In a world filled with stress and fatigue, our personal sense of well being and our desire for a balanced life are priorities that matter to Americans of all ages, says Arylessence TrendWatch, a comprehensive analysis of U.S. consumer attitudes, beliefs and buying behaviors. As baby boomers worry about living well while growing older and younger Americans are concerned about getting good jobs and keeping them, the steps people take to restore, recharge and refresh—physically and emotionally—are critical to achieving and sustaining a better life.
"Consumers are telling us that changing the world is a huge challenge," says Arylessence president Steve Tanner. "But each of us has the power to create change in our own lives so we can live better, live happier and enjoy a balanced life."
This focus on self-awareness and "self-nurturing" among millions of Americans is one of seven major trends identified by Arylessence that depict the diversity of the American consumer landscape and offer marketers new creative pathways for brand and product development.
"Fragrance connects to more than our sense of smell," says Lori Miller Burns, Arylessence director of marketing, leader of the TrendWatch study. "Fragrance connects to our sense of who we are and what we believe about ourselves and the world around us. Our study shows that Americans have very clear ideas about what matters, and, importantly, how they prefer to live and enjoy their lives."
Seven definitive trends
Also ranking in the Arylessence TrendWatch study is the consumer's desire for romance and make-believe. Hollywood escapism is not only a traditional part of American culture; but big-screen dreams also seriously influence what people buy, how they dress and how they spend their time.
"We are trained by Hollywood to expect romance and fantasy in our lives," says Miller Burns. "As human beings, we seek to make those desires real. In our challenging world, romantic themes and sensory experiences provide a welcome escape and have never been more relevant for consumers."
Five additional consumer trends highlighted in the study include:
Past Forward—Reflected by television shows like Mad Men (early 1960s), Boardwalk Empire (1920s) and Downton Abbey (turn of last century), retro style is pulled into the future by fashion designers, creative directors and editors.
Global Fusions—America's growing interest in the styles and tastes of cultures around the world, including South America, Indonesia, India, and China, continues to influence fashion, foods, fabrics, cuisine, music, art and design.
Local Cravings—The mainstream consumer's passion for fresh, organic and natural foods that are locally sourced, sold and consumed is making small growers and artisanal producers the new food celebrities.
Good Causes—Americans continue to believe in companies and brands that give back to the community, care about the world and make change happen.
New Values—Price always matters, but today's consumers also want design, technology and performance in private label and store brands that previously depended solely on price.
Aligning with consumer trends
Developing fragrances and flavors that align with consumer trends helps marketers to develop products that connect faster, in more meaningful ways.
"When you know what consumers think and believe, and see how they are spending their money, you have important clues to shape the future of your brand," says Miller Burns. "Fragrances and flavors can reflect the tastes and emotions that are actually driving consumer decision making across multiple categories."
Study of consumer behavior
Arylessence TrendWatch is conducted by continuing factor analysis of 35 published sources, editorial features in print and online, and consumer buying decisions. Trends in foods, beverages, ingredients, cuisine and menus are also analyzed. Data is collected and assembled by a team of five researchers, patterns are identified and the trends defined.
"We study everything, every day of the year," says Miller Burns. "We watch closely what is happening in fashion, beauty and cosmetics, fabrics and textiles, color, and home décor. When consumers actually do something—like buying a new outfit, changing their fine fragrance or painting a room—that is what we are looking for. Actions speak louder than words."
Arylessence perfumers, flavorists and evaluators use trend data to design fragrances and flavors that connect with consumers, bring trend themes to life, and give marketers a competitive edge.