing those decisions turn to profit. By understanding how consumers’ needs are changing, smart companies can pre-empt tomorrow’s successful trends, and be ready to take advantage of them.

These three trends all offer huge opportunities for businesses whether local or global. Let’s take a look:

Get Some Sleep

Like many things – from Craft to vinyl records – sleep’s becoming more important to us as we see it slip away. Well over a third of Britons now think they get too little sleep. Much of this is due to technology: 60% of Spanish citizens admit to holding their phones as they sleep, and just one in five Germans turns their phone off at night. It’s accelerated by a global rise in economic and political anxiety. Plus, as we try to fill every hour with activity, we’re looking to regain the hours we ‘lose’ to sleep by using it to re – charge.

Sleep’s been proving a style success. From 2009-14 the global nightwear market rose 11% to $29 billion, with another 16% rise predicted by 2019. Selfridges sleepwear sales alone rose 500% since 2011. The global sleep aid products market – bespoke pillows to herbal sleeping tablets – is set to rise 5.6% per year, reaching $77 billion by 2019.

The trend’s now reached the food industry, with new products light enough to eat before sleep, recharge you or help you sleep. In Mexico, Kellogg’s repackaged their All Bran cereal as a night-time snack. Nightfood snack bars in the US include “sleep friendly” ingredients like slow-digesting carbs. Relaxation drinkslike Lidl Spain’s Solevita with Melatonin – are the new energy drinks. Gatorade’s night-time yoghurt – developed to help athletes recover – lets users recharge overnight.

There are many further opportunities. A focus on the bedroom could benefit the homewares and construction sector. Employers will want to improve their employees’ sleep patterns to drive productivity. Leisure venues will offer lucid dreaming and “dream meditation”, with sleep-focused hotels. Dukes Hotel in Mayfair now offers ‘beditation’ and sleep salons like YeloSpa.

(Don’t) Grow Up

Anything popular with children is becoming fair game for today’s stressed-out adults, trying to avoid the ‘seriousness’ of today’s socio political reality.

12 million adult colouring books were sold globally last year: that’s a 1200% increase on the year before. The colouring craze even drove a 26% rise in coloured pencil sales. Meanwhile, since targeting adults, the haunted house industry has reached $300 million worldwide.

The Drink, Shop, Do bar in London gives adults the chance to make pom poms, robots & papier maché monsters. Children’s playgrounds and activity parks – like Jump Street in Colchester – are opened at night for adults. There are even playgrounds for the elderly: Barcelona alone has three hundred. Meanwhile, over half of those reading Young Adult Fiction today are adults.

The trend’s proving popular with celebrities too: manly stars like David Beckham and Brad Pitt have confessed a love for Lego. They’re not the only ones: the Lego movies have proved popular with many over-16s, and there’s now even a global society called AFOL (Adult Fans of Lego).

So where next? One good way to exploit any trend is via premiumisation. Already Vogue has produced high-end colouring books. Another opportunity is Gamification. Instilling an entertainment element into previously ‘serious’ service offerings, for instance, could prove attractive to Kidult customers.

A Brand’s Best Friend

The pet services market has always been strong, but recently it’s risen exponentially. It’s now worth $67 billion in the US and £11 billion in the UK, and predicted to grow another 15% to 2022.

Many businesses might think ‘well that’s the pet market, it doesn’t affect me’. But the truth is, in our era of ‘inconspicuous consumption’ or ‘stealth wealth’, consumers are spending more and more on family and friends: which now increasingly includes their pets. And they’re not just spending on specialist products and services, they’re spending on kids and pet versions of traditional ones. For instance, Nissan have launched a dog-friendly SUV. There are clothes, furniture, spas and wearables for pets. There’s even a cat colonoscopy service.

One area that’s really taken off recently is pet travel. 38% of British vets reported an increase in demand for pet passports last year. 10% of pet owners have now taken their pets on a foreign holiday, and 65% on a UK staycation. Almost half of all dog owners say their dog always influences their choice of holiday destination, driving growth in specialist pet travel websites like BringFido or ‘pet Airbnb’ and Rover.com.

Like Kidulting, the market is rife for premiumisation. Dog owners spend an average of £1,252 per year on their pet. About half of that goes on food, insurance and health, but the rest – a massive £4.6 billion – goes on non-essentials like toys, treats, grooming, clothing and bedding. Even the essentials can be premiumised, as the growth in organic pet food sales indicates. 

Tell us about it

These are exciting times where new opportunities flower with every consumer change. You might already be capitalising on one of these three major trends, either intentionally or by happy accident. If so, I’d love to hear about it:

tweet me @nextbingthingco 

and we can share your story.

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