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Jul 11, 2019
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UK consumers seek experiences, eco and wellness, says Mintel

Jul 11, 2019

Experiences, a focus on wellness, and ethical considerations have become key priorities for UK consumers, according to a new report from market intelligence agency Mintel.

Tracking spending across major consumer markets, Mintel’s British Lifestyles Report provides a snapshot of how modern Britain dresses, shops and relaxes.

The study found that total UK consumer spending grew 4% to £1.32 trillion in 2018, and will increase by a further 17% to £1.55 trillion over the next five years.

So understanding consumers’ motivations will be essential for brands and retailers wanting to stay relevant and build momentum in 2019 and beyond. According to the report, the underwear, homeware and beauty sectors are experiencing a boom.


Mintel suggested that the rise in homeworking is driving growth in the loungewear category, with sales of underwear, nightwear and loungewear increasing by 18.8% in the last five years. In 2018, Britons spent £4.6 billion on these items, with the average consumer spending £38 on underwear and £34 on lounge/nightwear. Premium brands are the preferred choice for underwear for 26% of young men aged 16-35s, and consumer spending on this category is expected to soar by 19.1% to £5.5 billion by 2023.

Jack Duckett, Mintel associate director of consumer lifestyles research, said:  “More than 4 milllion people now regularly work from home, and their demand for comfort has arguably been a contributing factor to the booming sales of loungewear. Celebrity influence is likely to have fostered the trend for chicer underwear. Candid celebs have shared images on social media in sexy and sporty underwear designs, which has helped to return the sense of fun and even aspiration to a category that otherwise runs the risk of being a price-driven basic purchase.”


The homes and gardens sector was the fastest growing area of consumer expenditure between 2017 and 2018, increasing by 11.6% during to £68 billion, Mintel has revealed. And sales of home and garden products are expected to rise a further 37.4% over the next five years, as older millennials prepare to leave their parents’ nest and turn to Instagram to get home decor inspiration.

“Offering Instagram-friendly value-oriented homeware will become increasingly important as millennials finally begin to set up homes of their own. Indeed, fashion retailers including Zara and H&M are already increasing the number of homeware products they offer. We’re also seeing a rise in gardening spend due to warmer weather. There could be a slowdown in the housing sector similar to what we saw during the 2008 recession, with people making their homes and gardens nicer rather than moving,” Jack Duckett continued.


From more niche brands to established names, the beauty market is becoming more eco-friendly, and consumers are responding. According to Mintel, beauty shoppers are the nation’s most ethical shoppers with 47% likely to take ethical considerations into account before purchasing beauty and personal care goods. Meanwhile, only 39% of Britons take into account ethical considerations before buying clothes or going to the pub.

“Modern consumers are looking to brands to be moral and ethical on their behalf,” Duckett commented. “Beauty is notably the most common area where people consider how ethical a brand is before buying. Much of this can be attributed to the sector’s focus on animal welfare and plastic waste reduction, two of the most important ethical issues for consumers today. However, it also reflects how both well-known and indie beauty brands are taking a forthright and active approach in tackling a broader spectrum of ethical issues, with brands such as Fenty Beauty focusing consumers on issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusivity, while The Body Shop has reignited its mission to end animal testing globally.” 

Experience-led activities will continue to drive growth in the retail and leisure market this year, Mintel has forecast, particularly experiences that tap into the booming health and wellness trend. Unique experiences that consumers can share on social media will also become more popular. 

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