Europe’s New Consumer Trends

Inevitably, changes in the retail landscape are driven by consumers. These days, savvy shoppers are targeting more novel, higher tech, more agile shopping experiences whenever they can. The smartest retailers and developers are responding rapidly and with purpose.

The Youth Vote

Millennials, while smaller in numbers and slightly different in character in Europe than they are in North America, account for 24% of the population of the EU. Millennials are a vital part of the consumer base, particularly in Germany, the UK and France where they have comparatively strong incomes.

Shopping Makes the Man

Male shoppers are coming out in greater numbers, and their behaviours are starting to mimic those of female shoppers. Even traditionally all-female sectors like beauty and cosmetics are seeing an increasing demand from men who feel more comfortable being conscious of their appearance and high street mainstays, like H&M, have launched collections exclusively for men.

Changing Communities

Behavioural and social change are two pieces of the retail forecast puzzle, but traditional demographics are changing too. Immigration will profoundly impact the populations and economies of European countries in the coming years. By 2030, most of the world’s “super-aged societies” will call Europe home and because of this aging population, Northern and Western Europe expect slow population growth. Over-55s will account for more than half of consumer spending growth in developed markets in the next two decades. This will impact every aspect of retail, from shopping centre design to visual merchandising to something as small as packaging. At the same time, purchasing power is increasing in most countries due to growing economies and falling unemployment.

Younger generations are changing their patterns too. Eurofund reports that half of young adults across Europe now live at home with their parents; that’s a substantial increase from previous generations and is especially common in Italy, Sweden, Denmark, France, Belgium and Austria.

The Digital Switch

Uber, Amazon, Instagram, AirBnB, ZipCar and even concepts like click-and-collect have revolutionised the way we live, shop and communicate. Ubiquitous, high-speed technology has made the “sharing economy” or the “gig economy” an important part of livelihoods across the world, and changing attitudes towards rampant consumerism have led customers to ask more questions of their brands and demand transparency on sourcing, sustainability and ethics.