Our annual Future Consumer white paper focuses on how you can keep pace in an ever-changing world without running out of steam. After months of rigorous research, the WGSN Insight team has identified four consumer sentiments for 2024, which have been distilled into four consumer profiles: the Regulators, the anti-hustle culture Connectors, the Memory Makers, and the tech-optimistic New Sensorialists. What unites these four cohorts is a shared need for realignment – with themselves, their world and the planet.
Read on to discover your future consumers of 2024 and the world of tomorrow.
01 The Regulators
After years of uncertainty and seismic change, this cohort relies on consistency as a survival mechanism.
Change-averse and overwhelmed by data smog, Regulators want a healthy work-life balance and desire frictionless commerce to maintain control – and Gen X in particular wants to be in control.
People’s ability to cope with uncertainty is on a spectrum, and in 2024, a key challenge for Regulators will be how to stay in charge of their lives. Knowing what is ahead (good or bad) will help them prepare and gain a sense of control in the chaos.
This will be particularly true for Gen X. The generation known for grunge, the Riot Grrrl movement and a general disdain for authority is now made up of ‘control freaks’, which makes sense, as this small but mighty generation is now in control. Currently in their 40s to mid-50s, Gen Xers are now the responsible ones – they are the heads of households, and the majority of executive-level positions are held by members of this group. In 2019, 68% of CEOs in the US – in both Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 companies – were Gen X, and it is a safe bet that the stats have grown since then.
While they are no strangers to uncertainty, Gen Xers are no longer motivated by chaos and disruption as they approach new life stages; these things are now detractors from the life they want to enjoy.
02 The Connectors
Connectors are determined to rewrite the rules of entrepreneurship and fractional living.
This cohort is taking a stance against hustle culture, but not in a lazy way. They are exploring fractional lifestyles (such as co-buying and subscription models), and they are quitting their jobs as they redefine the meaning of success.
Younger generations are having fewer children, opting for roommates over relationships, and job-hopping or quitting at record rates. Meanwhile, economists, executives and journalists are reporting that sales are down because Millennials and Gen Z aren’t spending enough. In reality, we are at the intersection of major value shifts across the world, as well as a lack of social services, rising inflation and low wages. For the Connectors, it’s a perfect storm.
Economic crises are periods of ‘creative destruction’ where new ideas and ways of doing business come to the fore. For the Connectors, this is resulting in entrepreneurship: a record 1.4m business applications were filed in the US in 2021, and India became the third-largest startup ecosystem behind the US and China. However, it's the new work-life set-ups created by this cohort that will likely have the biggest impact on the world.
03 The Memory Makers
Post-lockdown feelings of guilt and remorse are being transformed into action, with a focus on decluttering lives and redefining family values.
In 2024, the Memory Makers will transform a quest for perfection into a quest for being present by decluttering their social and work lives, and investing in time abundance.
We have moved from unprecedented times to trying times, and now we are all trying to make the most of time. For the Memory Makers, the coping mechanism has been to anchor themselves to the past because the past doesn't change – it is stable.
For many who have turned to the past as a respite from recent turmoil, feelings of remorse and guilt have come to the forefront, including lockdown remorse as people ruminated on their life choices. This emotional stress will drive this cohort to focus on making up for lost time, and even lost memories, as they reset and re-evaluate how they want to live their lives.
04 The New Sensorialists
Don’t be mistaken – these tech optimists aren’t living life behind a VR headset. Quite the opposite.
Get ready for the New Sensorialists’ energy in 2024. While some cohorts are taking a cautious approach to the Everything Net (where physical and digital realities are interconnected), the New Sensorialists are flocking to it faster than a TikTok reel. This group is the quintessential hybrid consumer. They will pay with crypto while dining in-person. They will unlock meta rewards to be used for real-life products. They will invest in NFT artwork to be displayed in their homes. They are not fearful of tech; they are hopeful about it.
As society pushes further into the metaverse, as crypto becomes more widely accepted, and as more people embrace the concept of a ‘digital twin’, there will be a growing demand for what Web3 can offer, driving plenty of new opportunities for the New Sensorialists.
What are the best strategies to engage with tomorrow’s consumers? Free to download now, our Future Consumer 2024 white paper outlines the actions needed right now to ensure your brand creates products that these consumer profiles will prioritise.