How Shopping, Eating and Lifestyle Will Change in 2014

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Can a flip of the calendar change the consumer, diet and lifestyle habits of regular Americans?

That's always been the promise behind that most venerable of January institutions -- the New Year's resolution. But as anyone who's tried to stick to a resolution knows, heartfelt convictions about turning your life around, or at least in a different direction, are easier said than done. (Which is why nobody talks about new year's resolutions after Feb. 1.)

But one consumer market research group says this year will really, really be different. Through a combination of personal growth, an improving global economy and the desire to finally leave a better legacy for future generations, Americans view 2014 as a "game-changer" in terms of consumer behavior.

That's the view of Euromonitor, a Chicago research firm that specializes in consumer behavior. The firm says that this will be a year Americans -- and consumers in most developed nations -- will "have an overwhelming urge to indulge in luxury goods, download more apps and document experiences visually through social media."

Balancing those urges, consumers will also strive to spend more time with family and friends and away from the office, eat healthier and launch an "eco friendly lifestyle" that will leave a sustainable imprint for future generations.

If that sounds overambitious for a single year (what, no climbing Mount Everest?) then so be it. Euromonitor is ready to back that outlook up some concrete predictions:

Shopping: Consumers will seek more "instant gratification" when shopping, and retailers are more than ready to comply. Euromonitor cites new technologies such as MasterCard's alliance with publisher Conde Nast enabling online consumers to instantly buy items they see in a magazine ad or an item of clothing worn in a movie.

Diets: Consumers will wake up to the fact that a better diet leads to a longer, more enjoyable life. Euromonitor calls this awakening a turn to "food sensitivity" and predicts that consumers are willing to pay more for food items with specific benefits, such as added nutrients.

Sustainability: Global consumers need help in figuring out how to become, as Euromonitor puts it, "eco-warriors." That's where brand-based initiatives such as SHFT, the brainchild of Entourage actor Adrian Grenier, should resonate with celebrity-minded consumers seeking a path to ecological nirvana.

Lifestyle: More consumers will dig deeper and pay more for luxury goods at high-end clothiers and jewelers and even at downscale brands such as 7-Eleven (in the form of opting for the "gourmet coffee").

Consumers are also growing tired of failed attempts to achieve a work-life balance. But can technology turn that around?

"Many people believe that mobile connectivity is blurring the work/leisure divide, creating more stress while others believe it may relieve pressure on working consumers," the firm reports. "Yet while the majority of consumers make financial security concerns a priority, others are questioning personal and career satisfaction and goals and opting for simpler living."

It will be interesting to check back in early 2015 and see how on-the-money Euromonitor was with its consumer behavior crystal ball. It depends largely on the great but notoriously fickle global consumer, but there's no crystal ball in history that knows for sure what he or she thinks or will do.

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