What You Need to Know About Consumers in 2024

By Matt Smith, Trends Manager at GWI

Our recent research report, Connecting the Dots, highlights the key behaviours, preferences, and values that, as an advertiser, you need to know ahead of 2024. From changing media habits, to a shift in dietary changes, and an upTik in baby boomers on TikTok, this article gives you a run down on everything you need to know as we head into the new year.

Veganism ain’t so hot anymore

The popularity of vegan diets has stuttered. In Europe, the number of consumers claiming to be vegan has dropped by 29% since Q3 2021, and Interest in vegan food has declined in 43 of the 47 markets we’ve tracked since Q2 2021. So, why the shift? Of course, the cost-of-living crisis has had an impact. Europeans who expect their personal finances to worsen in the next 6 months, the number identifying as vegan has seen a drop of 21%, while this figure has risen for those who expect to see finances improve. Another factor is a decline in the ‘sustainability effect’. The number of UK consumers who feel it’s important to have sustainable food products has dropped by 12% since 2021, and the expectation for brands to be eco-friendly (-11%) and socially responsible (-10%) has fallen in this time period. Consumers want to be more flexible in their diet as a result, and chop and change food habits when it suits their wallets. The number of flexitarians has increased by 13% YoY across Europe. As an advertiser, it’s important for you to be mindful of these changes in consumer priorities and understand the impact this has on purchase behaviours in future.

Baby boomers offer brands more bang for their buck

While Gen Z is the hot new generation on the block which all advertisers want to understand, maybe they’re underestimating some of the older generations. Baby boomers represent a lucrative and increasingly accessible market and an untapped opportunity for a lot of brands. The oldest generation we survey has increased their online footprint significantly: average daily mobile time has increased 2.8x since 2013, while time on social media has increased +68%. In the UK, there has been a 47% rise in this generation using TikTok in the last two years. And surprisingly, they’re more likely to have bought a product or service online in the last week than Gen Z. What’s more, baby boomers are more likely to be in the top purchasing power bracket. 43% of boomers who save say their current financial reserves would cover their basic living expenses for 6 months or more, compared to 18% of Gen Z. So if you’re not already, it’s time to pay attention and target campaigns towards baby boomers, rather than just focussing on the younger consumer groups.

The media’s got a growing authenticity problem

We’ve heard the term “fake news” thrown around since way back in the mid 2010s, but the mistrust of the media has spread beyond far American republicans. Of 20+ news services tracked between 2017-2020, the number of global consumers saying they were trustworthy or accurate was generally in decline. Consumers are continually shifting to socials for information, with 30% of UK social media users saying they mainly use these platforms to read news stories. On TikTok specifically, those who report using the app to keep up-to-date with the news has risen by 72% in the last two years, and 40% across Europe as a whole. This change in preferences and behaviour presents a clear opportunity for you to reach audiences via social platforms. However, it’s important to also consider the values consumers are aligning to here – trust is paramount and so you need to ensure your ads reflect this. Transparency, authenticity, and relevancy are key.

Short-form video is changing sports

Short-form isn’t going anywhere. TikTok is a mainstay for the screen time of scrollers, young and old, and it’s disrupted the way we think about media. One industry it’s changing is sports. Professional leagues have been forced to adapt to the fact that many social media users are looking to get their sporting fix from short, bitesize clips on vertical video platforms. Niche sports, especially combat sports, have seen a rise in engagement since 2022 in the UK, with the number of consumers who say they follow wrestling (+18%), boxing (+10%) and martial arts (+9%) having grown. Followers of wrestling and martial arts also rank in the UK’s top 5 for having consumed a short-form video on Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, or Snapchat Spotlight in the last month, and for saying they mainly use social media to watch or follow sports. These organisations have invested in their social strategy, and it’s paid off: UFC and WWE have more TikTok followers than the NFL or Premier League. This  shareable and rewatchable content is key to driving engagement. In the year ahead, you should ensure your ad campaigns are easily digestible and tailored to this audience.

Looking ahead to 2024

As you prepare for 2024, it’s important to understand what will be front of mind for consumers. By reflecting their interests, thoughts, feelings, and concerns in your ad strategies, you will be best placed to resonate with consumers and align with the trends that are set to dominate the year ahead.