Power to the People

Brands are shifting to a new model of consumer-as-co-creator, where consumers are actively shaping the brands they love with their dollars and voices. Brands are embracing this by inviting consumers into product development processes and leveraging NFTs for consumers to invest in and shape the brand's direction. In the future, brands will cater to the niche identities of loyal consumer investors, fragmenting into smaller units and being guided by their activist consumers. Advances in technology will also lead to increased personalization, with people's products reflecting their attitudes and beliefs.

This trend originates from the report:

MINTEL - Global Consumer Trends

Brands have to make room for a new ‘c’ in their c-suite: consumers. Brands can step back and allow consumers to be the creative center of innovation. Consumers are shaping brands with their dollars and their voices.

This idea goes beyond brands conceding that ‘the customer is always right’ and is evolving into a model where consumers are investing, co-creating and voting for change alongside brands. Responding to this demand requires brands to listen from the backseat while keeping one foot on the gas to create market innovation. Companies are adapting to a new model of consumer as co-creator.

Popular social platforms like TikTok prioritize self-expression, driving consumers to develop and showcase their creativity across beauty, home and food. Brands are harnessing this creative spirit by inviting outside perspectives into their product development processes. To showcase their commitment to collaboration, many brands are emphasizing creative positions within their organization that are often filled (even if symbolically) by celebrities, influencers, kids or everyday product users.

Brands can encourage consumers to be the creative centre of product innovation and highlight how new products and services are the results of user feedback. Companies can leverage emerging social platforms to interact with brand champions and gather information on how their products are used, perceived and talked about. NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and Web3 communities are opening up new channels for consumers to invest in brands.

The novelty of NFTs is waning, but the utility of these digital assets is growing. Brands are using NFTs as a way for consumers to own a piece of a brand and directly connect them with a brand’s overall success and growth. Beyond just collectables, brands are designing NFTs that, when purchased, offer entry into rewards programmes, membership clubs and even profit sharing.

NFT holders are given early access to new product information, votingrights and essentially a seat at the table. In these ways, over the next two years, expect to see digital assets become a point of entry for action-oriented consumers who want to help shape the direction of the brands they love. In the next five years, brands will increasingly cater to the niche identities of loyal consumer investors, fragmenting large, legacy brands into smaller, more targeted business units.

For consumers, a new era of social signaling will emerge as they feel more intertwined with the ethics of the brands in which they’re invested. What people wear, eat and drive won’t just signal status, but will be a detailed account of their attitudes and beliefs. Advances in technology that allow for extreme personalisation across categories will leave less room for mass market products to drive collective appeal.

When brands find themselves navigating controversial issues, they will have a roadmap to follow, guided by the activist consumers they serve..