carbon emissions

It seems there’s a new lifestyle movement cropping up every five minutes. Whether it’s keeping fit, eating healthier or becoming more politically active, there’s plenty for us to choose from. But does the lifestyle change or new fad effect more than just the individual? Could a bunch of people deciding to become vegans impact on your industry?

Here are a few examples to consider:

  • If people are getting fit are they less likely to buy your wine?
  • If someone can work from home, will they think twice about whether they need to buy a car?
  • If a person switches to a vegan diet, is it going to impact on your animal farming business?
  • If consumers are changing to online shopping, will it reduce the number of people visiting your retail shop?

There is absolutely no doubt that changes in behaviour on a large scale can have a significant impact on businesses and different sectors.

Veganism and Dairy Farming

The rise of the vegan movement over the last few years, according to some, has certainly had an impact on the dairy industry. Vegans are a step up from vegetarians in that they don’t include any animal products (including dairy and eggs) in their nutrition. This means they don’t go out and buy milk or cheese but opt for substitutes instead. Vegans point to the environment and health benefits of their lifestyle but also the way in which animals are treated by farmers.

According to the Telegraph, the number of vegans has risen in the UK by 360% over the last ten years. This has been driven in part by various celebrities who have promoted their lifestyle with TV programmes and books. The change is seen mostly in the young, those in their late teens and early twenties, creating a population that takes its nutrition seriously. There are half a million vegans in the UK right now. But what about in another ten years, twenty?

Of course, there are still plenty of people who buy milk and cheese at their local supermarket and dairy farmers have a lot more to worry about than just the rise of the vegan lifestyle.  One of their main issues is the price milk is being sold for, as well as non-vegans opting for dairy alternatives.

Going Green and Energy

Another movement that is perhaps having a bigger impact is the desire to live in a greener, cleaner, less climate compromised world. The ability to switch utility suppliers has given consumers more of a choice and those that want to see more renewable technologies can now opt to sign up with companies that have sustainability at the heart of their operation. This in turn has led to more businesses coming onto the market that are divesting themselves of fossil fuel supplies and promising that their power comes from wind, solar and hydro rather than nuclear and coal fired sources. It’s also made bigger utility companies improve their sustainable credentials.

Utilities are being forced to accept renewables via the EU and climate change regulations and agreements. But those in the green lifestyle are having their impact as well.

The Impact of Changing Behaviour in the Population

Lifestyle changes don’t happen easily on a large scale. Usually there is a small number of people adopting a particular fad. New Year resolutions where we try to get healthier may well impact on the local pub or reduce wine sales for a short while but they normally recover. To create any significant change, large numbers of the population need to take up a particular behaviour and maintain it for a long period of time to cause significant disruption.

This has happened in the past. Each generation exerts its own force on the market place. Millennials were largely responsible for the response to using social media and growing our digital connectedness online. The new Generation Z are more tuned into health and fitness than ever before. According to Forbes:

“Gen Z knows a lot (or think they do), and they think a lot about being ‘balanced.’ More so than any other generation, Gen Z looks to exercise as a way to treat or prevent illness, and it is particularly relevant for emotional and stress-related issues.”

Each emerging demographic is going to change the world in their own way. The impact on industry could be major or subtle, depending on how a certain lifestyle movement develops and ingrains itself in the popular psyche. It’s not all destructive for industry either. The rise of the fitness and wellbeing lifestyle has been a boon to the bicycle manufacturers with more of us getting out on our bikes. Health food shops are getting better business and supermarkets now offer a more diverse range of products than they did just 30 years ago.

Could a lifestyle movement impact your industry? Certainly, especially if you fail to adapt and the change becomes more popular. In general, the number of individuals who adopt a new lifestyle is not disruptive enough to fatally damage a whole industry, there are just too many of us with diverse views of the world – that doesn’t mean, however, that it couldn’t happen in the future.

Written by Anna Lemos