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FEBRUARY 27, 2018 //     

Consumer spending in 2018: Where are we splashing the cash?

By Sian Hobday


After a well-documented challenging Christmas period for many brands in 2017 the purse strings are tightening, so spotting the hot areas of consumer spending and where the opportunities lie for brands in 2018 is very important.

It’s no secret that high-street shopping and consumer spending have been in tricky waters for some time now, and the latest data from Visa showed that UK consumer spending in January fell for the first time in five years, despite the draw of sales. Shoppers just don’t like going out in the cold and prefer the comfort and warmth of their living rooms and iPad.

Miscellaneous goods, including things like health, beauty, and jewellery also performed well in January, seeing an increase of 6.1% in January, suggesting that small products were preferred over big-ticket items. Transport and comms suffered the most, however.

Market challenges: the high-street battle

The online vs bricks and mortar saga continues to roll on into 2018 as we have already seen the likes of Toys R Us making headlines as it faces bankruptcy, but online sales are performing well.

One solution that seems to be succeeding with Londoners is turning in-store shopping into entertainment experiences. It’s not just about offering the latest toy or gadget at a good price (though pricing is obviously an important factor as many online alternatives offer competitive rates), it’s about offering experiences to consumers when they come to shop. Things that have proven popular so far include celebrity meet and greets, and in-store fitness classes.

In 2017, Barclaycard revealed that consumers were happy to spend more on entertainment and experiences, as Brits coughed up 10.5% more than before. This shopping experience trend is proving to be a winner for retailers where fine margins are everything: retailers enjoyed a 14% increase Year on Year in 2017 as a result.

Did someone say Brexit? GDPR?

These two factors will undoubtedly have an impact on UK retailers, the service they provide and how they market themselves to consumers, ultimately affecting where money gets spent. How customer data is collected and used will be impacted, and it remains to be seen how the Brexit deal will change retail spending and consumer confidence.

Tech consumer spending trends

So, in the tech market, where will shoppers are looking to spend their pennies? What markets should brands be looking out for?

Smart home

Smart home technology has become the new must-have tech. As the smartphone market begins to level out, tech giants are battling it out in the smart home world, continuously innovating to become top dog.

It’s not just early tech adopters or the more enthusiastic tech folk that are buying them either. Smart home speakers, heating and lighting have become much more mainstream as the tech develops and becomes more affordable. After a slow start, consumers are seeing the reality and benefits of a connected smart home. According to GfK, 25% of us own a smart home device, leaving plenty of opportunities for brands to stake a claim to a piece of the market.

Wireless tech: headphones and chargers

Upon taking a closer look at the wireless headphone market, it is clear it’s enjoying major growth. 15% of the headphones and mobile stereo headsets sold in H1 2017 were Bluetooth-enabled (GfK).

Positive music experiences are becoming more important in general. The increasing use of smartphones for streaming music, movies and watching funny videos from friends on Instagram is driving growth in this area. Furthermore, the health and fitness trend means people are looking for wire-free, hassle-free headphones to listen to their favourite workout tunes.

With this increased use of mobile streaming, battery life is being gobbled up even more. In steps the wireless charger. Global Market Insights expect the market to hit $14bn by 2024 as people look to stay fully charged whilst on the go, and phone manufacturers continue to work on improving battery life.

Whilst inflation, market uncertainty, and pressures may continue to dent consumer confidence and overall spending, there are still plenty of opportunities for tech brands in 2018, as consumer choices of where to spend their hard-earned cash evolves.

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