Ten Trends That Will Shape The Way We Live This Year
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Ten Trends That Will Shape The Way We Live This Year

Expect a new type of frugality as many change their spending to buy more secondhand items.

By ANN-MARIE ALCÁNTARA
Tue, Jan 18, 2022 11:03amGrey Clock 4 min

Consumers will evolve past being frugal this year by becoming more aware of their spending behaviours and looking for alternatives to buy goods in less traditional ways, said market research firm Euromonitor International in its annual prediction report.

The company’s annual trend report forecasts what consumers will value in the coming year and how companies should adapt to those behaviours. This year, consumers will change their spending in subtle ways. They will also even experiment with the metaverse, the research firm said.

“We see the middle class resetting and thinking about their spending, but we see that way beyond—everybody’s being a lot more frugal,” said Alison Angus, head of lifestyles research at Euromonitor.

Euromonitor traditionally begins the forecasting process around July. The fast-spreading Omicron variant has slowed down recovery efforts across industries and among consumers, but many of the forecasted trends are unaffected, Ms. Angus said.

Ahead are Euromonitor’s predictions for global consumer trends in 2022:

Supply-chain workarounds

Product shortages and disruptions have spurred consumers to use subscription services or buy secondhand to find what they want. Companies need to adapt to these individuals by offering alternatives to items, said Ms. Angus. Virtual queue systems present an opportunity for shoppers to get a place in line and hope they receive a product, the research firm said. Offering rental or refurbished products is another chance to keep that customer’s loyalty as does enticing them with exclusive or presale items.

Climate change becomes top of mind

The 26th conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as COP26, made consumers think about their everyday actions in relation to climate change, said Ms. Angus. People are looking to cut back on food waste, reduce their plastic use and recycle more. Sixty-seven per cent of consumers surveyed by Euromonitor stated that they tried to do something every day to have a beneficial impact on the environment. Climate change and sustainability are trends that continue to evolve from previous years, but in 2022, younger consumers will have more of an impact on their peers, parents and grandparents.

Senior citizens optimize their digital lives

The pandemic forced many people to adjust their behaviours, such as shopping for groceries online for the first time. That trend was especially popular among seniors. Now, this group of consumers want to continue their digital use, and companies should respond accordingly by offering training, support and making products that are easy to use, the research firm said. For some companies, it may mean making an app or website function the same across all types of devices such as a laptop or smartphone, Ms. Angus said.

Taking control of finances

The pandemic’s instability caused many consumers to become more aware of their finances, as well as experiment with investing and trying out cryptocurrencies, the firm said. Companies should offer ways to educate consumers about their financial services or make products more accessible, such as lowering fees, Ms. Angus said.

Prioritizing personal values and goals

Thirty-four percent of people in the latest survey preferred to spend money on experiences as opposed to products in 2021, compared with 27% in 2015. Companies need to address the change by becoming flexible to what consumers want, whether they are still working or looking for a new job opportunity. “Last year, we were talking about consumers rethinking their priorities and what their life wants to be like,” Ms. Angus said. “This year…they’re actually making the changes.”

The metaverse switches from experiment to a reality

Consumers who were forced to conduct their lives online via video chats are now changing their behaviour to engage with digital worlds and communities, Ms. Angus said. Virtual concerts, sales of nonfungible tokens and dressing avatars are behaviours that consumers are tapping into, and some companies are meeting them there, the research firm said. “Any business can’t afford not to be thinking about this,” Ms. Angus said. “Because it is happening and consumers are going there.”

Secondhand loses the stigma

Buying items secondhand is no longer stigmatized. It has become a sought-after option for consumers who want to have unique items or are shopping on a budget. Options such as gift cards or buyback programs that promote secondhand shopping behaviours from consumers are winning them over. Companies should meet this demand by addressing consumers who want to bring in older versions of items and receive a voucher or repair them in-store, Ms. Angus said.

City residents opt for suburban and rural perks

People who stayed in cities and didn’t flee to the suburbs during the pandemic now want some of the advantages of living outside a city, such as having access to green spaces. Others want more services closer to their homes, with many still working from home, the research firm said. Companies should aim to bring shops and services closer to them that don’t require a train or car ride. “Making everything accessible to consumers within 15 minutes,” Ms. Angus said.

Indulgence in self-care and happiness

Fifty-six per cent of consumers expect to be happier in the next five years, the firm stated. To reach that nirvana, people are buying products that help their mind and body, such as cannabis products or meditation courses. Personalized shopping experiences that can predict a consumer’s needs will become a key component in reaching these people, Ms. Angus said.

Hybrid approaches to socialization

As the pandemic continues, consumers are becoming fragmented: those who want to go back to their normal lives and engage in social activities, and those who remain cautious. This means hybrid possibilities, such as digital visits or waiving cancellation fees, can address the needs of different consumers, the firm said. Products and services need to become multifaceted and seamless to serve this split consumer base, Ms. Angus said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: January 17, 2022.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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