As the world moves with the times and also adjusts around Covid-19, consumerism shifts as well. With this comes a fresh approach to retail, spending habits and customer expectations. As a business owner, you exist somewhere in the supply chain and so it’s key that you do your research in order to understand how customers are beginning to think and behave. So here are five top consumer trends to watch out for in the year ahead.

1. The rise of virtual experiences

Community gatherings, expos and fairs have always played a major role in helping brands network and stay in touch with their customers. Companies have discovered that the trick to good execution and experience is finding clever ways to simulate personal interactions, by overcompensating in certain areas, paying careful attention to detail and leveraging on tech in unique and exciting ways. In the case of the Pandemic, a huge plus of virtual experiences lies in having the ability to reunite your community and avoid the cost of large in-person gatherings. But going forward this will continue to be a useful and practical customer engagement tool in general.

2. Discounts and no-name brands

In years gone by, customers were very brand conscious. While this still remains true in certain segments of the market, others have chosen to forego brands and find cheaper essentials. This means that there is a lot of competition in the market and brands are needing to offer discounted options to stay competitive. This can also be seen in online stores which are consistently offering large discounts, free shipping and promo codes.

3. Digital economy growing rapidly

Online shopping is flourishing. New customers are discovering the efficiency of online but also, but we are seeing a rise in existing customers purchasing even more online. Virtual grocery shopping has been one such area which demonstrates how much more comfortable customers are becoming with e-commerce. In other sectors, bricks and mortar stores are investing in their online platforms as a standard, extending their operations to include online services. Which then creates additional and sustainable revenue streams and market access.

4. Conscious consumerism

Finally, the global climate change threat is starting to land with consumers. This is creating a major shift where consumers are now putting pressure on retailers and brands to become eco-friendly and counteract the pressure, that they are putting on the environment. In fact, in many ways, consumers are withdrawing their spending from brands that are irresponsible with their production and distribution.

5. Hyper-local centres

In 2020 there were major shifts in international travel, closed borders, affected incomes and generally made consumers think very carefully about leaving the safety of their homes. This has been further encouraged with remote working. Now in 2021, people aren’t necessarily driving long distances to work and are preferring to stay close to home and only travel within a small radius. This means that the local community has become an important node of offering, creating a greater demand for local suppliers. This is a lucrative shift, but businesses have found that this needs to be encouraged and maintained in order to make it sustainable. This can be done through strategic segmented marketing which can be tweaked for the local market, in order to speak to the customer living just around the corner.

The bottom line

Human beings are incredibly adaptable. This has meant that in spite of the Pandemic, retailers, brands and consumers alike, are shifting expectations, building on what was already in the zeitgeist, capitalising on what’s available and innovating. So as a business owner it is your responsibility to not only adapt to change but to harness it in order to thrive as well!

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