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Macro Forces & Trends

MAY 2024

Several trends allow for business owners to maximize results in the commercial landscape. 

Evolving with the change

Over the past two years, rising costs have significantly strained many households. These escalating expenses—driven by broader macroeconomic factors—gravely impact households with lower incomes. However, focusing a strategy strictly on low-income consumers could lead to an oversight of other key trends across culture, technology, the economy, and the environment that are expected to redefine the consumer and business landscape in the next three years.

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birds eye view of a city neighborhood


Evolving lifestyles and shifts in demographics are changing consumer behaviors. Just 37% of US households are nuclear families, about half the rate they were 50 years ago¹. This shift demands new ways of thinking about multigenerational, multicultural, and multi-roommate households. Health and wellness also continue to evolve as consumers get more informed and detail-oriented about their own wellness needs. Meanwhile, diverging ideologies create tension and division, with only 1 in 6 Gen Z consumers trusting in traditional institutions². To counter this anxiety and sense of permacrisis, awe-inspiring experiences are in demand to bring us together in powerful ways.


Advancements in technology, particularly AI and automation, are driving innovation, productivity, and presenting new opportunities and challenges. ChatGPT hit 100 millions users in 2 months³, well ahead of TikTok’s previous record of 9 months. Millennial parents are more comfortable letting their Gen Alpha children spend time online, and 67% mostly let their kids choose what they watch⁴. At the same time, Gen Z is making efforts to cut back on social media use with 83% saying they appreciate and prefer in-person interactions⁵.


As we navigate our way out of the pandemic, consumers are seeking stability amid a myriad of financial strains like inflation and long-term economic uncertainty. 36% of US families have skipped meals due to financial reasons in the last year⁶, putting further pressure on a restaurant, retail, and brand value propositions. As labor force participation has declined in the last 20 years while population has remained stagnant, business are also in a labor pinch to recruit and retain employees⁷. 


Extreme weather events and climate catastrophes continue to accelerate as 71% of Americans say they’ve experienced an extreme weather event in their community in the last year⁸. Yet many consumers have a hard time navigating how to make proper choices when it comes to sustainability. The say/pay barrier poses challenges while 78% of consumers say they don’t know how to identify environmentally-friendly companies⁹. New energy sources and technologies seem to hold promise in making a dent towards more sustainable practices at scale, but they can often pose new environmental challenges when it comes to storage and waste.

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As we delve into these trends, the challenge lies in turning them into opportunities and fostering conversations to create more robust, sustainable solutions for our collective future.

Sources: 1), The Modern American Family. 2), Gen Voices Lackluster Trust in Major Institutions. 3), ChatGPT Users., ChatGPT users decline. 4), Millennial Parents Say Where Their Kids Are Watching Video Content Now. 5), Gen Z is on a Mission to Build a Better Normal for All. 6), 36% of Families Skipped Meals for Financial Reasons Study Finds. 7), US Labor Shortage Continues Despite Improved Employment. 8), How Brands Can Sell to Environmental Conscious NonConsumers. 9), The Rise of Ethical and Environmental Certifications in Business.


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