Welcome to 2024! This is the time when marketers are looking for new trends and insights that can power their brands during the new year. Several consulting and research firms have duly produced reports on the big consumer trends for the year ahead. However, there is a boring sameness to many of these reports. So, even while we scan these, where can we turn to for fresh consumer insights?

Here are some interesting places:

New Year’s resolutions

So many people make resolutions for the New Year. These resolutions also signal some of their most important needs for the year. For 2024, many surveys have thrown up “improve fitness” as a top resolution for over 40 per cent of all affluent and middle class consumers. This immediately throws us key opportunities for several diverse categories, ranging from food and beverage products to wearables to yoga garments. Similarly, resolutions such as “improve mental health”, “make more time for loved ones” and “lose weight” feature in the top 10 resolutions for the year.

Interestingly, something as specific as “prioritise time in nature” is emerging as a key new year’s resolution for many people this year. Each of these sharp needs can help marketers think of new products, prioritise existing ones, or even develop communication that emotionally vibes with these areas. For brands which have built their own first-party consumer databases, it may be worthwhile to check out the top new year’s resolutions of specific segments of these consumers. This could potentially lead to powerful and targeted marketing campaigns.

Peach Fuzz, colour of the year

At the start of each year, Pantone, the global company synonymous with colours, sets the mood by announcing the colour of the year. This is based on research carried out by the company. “Peach fuzz” has just been declared as the colour of 2024. This is a velvety gentle peach shade, which, according to Pantone, helps bring a “heartfelt feeling of kindness and tenderness, communicating a message of caring and sharing, community and collaboration”. Clearly, in a world that has been torn apart by wars, conflicts and sharp polarisation, the need for deep warmth and cocooned comfort has been a key factor in arriving at this choice. Marketers can leverage this beautiful insight in many interesting ways. For instance, brands can consider introducing peach fuzz colour options of existing cars, launching brand new peach fuzz inspired garments or bringing back the delicious peach melba flavour of ice creams. In addition, brands can also engage consumers with this mood of warmth, safety and comfort through many other touch points such as advertising, retail stores and digital websites.

Sports and elections

2024 is a huge year for sports. Apart from the usual much anticipated annual events such as IPL and the tennis grand slam tournaments, the Olympics will be hosted in Paris this year. The ICC T-20 cricket World Cup is scheduled in the US and West Indies. Copa America will be played in Argentina. Between athletics, cricket, football and more, marketers will be presented with a wide choice of how and where to associate their respective brands with sports. From sponsoring tournaments or individual sportspeople to smart guerilla marketing opportunities, there are many interesting directions that can be considered if marketers are proactive enough.

Quite coincidentally, this is also a big year for elections, with as many as 40 countries, including India, the US and the UK heading to the polls. This combination of sports and elections is likely to have a multiplier effect in generating strong feelings of patriotism and nationalistic pride. Also, both these events typically give rise to great passions, and marketers may wish to consider how best to constructively leverage these high emotions.

The big screen

Finally, I would urge marketers to take a look at the most anticipated movie releases of 2024, both in Bollywood and Hollywood. Successful blockbuster movies tend to spark off consumer trends quite spontaneously, and brands can proactively think of how best to ride the hype. 2024 has a promising line-up here too. From big bang films such as Kalki 2898 AD with a cast full of superstars to women-centric films including Do Patti and The Crew, there is much on offer in Bollywood this year. Similarly, big Hollywood releases are likely to include Dune: Part Two and perhaps even the next movie of the Spiderman franchise.

I conclude with a broader point for marketers. It pays to look for market and consumer insights in unconventional places. These should be a necessary supplement to formal market research studies.

Harish Bhat is a marketer, author and poet. He has recently retired as Brand Custodian, Tata Sons. These are his personal views.

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