American Consumers in 2020 Will Be Very Different

ROCKVILLE, Md. — In 2020, U.S. marketers and retailers will be dealing with a very different consumer, according to a new report by market researcher Packaged Facts.

As American Consumers in 2020 details, the average household head will be older, less likely to be non-Hispanic white and more likely to be a woman, while the average consumer — outside of the multicultural population groups — will be living in a smaller household and will be more likely to be living on his or her own.

Additionally, the kids and teens markets will have an increasingly multicultural look due to a sustained decline in the birth rate among non-Hispanic white women. The youth market will also lose buying power because of a decline in the population of 18- to 24-year-olds.

Other projections include:

  • Boomers. Aging Boomers will make up one of the most important consumer segments in 2020, according to Packaged Facts. While older consumers have spent less in absolute terms and have focused their spending on necessities like housing and healthcare rather than discretionary items in the past, consumer spending in 2020 will become robust as current spending patterns suggest.
  • Millennials. Another key factor shaping the marketing and retail landscape in 2020 is whether the mindset of millennials will evolve as they mature. Over the next five years as the cohort of millennials move into their late 30s, research questions whether they will continue  to minimally spend and share as they do in 2015, or move into more traditional patterns of homeownership and consumption.
  • Consumer confidence. A wildcard in economic projections, data compiled by Packaged Facts' National Online Consumer Survey suggests that consumers in 2015 are relatively optimistic about their personal prospects in the next five years. Seven in 10 either strongly or somewhat agree that “I am optimistic about the future,” and more than 60 percent think their job prospects look good over the next few years.

“Looking ahead to 2020, in some areas, American consumers in 2015 have a less dystopian view of the future than might be expected,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “Less than a quarter of consumers think that their food supply will be less safe, and only a third believe that global warming will make life harder in five years.”

However, consumer views of the economic future raise flags about how well the economy will fare in 2020. Packaged Facts research shows less than a third of consumers believe the American economy will be better off in 2020 that in 2015. This is tempered by a significantly higher percentage of consumers (42 percent) who say they believe their personal financial situation will be better off in 2020.

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