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The future of the consumer industry

Buying into better™

Think the world has changed over the last decade? Just wait.
Prepare to lead in the future of the consumer industry
The future is fast approaching, and the consumer industry is on the precipice of dramatic change that will significantly impact the markets, models, and mechanics of consumer companies over the next decade. With all this uncertainty, one thing is clear: The strategies that led you to today likely won’t get you to the future.

Change is a staple of humanity. And nowhere is the velocity of change more evident than in the future of the consumer industry.

The industry is currently facing a once-in-a-century economic, social, and technological transition.

To add complexity, this is happening against a backdrop of significant challenges, such as accelerated climate change, growing economic inequality, declining trust, increasing polarization, and worsening global financial conditions. Not only do companies need to navigate this once-in-a-century transition, but they should do it with an eye toward addressing critical issues for society and the planet more broadly.

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The coming years of change

To harness the opportunities brought on by major forces of change in the consumer industry and boldly lead their organizations into the future, executives should understand the implications of these changes along three dimensions of business: markets, models, and mechanics.


  • What is sold
  • Who it is being sold to
  • What products or services create value

What is sold, who it's sold to, which goods and services are valued, and how the industry creates value.

  • From mass to micro: The market has shifted from supply-driven to demand-driven
  • Digital and hybrid tsunami: The growth of digital goods and services outsize and displace spending on traditional physical categories
  • Responsibility as a requisite: Ecological damage continues to accelerate, and the impact on the economy and the individual becomes more visible. In the near future, consumer industry trust, privacy, equity, and advocacy will also become essential to the changing value proposition


  • How businesses organize and configure
  • How materials and capabilities are sourced
  • What new models create value

How businesses organize and configure, how materials and capabilities are sourced, and what new models create value.

  • Industries converge: Continued acceleration and collision of infotech and biotech create a massive market opportunity
  • Seismic supply shift: Geopolitical, economic, and market forces are converging to require a significant reshaping of supply chains
  • Radical industry reconfiguration: The growth of capability-as-a-service in the market is driving significant reconfiguration of the industry


  • How businesses execute work
  • How businesses employ labor
  • How businesses make strategic and operational decisions

How businesses execute work, employ labor, build ecosystems, and make strategic and operational decisions.

  • The age of algorithms and automation: Data and automation are driving highly efficient businesses that can sense and respond to granular shifts in consumer demand
  • Workforce extremes: The scarcity of technology-driven skills and redundancy of workers replaced by automation are creating a difficult transition for the workforce
  • New center of financial gravity: Traditional sources of growth and margin continue to collapse under the weight of increasing options and commoditization

Six forces of change

Through a series of conversations held over 18 months with more than 800 consumer industry executives, analysts, academia, and luminaries, along with input captured and monitored monthly in Deloitte’s Global State of the Consumer Tracker, Deloitte has identified six forces that will play a fundamental role in shaping the future of the consumer industry over the next decade. These trends don’t exist in a vacuum; the collective movement and acceleration of these forces will create a new competitive landscape where opportunities will emerge and innovation will drive the industry forward.

  • The changing consumer, becoming more diverse and transforming across multiple dimensions
  • An evolving society and culture, with consumers breaking free of traditional anchors
  • Exponential xTech, with advancements in infotech and a broad set of technologies, including biotech and material science, that will likely make progress of the past decade pale by comparison
  • Radical industry upheaval, with the dynamics shaping the industry increasing in pace and intensity
  • Extreme climate change and its economic impact on the future, which will put pressure on the consumer industry to transform itself
  • Shifting economics, policy, and power that are becoming increasingly uncertain and requiring a more flexible approach to management


Today’s empowered consumers have their eyes on the future, and are using their dollars to effect the change they want to see in the world.

While facing monumental transitions, companies are choosing to extend their mission beyond shareholder value to encompass broader ecological and societal issues. Together, they’re buying into better

At Deloitte, we believe that the future isn’t something to be predicted, but instead created. Forward-thinking consumer organizations should act with agency and take on bold decisions concerning markets, models, and mechanics to be a valued brand of tomorrow. Ultimately, we will all need to buy into better.

Kasey Lobaugh, Principal, Chief Futurist US Consumer Industry

The agency to harness change and build a better tomorrow

The future isn’t preordained. Instead, we construct our future one choice at a time. We have the influence, agency, and power to choose where we are going, and to shape the future of the consumer industry—and the world—for the better. What future do we want, and more importantly, what future do we have the courage to engineer?

To navigate this ever-changing landscape, current—and future—consumer industry leaders need to recognize, monitor, and assess the six forces for effective scenario planning. The future will require companies to understand the implications of their decisions—and create a new approach to markets, models, and mechanics—as they chart their paths to buying into better.

Anthony Waelter - US Consumer Industry Leader | Deloitte & Touche LLP

Kasey Lobaugh - Chief Futurist US Consumer Industry | Deloitte Consulting LLP

Alisa Locricchio - Senior Manager, Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring | Human Capital at Deloitte Consulting

Cole Oman - Strategic Foresight Leader | Office for the Future at Deloitte Consulting

Brian Umbenhauer - US Consulting Consumer Industry Leader

Kate Ferrara - RWD practice leader | Risk & Financial Advisory

Sam Loughry - US Audit & Assurance Consumer Industry Leader

Antonio D’Angelo - US Tax Consumer & Industrial Products Leader

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