Now in its eighth annual edition, WGSN’s Future Consumer 2025, the flagship white paper from WGSN Insight, aims to decode the signals of change that are influencing future consumer behavior. In its analysis, which included six weeks of intensive research, the company breaks down four key profiles, what each cohort values as we move toward 2025 and strategies for engaging.
The first profile is called the New Nihilists, a group that is opting out of the world’s turmoil but hasn’t given up caring. This group is finding new meaning and happiness outside the mainstream. Defining qualities of these consumers include being contemplative, non-conformist, alternative thinkers and seeking meaning.
Drivers for the New Nihilists include inflation concerns with 57 percent feeling overwhelmed by the cost-of-living crisis, disillusionment with 55 percent of global Millennials in their mid-30s reporting being dissatisfied with democracy and eco-anxiety with more than half of young people (age 16 to 25) reporting they feel sad, anxious, powerless, helpless and guilty about climate change. Experts from WGSN say the best way to gain the trust of the New Nihilists is by using honesty, authenticity and humor — they don’t want to feel like they are being sold to.
WGSN’s second profile is the Reductionists. This group has embraced digital convenience and remote living during the pandemic and are looking to reestablish in-person connections and communities with a more human touch. Defining qualities include being busy, values-driven, community-focused and connection-seeking. Reductionists prioritize kindness and integrity and are likely to be found supporting ethical businesses.
Since the Reductionists are rejecting over-consumption with 60 percent saying they estimate the rise in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 due to global textiles production and 64 percent actively supporting local businesses, WGSN experts advise embracing this group’s desire for connection through human touch in a service or an emotional touch through storytelling. These consumers need to know that a company’s values align with theirs.
Similarly to the Reductionists, WGSN’s third profile, the Time Keepers, are thinking about their values. This group is made up of memory-makers who see time as the most valuable resource, and they want to invest time in things that will make their lives richer. Defining qualities include being discerning, epicurean, age-agnostic and seeking enrichment.
Time Keepers are likely to be found enjoying slow cooking, long-form reading or an adventurous outing on an extra day off from their four-day work week. Seventy-nine percent of this group say wellness is important and 42 percent consider it a top priority. Time Keepers also show a desire for inclusivity with 58 percent of Gen X and Boomer consumers reporting they don’t see their age group represented at scale in fashion marketing.
These consumers are looking for services that free up time and show interest in rental or fractional ownership models that free them from full-time commitments. WGSN experts note in their report that these consumers want freedom and flexibility and are drawn to things that will add value to their world.
WGSN’s final profile is the Pioneers. These consumers are compared to lightbulbs because they need to be switched on. “The Pioneers are movers, shakers and opportunity-makers who thrive on change and new ideas.” Their interest can be sparked with new ideas and problem-solving products that make physical and virtual worlds better for all. Defining qualities include being entrepreneurial, mercurial, risk-taking and inspiration seeking.
Digital twin technology, building better spaces, the metaverse and gaming are all of interest to Pioneer consumers, who WGSN experts say are likely to be found combining leisure activities with serious intent. Pioneers are looking for solutions that will change the world and WGSN advises they will be inspired by new ideas and smart designs or anything that seamlessly connects physical with virtual worlds.
As companies look to take these consumer behaviors and profiles into planning for the future, WGSN advises taking in four overall strategies including taking the pressure off in a polycrisis, building on connections and communities, offering quality over quantity and helping people switch modes.