The emerging trends of 2017 JOIN THE DOTS

For us, consumer trends is all about having a better understanding of changing consumer needs and the opportunities this creates for brands to make consumers happy.

Working across sectors with a vast array of primary and secondary research, our Culture & Trends team have developed a unique model for understanding consumer needs. Grounded in the psychology of happiness and supported by primary research, the model provides us with a unique insight into the consumer mind set.

By profiling our trends we have classified five as ‘emerging’ for 2017. They focus on life now – people are looking for enjoyment in the everyday, because there’s more to life! Consumers are seeking permission to relax, indulge and have more fun. There is a clear move away from the utility and affordability of the recession.

What is interesting is that whilst these five trends are ‘emerging’ for the whole sample, when we look at the results of different demographics, a few of the trends shift.


In our connected lives we are exposed to a mind-dizzying number of messages, images and notifications each day. Dealing with the virtual onslaught takes up our time and is impacting our health and happiness. Whether it’s ad blocking, digital detox or going completely off the grid, we’ll see more people seeking to redress the balance in order to heighten Focus. Consumers are looking at ways of fighting back and protecting themselves against the content avalanche by regaining control of their personal environments. Brands who offer something valuable will be invited into this space; attention will no longer be the priority of those who shout the loudest, but of those who can find the most meaningful connections.

This trend is very interesting once you look at the demographics of the people we surveyed. We can see that all groups feel overwhelmed by the number of messages, adverts, images and notifications they receive each day, with the attitude being felt by more people as the group age increases. However, for once we see the eldest demographic, Baby Boomers, acting upon the attitude more than the other groups, by only giving time to brands who offer something valuable and meaningful. As such this trend could almost be classified as growing for Baby Boomers. Millennials are struggling to act upon the desire, whether that is due to higher/different expectations or a lack of brands they relate to in the market.

Brand Example: Everlane

Clothing brand Everlane are tapping into this trend through their private Instagram account. Users have to request to follow the account, and the company only accepts 100 followers per day – specifically selecting who they follow through their gilded social media shop doors. This allows their bond to be heightened to the selected consumers – providing a more personal and meaningful relationship.


A key aspect of Focus is being in tune with our surroundings. In a world mediated by screens we’re always straddling the online and offline world, not fully engaging with either. As an antidote to this consumers are looking for experiences that are fully immersive and multisensory, that provide escapism, adventure and stories to share. Wonderful experiences that stand out from the everyday. With growing recognition that experiences make us happier than things, brands should look to deliver immersive experiences that fulfil our desire for specialness. They can be online or offline, digitally enabled fantasy or completely natural, it’s the quality and novelty that’s truly important.

Over three quarters of people surveyed agreed that they get more joy from experiences than things. Although Millennials revealed the lowest prevalence to the attitude statement, they have the highest prevalence to the behaviour than the other groups, to the extent that this trend is recategorised as growing amongst Millennials. We can put this shift down to the fact that Millennials see this attitude as a given. There is a huge gap in the market where Gen X and Baby Boomers want to buy into brands that create environments and experiences which capture their full attention.

Brand Example: Backyard Cinema

Backyard Cinema is a theatrical cinema experience, showing a variety of films in iconic, unusual and immersive locations. The brand create sets surrounding the films with props, visuals, actors and live music. Audiences are submerged into ‘other worlds’ – giving them a unique, entirely immersive experience – allowing for complete escapism for a duration of time.


The recession feels like a bad memory, but with the threat of further instability looming large on the horizon, consumers are looking to make the most of now. We’ll see consumers looking to maximise every experience and brand interaction in order to attain a good life. They won’t be content with settling for second best, they’ll be seeking out a little more extravagance, specialness, even luxury. With more money to spend, there are real opportunities for brand who increase Karma by helping people get the most out of life; because who knows what tomorrow might bring.

