Prospects for 2024

Our crystal ball is usually a bit clearer by this time of year for what is coming next. There are so many issues facing consumers and businesses right now, with the economy being front and center.

Here Is Our View

Several recent data points have been suggesting it may in fact be possible to have a “soft landing” and avoid a deep recession in 2024. Inflation for the month of November fell to 3.1% versus the prior year, the lowest rate of increase in 5 months. Employment increased by 199,000 jobs in November with unemployment decreasing to 3.7%. Forecasts call for GDP growth of +1.8% for 2024. The Federal Reserve has held interest rates steady, and there is growing sentiment that rates may in fact come down in 2024. These positive developments have contributed to a stock market rally in December.

The concern is consumer debt is now at all-time high and late payment rates are going up. Consumer and business confidence indices are still soft. Since consumer spending drives 68% of the economy, and interest rates for big ticket items like houses and cars are still historically high, that supports the view that economic growth will slow in the coming year.

Net, net: things have improved in the past couple of months, but there are enough clouds on the horizon to remain somewhat cautious in your business planning outlook. Perhaps you can delay large spending increases or huge capital projects for a couple of months to see where the economy goes in the first quarter of 2024. Or hold off on your planned new hires. Cautious optimism, as they say.

What about larger consumer trends for 2024?

There are a number of changes that are influencing purchasing behavior.

1. Health & Wellness – The continuing shift toward health and wellness is evident in the rising demand for nutritious, organic, and natural products for people and pets. Non-GMO and gluten-free labeling are now largely in use, reflected in claims made and package designs across most product categories. This trend cuts across most demographics, as consumers are making choices to eat healthier, exercise more (or some), and live longer. Are you doing all that you can to take full advantage of this?

2. Convenience & speed – McKinsey says 60% of consumers desire immediate gratification and efficiency in every aspect of their lives. The growing use of eCommerce and the ubiquity of digital devices contribute to lower-hassle shopping, as well as greater productivity for business and personal commitments. Industries including financial services, media and entertainment, travel, and retail have embraced this need with ongoing investments in technology and customer service. How good is your user experience?

3. Social media – Eighty nine percent of marketers see better ROI from use of influencer marketing, a strategy that leverages individuals with significant social media followings to promote products. Leveraging social media for kids and youth has become particularly effective in establishing connections with consumers and boosting brand authenticity. It’s nearly real-time, it’s entertaining and informative, and it is the place to tell (and show) your story. Check out how your social media assets compare to your competitors, and upgrade as necessary.

4. Home is the hub – This trend toward home-centric products and services is clearly linked to the rise of remote work and the increasing desire for comfort, security, and convenience at home. The technology, home office, and telecommunications sectors will continue to see demand for innovations. The traditional office workplace will never be the same. Is there a way to increase product versatility or expand usage occasions to recognize the home as a hub?

5. Diversity and inclusion – The increasing focus on inclusivity and diversity represents a profound shift in consumer expectations and corporate practices, reflecting the diverse world we live in and acknowledging consumers’ varied experiences and identities. Plus, companies and their leaders are scrutinized by the media like never before. Most of our clients are making strides, but can you go faster or go further?

6. Make memories – This reflects a shift toward valuing experiences over ownership. There is a deeper desire for meaningful and memorable engagements rather than material possessions. Keeping up with the Joneses is fading, particularly for the younger cohorts. Luxury goods may see some headwinds as their addressable market shrinks. Are there any messaging adjustments that you could refine and apply here?

At Forge, we thrive on helping clients get to the next level. We have worked with many clients charting a path to fully leverage market and consumer trends. And in some cases, reposition a brand to address blind spots or vulnerabilities.

We are here to be your partner, a member of your extended team, an objective yet vested voice. And we will always bring the conversation back to strategy. Who is your primary target audience going forward? How does your product meet and exceed their needs? What are the best ways to enhance your product portfolio? How do we maximize the market opportunity and optimize return on investment?

Importantly, we are pragmatic, focused, and energetic. We get assignments done well, and quickly.

Take the first step to a more successful business today.

1.    Hit “LET’S TALK” to schedule a free 30-minute discussion. No pressure – we promise.
2.    We’ll provide real-world case studies showing the process in action.
3.    If we’re a fit, we finalize details and get started!

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