Welcome to the Boomaissance: Mindshare North America Releases New Culture Vulture Trends Report

From the Informal Normal to 21st Century Success, New Mindshare NA Research Reveals Crucial Consumer and Media Insights for Brands

NEW YORK—January 26, 2017 – It’s time to reject FOMO and embrace Borecore, along with mindfulness apps, myth debunking, and a shift in focus away from Millennials. Mindshare North America's annual Culture Vulture Trends report is here, unveiling the latest consumer shifts and cultural trends forecast to grow over the next year.

Mindshare NA, the global media agency network that is part of WPP, uses a proprietary research approach for Culture Vulture in addition to third party resources (such as government data and behavioral research). The proprietary research includes a survey of 2,000 North American consumers. Now in its sixth year, the annual report does a deep dive into behavioral trends and insights—spanning demographic shifts, media consumption, sociological insights, and much more – including the role for brands. Culture Vulture is led by Mindshare NA's Insights group, dedicated to uncovering and leveraging consumer insights for clients and teams across North America.

The full 2017 report, which features marketing implications and recommendations, can be found here:

A top-line overview of this year's top 10 trends and insights are below.

I. Tapped Out. We’re on a treadmill that never stops: 67% of Americans say they’re so busy that they can’t finish everything they need to do in a day.[1] But productivity and growth is plateauing for a number of categories in the economy. And our time with existing media and technology platforms is reaching saturation too —for example, smartphone adoption and the average number of apps used each month has slowed to single digit growth.[2] To grow, brands need to get ahead of emerging platforms and categories before those become tapped out as well.

II. The Boomaissance. While the media remains smitten with Millennials, it’s the Boomers who control 70% of the disposable income in this country.[3] The tide is turning—older is becoming cooler as Boomers take on a “Middle Aged Millennial” mindset, driving growth across e-commerce, social media, the gig economy, and more. From OldChella to the Freebird Club (an AirBnB for empty nesters), more and more companies are starting to cater to the needs of this audience.

III. 21st Century Success. The U.S. now has two definitions of the American Dream. For many (e.g. first generation immigrants), the traditional one remains (such as going to college and owning a home).  For others, success has a new meaning—less about the size of the bank account or brands you wear. It’s about time for self-development and the pursuit of personal passions. And as people seek out a different type of fulfillment, companies like Amazon and Netflix are testing out 30-hour work weeks and flexible parental leave to help. 

IV. Unmasking Unicorns. With the influx of contradictory information spread on digital channels, it’s become harder than ever to decipher what’s true and what’s not. It’s not just political myths either—it’s time for brands to challenge the false assumptions being made around demographics and media consumption, from the angsty, rebellious teenager (they’re more responsible today than ever before) to the death of print (there’s been a resurgence in book sales) and more.

V. My World / The World. There’s a widening gulf between people’s perceptions of their individual lives (85% of adults say that they’re satisfied with their personal life[4]), versus how they feel about the world overall (only 29% of Americans are satisfied with the U.S.’s direction).[5] As consumers become less trusting of institutions and mass media, brands are finding creative, humorous ways to cut the tension and play in both worlds.

VI. Mind(ful) Optimization. As humans, we’re more prone to anxiety than happiness. But what about distraction? While stress levels are declining, people are seeking new tactics and solutions to provide them with purpose and mindfulness. And although 45% of Americans try to unplug from technology once a week[6] for that very reason, apps like Headspace and things like guided VR meditation are providing new ways for people to achieve that goal as well.

VII. Land of the Giants. From airlines to entertainment to agriculture, M&A has created corporate giants that dominate their respective categories. And technology giants in particular now rule the world. Companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are cash rich and moving into everything from fashion to transportation to delivery – once the sole domain of retailers, carmakers and our friendly UPS guy. Fighting back? Niche brands. Craft beers and gourmet burger joints are snatching share from global brands like Budweiser and McDonald’s.

VIII. The Informal Normal. We’re playing it casual, at work and with friends. Millennials are leading the way with two-thirds cursing at work[7] and half becoming Facebook friends with their boss.[8] Teens are shifting from glammed-up, pretentious selfies to fun and quirky filters, changing the overall aesthetic of social media. And as more and more American traditions become relaxed, individuality is bubbling forth and brands are stepping up.

IX. Borecore. We’re not as interesting as we think we are. Most of our lives are uneventful, and these days you’re just as likely to see people post on social about bingeing on Netflix as they are about going to the latest clubs. Brands can use boring content to be different and grab consumers’ attention—like the viral six-hour Periscope stream of a puddle in England or the popular Life of Norman subreddit (chronicling a man who watches re-reruns of CSI).

X. Open Lives. From livestreaming to ambient listening (e.g. Amazon Echo), our lives are more open and exposed to the world than ever before—particularly as AI and machine learning platforms learn more of our habits. And consumers are okay with that, but only if they trust the brand and feel some sense of control.  To prevent hostility and backlash, brands have started to combat some of the negative consequences of being too open – for example, Instagram and Twitter added features to block and remove unwanted comments and users.

Culture Vulture is Mindshare's global cultural trends program that sets out to identify macro and micro trends that impact the marketing and communications strategies of the agency's clients.  The North American version utilizes a Mindshare proprietary survey, Mindshare's proprietary network of leading edge consumers in cities across North America, and third party resources (including government data, syndicated sources and behavioral data).

For more consumer trends and insights throughout the year, check out Mindshare NA's accompanying Culture Vulture video series.

[1] Source:  MRI Doublebase

[2] Source:  eMarketer, Nielsen

[3] Source:  Nielsen

[4] Source:  Gallup

[5] Source:  Gallup

[6] Source:  The Harris Poll

[7] Source: Fortune, Wrike

[8] Source: Mindshare’s The POOL