The key innovation trends of 2024

What innovations will shape the year 2024? What changes and advancements are occurring in commerce and in our dietary habits? Where is artificial intelligence being applied? The Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute has compiled an overview of the most significant trends and shows their current status.
5 January, 2024 by
The key innovation trends of 2024
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

Circular commerce

Alternatives to primary consumption are becoming more crucial: consumers, businesses and policymakers want to extend the lifecycles of products. Consumers will use existing items for longer periods, businesses will increasingly offer second-hand goods, repair and rental services, while policies will promote the circular economy through incentives and regulations. At the same time, the importance of purely material ownership is diminishing.

Just-walk-out checkout

​​ Lengthy checkout queues lose the brick-and-mortar retail industry in the UK alone GBP 1 billion a year. A quarter of Britons refuse to wait for longer than two minutes at checkout, and abandon their purchases thereafter. After four minutes of waiting, more than half (59%) are on the verge of aborting their purchases, and after five minutes, this figure rises to 73%. Customers who have already abandoned a frustrated shopping trip once before are unlikely to revisit the store in the near future. Numerous companies are therefore currently investing in cashier-less systems (known as “just-walk-out technology”, e.g. Trigo). In 2018, an estimated 350 stores worldwide had autonomous checkout systems, a number expected to rise to 10,000 by 2024. At present, most just-walk-out stores are small-scale convenience stores. .

Retail media

Advertising is increasingly shifting to the point of sale. Both online (e.g. prime placements on Amazon) and offline (screens operated by Cyreen or Advertima). The closer you are to actually completing your purchase, the more effective advertising messages become. Retailers worldwide are therefore utilising areas in their stores or on their web pages to generate additional revenue.

In-store analytics

For online shopping, consumer behaviour has been measured in detail using tracking tools for years, while in-store behaviour has been significantly more challenging to analyse. However, in-store analytics has made significant progress. Sensors and cameras anonymise and structure customers' movements, providing stores with information about pathways, dwell times in front of shelves, waiting times at checkout and aborted purchases.

Quick commerce

Since 2020, more than USD 5 billion have been invested in quick commerce delivery services like Getir, Flink or GoPuff. Getir's app alone has been downloaded 28 million times worldwide on Android. On-demand delivery services promise delivery within minutes, setting new standards for acceptable delivery times across various sectors. Despite their popularity, many quick commerce startups are not making a profit yet.

AI service agents

Interactions with chatbots are increasingly replacing personal interactions for service enquiries. Chatbots are conducting more human-like conversations. For instance, fast-food restaurants are currently testing AI drive-through assistants offering personalised recommendations and real-time bestsellers.

AI avatars

Customers can use avatars to represent themselves, creating a digital identity. For example, in a fitting room, customers are scanned to create anonymous avatars with precise body shapes. The database then compares this data with that of the majority of customers and, with AI assistance, recommends the best-fitting models.

Activist consumption

Activist or purpose-driven consumption refers to consumers' decisions on products and services based on their values and beliefs. Purpose-driven consumption boosts demand for products and services that are aligned with a consumer’s values, ideally encouraging companies to introduce more sustainable and ethical practices along the entire supply chain – from sourcing raw materials to packaging and transportation. Innovations and investments in these areas are thus becoming more likely.

Food as medicine

Consumers are health-conscious and seek foods offering not just a great taste, but also a range of health benefits. For the food-as-medicine movement, nutrition is an integral part of wellbeing, and a healthy lifestyle forms the basis for disease prevention and a long life. Hence, nutritional plans are now utilised in healthcare to prevent, control and treat diseases. Functional foods and personalised nutrition are gaining importance.

Sustainable pet food

In the USA alone, there are more than 163 million dogs and cats, and a significant proportion of their diets consists of animal products. This leaves a sizeable ecological footprint. By using alternative protein sources for pet food, such as insects, algae, cell-based meats and fish or even plant-based ingredients, manufacturers can reduce their reliance on conventional meat, thus helping to reduce the environmental impact of pet food production.

Creator economy

Social media has evolved from a pastime to an independent economy. An estimated one billion people will work as content creators within the next five years. The creator economy describes the trend in which consumers create and market their own (digital) content, becoming producers themselves. Chefs and food bloggers can leverage their influence and reach in order to raise awareness about issues like food waste, sustainable agriculture and healthy eating habits, encouraging consumers to make sustainable dietary choices.

Lab-grown meat

Cellular agriculture isn't about plant-based meat substitutes, but rather an entirely new way of production: meat grown from stem cells in bioreactors instead of slaughtering animals. This new type of meat is highly debated, but currently available in only very few locations (Singapore & the US) due to limited availability and a lack of regulatory approval. In July 2023, Israeli company Aleph Farms submitted a request for approval in Switzerland. The process isn’t expected to be concluded before 2025.

The true cost of food

Food production and consumption generate external costs that aren’t factored into pricing. The true costs of food consider the actual cost of food production, establishing a fair, realistic price structure. The true price is the market price + environmental costs + social costs. If prices were calculated universally in this manner, local organic vegetables would become cheaper, while mass-farmed meat would become significantly more expensive – now reflecting the true cost of the product. Consequently, consumption patterns would shift, as environmentally harmful or unhealthy products would no longer be as affordable, while ecological and healthy products would become more accessible.

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