Over 80% of all people surveyed agreed that it’s important to have fun now whilst times are good. Whilst prevalence to the attitude is similar for all demographics, there is a stepped difference in how well each group is able to buy things that feel extravagant and luxurious. Half of the Millennials with a desire for the good life are achieving it, whilst only a quarter of Baby Boomers are, with Gen X somewhere in the middle. This may be because Millennials are easily pleased and more appreciative of luxury items. The definition of luxury also changes as we get older – Millennials may consider a nice plate as luxury, whereas Baby Boomers desire an expensive car. There is a clear opportunity for brands to help Baby Boomers and Gen X in particular buy products and services that make them feel special.

Brand Example: Refuge by Volta

Refuge by Volta is a casual dining restaurant but with grande dining decoration and atmosphere. The restaurant provides the feeling of ‘Living the Good Life’, through the fine dining experience, without the price tag or formal attire associated with it – opening the opportunity for more people to have an extravagant experience.


Consumers have learned to seek out speed and convenience, and in doing so have gained time, but there is only so much time available to us. Now we’re seeing needs shift from gaining time to making the most of every minute we have. Everything we do must be a good use of our precious time. Content needs to be short, clicks few and gratification instant; boredom and inconvenience will not be tolerated. This desire to maximise the quality of our time is creating opportunities for brands who place as much value on customers’ time as they do, helping them to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Over 80% of all people surveyed agreed that they value time as much as money. Around half of all Millennials and Gen X who did so are managing to act upon it, by refusing to waste time on brands that are slow, boring or inconvenient. Fewer Baby Boomers are achieving the same, representing a large opportunity for brands that can save people time or ensure that time spent is done so very wisely.

Brand Example: BBC Four Goes Slow

BBC Four’s ‘BBC Four Goes Slow’ is a release of long form programmes which encourage consumers to ‘slow down the pace, sit back, relax and enjoy the collection of deliberately unhurried programmes’. The programmes range from listening to the sounds of spring, to watching the time-consuming process of creating a chair. They lack excitement, thrills, plot or heavy editing, and instead they’re long, calming and require minimal attention or effort to stay engaged.


Having positive social relationships are critical for wellbeing. Humans are social creatures, we feel happier just being around people. Post-recession there is greater demand for shared experiences, ways to connect up with others and enjoy good times with good people. Experiences are more likely to make us happy than material goods. This is because experiences strengthen relationships, they bring us closer to other people and they make better conversation than talking about things. Brands can help by providing the setting and frameworks for us to come together, to play, have fun, share stories and overcome our social awkwardness for mutual benefit.

Nearly three quarters of Millennials surveyed agree that the best times they have are with other people. Over half of these engage with brands that facilitate this attitude, allowing them to connect with others over a shared passion, so much so that Shared Experience reclassifies as a growing trend for this demographic. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement by brands. Fewer Gen X and Baby Boomers agree with the attitude statement for this trend, however, for those that do acknowledge it, there is very little opportunity to act upon it. There is a huge opportunity here for brands to facilitate shared interests and activities amongst Gen X and Baby Boomers!

Brand Example: Airbnb Experiences

Airbnb Experiences allows travellers to take part in local travel experiences, all hosted by locals. This allows people to bond with locals and meet new friends in a designated environment – relieving the awkwardness of discovering a new country. Getting beyond the tourist experience, this taps into the consumer need to meet new people, learn about other cultures and build more genuine human connections.


By observing over 40,000 consumers and exploring our happiness trends across 30 online research communities, we have seen that not all trends are equal. Some are ‘bigger’ and the need is felt by more consumers, whilst others are smaller and more emerging.

Each trend resonates differently with different demographic groups. In addition, they are more and less prevalent in different sectors. In recognition of this, we have recently quantified and profiled our happiness trends for the first time.

To do this we ran a nationally representative online survey with 2000 people from across the UK. Each trend had an attitude and behaviour statement attached to it, which tested the desire and ability to act upon a trend.


To find out more about our happiness trends email Kelly McKnight, Head of Culture & Trends:

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.