Trendwatch: Breaking bad

David Mattin

Consumers looking to break unwanted lifestyle habits or change their behaviour often run up against a seemingly impenetrable wall: themselves. Which is why in 2014, they will turn to brands, products and services that parent, police and even constrain their free will in their quest for self-improvement. That quest - and the desire to share the results with peers to earn status - is at the heart of much consumer behaviour. Put another way, the drive to 'be the person you've always wanted to be' is a fundamental part of the human experience.

But it's a problematic part, too. A full 73% of US consumers who set fitness goals for the New Year give up before they achieve their goal (Harris Interactive, December 2012). Broken New Year's resolutions are hardly anything new, but the more recent world of digital-powered self-improvement is also bedevilled by the same problems: only 10% of those who register for courses via the online education platform Coursera, for example, finish their course (Coursera, April 2013).