CHICAGO — Trust, control and simplicity are among some of the biggest themes in consumer behavior so far this year, according to Mintel International.

"At the end of last year, we knew 2009 was going to be difficult for people across the globe," said Harry Foster, global analyst at Mintel. "But as we review our five consumer trend predictions, we see that optimism has steadily balanced out stress and economic hardship. The first half of the year was especially challenging, but with tentative, recent green shoots of recovery, we expect people’s attitudes to brighten considerably in coming months. Consumers have a resilient ability to stay positive amid tough circumstances."

Mintel predicted that trust, control, playfulness, simplicity, and trading down, up and over would be some of the biggest consumer trends in 2009.

When it comes to consumer trust in general, not only do 66% of adults say they have less trust in financial services companies because of recent economic developments, but such trust concerns may translate over into the food industry. After all, 6 out of 10 Americans worry about food safety.

A survey of U.S. adults showed two in five said they intend to permanently spend less and decrease their reliance on credit cards, which increases consumer control over finances.

Even though the economy has been a stressor, people still want to enjoy themselves. Three in five people said they traveled domestically in the past year, but more travelers saved money by visiting friends or family and finding bargains and cheap transportation. In addition, global manufacturers have been releasing more quirky, light-hearted new products.

More than two-thirds of Americans told Mintel they have been simplifying their lives during the past six months, and 9 out of 10 said they think there is too much emphasis on material things in society. As a result, manufacturers have launched more products to meet consumer desire for functionality, clean ingredient labels and simple packaging. Restaurants have even begun offering all-inclusive meal deals.

Finally, 8 in 10 Americans are cooking at home more now with 52% admitting to spending less at restaurants this year than last. Consumers are trading up in some areas with small luxuries such as fine chocolate increasing in popularity.

"We see new values taking hold as people adapt to today’s tighter economy," Mr. Foster said. "Conservative and pragmatic are in; excess is out. Consumers feel pessimistic about the future, so they’re taking cautious steps to ensure their safety and happiness now."