Overshadowed by the upticks in consumer spending around the holidays, the new year brings opportunities that some retailers would be remiss to ignore.
The season of giving to others becomes the season of giving to oneself — largely with the goal of self-improvement.
After weeks or even months of purchasing items for others, it’s time to treat yourself. And if it’s for the betterment of health, happiness, or overall well-being, there’s a better chance for retailers who fit within related verticals.
Almost half (45%) of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. And though most of those ambitious resolutions fail, that doesn’t mean that consumers aren’t putting their best foot forward — at first.
Nielsen conducted a survey to see what resolutions people make, and they found the following to be the most popular:
- Stay fit and healthy
- Lose weight
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Spend less and save more
- Spend more time with friends and family
- Get organized
- Learn something new or try a new hobby
- Travel more
- Read more
Many of these resolutions support one another. For example, losing weight may help one to enjoy life to the fullest. Getting organized may mean more time with friends and family. Traveling could lead to more opportunities to read.
And developing these self-improvement goals doesn’t just benefit those making the resolutions — thee objectives can lead to higher demand for products and services in specific retail industries. If a product can help a consumer reach their goal, you can bet they’re willing to invest in it.
So as 2017 approaches, retailers offering the following products have a unique opportunity to capitalize on some of our top resolutions.
Athletic Apparel and Accessories
This might seem the most straightforward and easiest to correlate against the top resolutions. Staying fit and healthy and losing weight are respectively No. 1 and No. 2 on the list. Someone with these goals is likely to invest in athletic gear.
A quick look at exercise gear in Google Trends shows a spike in January for the past two years, and research has found that athletic gear and clothing was the most-purchased self-improvement item in America in 2015 (gym memberships weren’t far behind in fourth, and exercise equipment was No. 14).
According to the concept of “enclothed cognition,” your attire affects your cognitive process. This drives purchasing behavior, motivating consumers to buy apparel and accessories that match their perception of someone achieving a wellness goal.
Consumers purchasing athletic gear skews younger; 53% of participants in the 25 to 34-year-old age group intend to purchase athletic gear, while only 36% of 55-64 year olds agreed. Retailers should consider this insight when targeting their marketing efforts.
When we say athletic gear, we’re referring to not only the attire and footwear, but also wearable fitness tech, headphones/earbuds, wellness trackers, equipment and other related products.
A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that nearly half of Americans own a wearable of some type, with health being the primary motivator. Because 34% of consumers plan to use their smartphone to help with their fitness, expect these kinds of mobile apps to increase in popularity in January, as well as smartphones that feature health-tracking capabilities.
Health and Wellness Products
While fitness is one way to meet these goals, other wellness products offer an alternative avenue for consumers explore as it relates to their health.
The top two resolutions also point consumer interest to healthier foods. Some of the most-purchased self-improvement products in 2015 include multivitamins (No. 2), diet foods (No. 3), organic foods (No. 7), fiber (No. 15), probiotics (No. 17) and diet programs (No. 19).
Retailers can be proactive in the marketing and labeling of their food- and diet-related products, simplifying labels and increasing transparency about what goes into their product.
In fact, two-thirds of consumers around the world omit specific ingredients in their diet completely. And the demand for natural, antibiotic-free and minimally processed meat is on the rise. Retailers in this industry should familiarize themselves with these trends and be proactive in their approach to meet consumer preferences.
Along the same vein of athletic gear and healthy dietary products, kitchen appliances were the sixth most purchased self-improvement product in 2015. The thought is that these are wellness-related purchases, specifically looking at blenders and juicers, for example.
Another look in Google Trends for juicers and blenders reveal spikes in searches in January.
Juicing is perceived to not only aid in weight loss, but also detoxing. People may go on a juice fast to cleanse the body of toxins. While scientific evidence isn’t completely conclusive about the effectiveness of this practice, consumer belief is that it can help kick start their wellness plans.
Smoothies are also perceived as a healthier alternative and a way to get more fruit, vegetables and protein incorporated in the diet.
Reading, Learning, and Self Improvement
Books and magazines cracked the top 10 in the ninth slot of self-improvement products consumers planned to purchase in 2015, and educational courses and materials came in at No. 13.
These purchases may represent the resolutions of reading more and learning a new skill or hobby. For some, that new hobby may be reading itself. Others may also consider these investments ways in which to enjoy life to the fullest.
Whatever the motivations for these purchases, retailers should look to increase their offerings and marketing efforts around these products in January.
Printed books aren’t the only medium for aspiring readers. E-books and audiobooks have grown in popularity, according to research put out by Pew Research Center. And while libraries could see an increase in foot traffic, 48% of readers still purchase books.
Students enrolled in college courses behave slightly differently, with 69% of total spending on course materials allocated to printed textbooks. Retailers offering digital alternatives should highlight the benefits: environmentally friendly, ease of transport and enhanced material (animations or sortable tables, for example).
Consumers self-educate in other ways. They may learn new hobbies online or from classes in their area, enroll in educational courses (again, online or locally), or invest in educational materials.
Informative video trainings and language-learning software are two examples of alternatives to books where retailers can look to make a footprint.
Organization is the key to a number of resolutions. It allows you to enjoy life more fully, spend less time on tasks that take away from quality time with friends and family, manage financials and time, and, obviously, get organized.
It’s no surprise that related self-improvement products purchased in 2015 came in with household organizational items at No. 10, time-management tools at No. 11, and money-management tools at No. 16.
The concept of getting organized means different things to different people. For some, it’s creating order out of chaos in the home. That could be why tools and hardware increased 8% in sales in January 2016, and home and office furniture went up 4%.
Consignment shops also see the effects. After receiving gifts over the holidays, consumers need to make room. This often includes a closet clean-out, which then increases the inventory at consignment shops. thredUP, a website for clothing resale, had more than a 60% increase in items for sale from December 2015 to January 2016.
That reveals a major opportunity for retailers in the consignment space. Showcasing a larger and more diverse product selection makes it appealing to consumers. And who doesn’t love a bargain?
Organization isn’t limited to the tangible. Consumers are always seeking ways to get more time and more money. And many of them are turning to mobile apps; more than half of Americans use mobile banking, according to the Federal Reserve.
Money and finance can go hand in hand. 31% of mobile bankers agree that using budget-planning apps actually saves time, and 28% percent believe this behavior has helped them adjust their spending habits.
While data for time-management apps is scarce, and there is no solid proof that they actually work, this doesn’t prevent consumers from downloading them. For example, Todoist, a task- and time-management app, has been downloaded more than 10 million times from the Google Play Store. And that’s just one app on one operating system.
How Will You Cash in On Resolutions?
Perhaps the most important lesson here for retailers is to think beyond what will trend in early 2017. Think about who is making these resolutions and what their goals are. Then offer products to aid them in their self-improvement journey — whether their will lasts one week or the entire year. That’s where retailers have the most opportunity to get ahead of the trends and competitors.
Are you ramping up your product offerings in preparation for the new year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.