Consumers Will Be Choosing Quality Over Quantity in 2025

It may just be the beginning for "stealth wealth" and "recession-core," if WGSN's latest Future Consumer report is anything to go by.

WGSN is giving us a sneak peek into shoppers of the future. On Wednesday, the industry-leading trend forecasting service released its Future Consumer 2025 report; now in its eighth year, the report is touted as the company's "flagship white paper."

The report aims to summarize signals of change that influence consumer behavior. Based upon six weeks of intensive research, its analysis revealed four key consumer profiles, as well as strategies for businesses to engage with these groups effectively. And one resounding conclusion is that, come 2025 (and perhaps sooner), consumers will prioritize quality over quantity more than ever. Function will also be a top concern.

One of the consumer profiles, nicknamed "the Time Keepers," for instance, views time as their most valuable resource. Creating meaningful memories is more important than material possessions for them and, according to the report, "quality will always beat quantity for these consumers, and they're more interested in acquiring lasting memories than material possessions." In terms of buying habits, these folks are looking for time-effective goods that help free them from full-time commitments.

WGSN also profiled the "Pioneers," who are equally as steeped in the digital world as they are the physical. They are future thinkers interested in new technology, entrepreneurial strategies and the metaverse. The Pioneers desire products that enable them to move freely between the physical and digital realms and "more personalised products and services that will be loved for longer and wasted less."

Environmental impact is also a top concern of most of these future consumer types. Take the "Reductionists," who reject over-consumption. They're aware of the textile industry's impact on climate change and 64% actively support local businesses. Meanwhile, the "New Nihilists" are "looking for happiness outside of mainstream." Of this group, over 45% report that thinking about climate change negatively affects their daily life and functioning.

A desire for long-lasting, thoughtfully designed, functional products makes sense, given where we're heading environmentally. "We're facing cascading and unprecedented challenges as a planet," says Carla Buzasi, President & CEO of WGSN. "So it's never been more important to understand the fears, desires and challenges of consumers and deliver products that will make a real difference to their lives."

WGSN suggests four "strategies for success" with these future consumer groups, one of which is, "offer quality over quantity."

"We are oversaturated with choice, even as it becomes clear that our world cannot sustain our demand for its resources," the report reads. "To stand out, you need to offer something better, not just something more, and you need to be clear with consumers about how your products and services will add value and enrichment to their lives."

These findings are consistent with trends we've already begun seeing in the fashion industry, most notably a shift towards timeless, functional, wearable pieces rather than the flash-in-the-pan trendy items proliferated by fast fashion. A major through-line among the Fall 2023 shows was "stealth wealth" or "quiet luxury," meaning clothes that don't ostentatiously advertise their value, relying instead on high-level fabric and/or construction to convey quality. The latest collections from PradaBottega Veneta, Jil Sander and Loro Piana offered especially great examples of this. It also aligns with the rising trend of "recession-core," a new age of classic, minimalist dressing amid economic turmoil; this season, there has been a noticeable lack of flashy jewelry worn by celebrities on the red carpet, signaling a rejection of immediate symbols of excess, money or trendiness.

Could this spell trouble for fast-fashion businesses and others trading on flashy statement items? We'll see.

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