So many things have changed with 2020, including consumer trends. Covid-19 affected everybody uniquely. The average buyer has not been an exception to the impact of the pandemic and many people have had to review their consumption and spending habits. With the uncertainty of the times, watching consumer trends and customer experience predictions is vital for businesses now more than ever in recent history.
What Are Consumer Trends and Why Is It Important to Keep an Eye On Them?
Consumer trends are the principles and values that guide buyers’ choosing of particular goods and services in comparison to others. Each individual is unique which means their choices and preferences will also be specific to them.
However, the individual is also influenced by their society and the culture that is around them. For example, if the society is wealthy and flashy, consumers may opt for branded purchases. That is the customer trend of that place. Thus, cultural and societal values drive customer trends, and you need to keep your team thinking innovatively in order to follow them.
A business that is aware of the demands and values of its buyers is simply more likely to succeed in keeping consumers in right through the sales pipeline. This means being aware of the current and future trends, so you can adjust your products and services accordingly.
Therefore, customer trend forecasting is important for creating a sustainable and relevant brand.
With the pandemic unsettling and shifting the nature of customers and their consumption, 2021 requires companies to be intuitive about what their audiences need and to transform their marketing and e-commerce to suit these needs.
Here are 5 consumer trends that will hit any businesses relying on marketing and e-commerce in 2021:
1. Public to Private
The slogan of this pandemic, aired and spread globally, has called for people to “stay home.” And millions, if not billions, have tried to obey for their health and that of their loved ones. This has left the public space desolate, as face-to-face experiences were limited. Essentially, consumers have gone private!
Consumers are also no longer comfortable with returning to pre-pandemic social etiquette and engagement, fearing exposure to the virus. A British study showed that 20 percent of people looked to continue shopping online for the foreseeable future. Brands now have to find ways to get their products inside people’s homes to support customers’ protection of their health.
Brands also have to cater to the changing needs that come with privatization. For example, with more people working from home, writing a blog about an in depth comparison of Glip vs Skype is more relevant than a piece on the cheapest travel options for commuters in your city.
2. D2C Delivered to Door
One consequence of the move to private is the rise of door-to-door delivery. Even physical shops have had to find ways to get their products directly to customers. In January 2021, 98% of consumers told Google Think they shop online. With the statistics above indicating customers indicating their discomfort with being in public areas, this is a result that is likely to continue evolving even in the post-pandemic world.
This has skyrocketed the potential of e-commerce platforms like Shopify. It also invites brands to set up omnichannel options for their customers.
3. Reviewing Spending Choices
But it is not just how consumers have their goods delivered that has changed. Buyers are also thinking more carefully about what they spend their money on.
The UN Work Agency predicted that hundreds of millions of people could potentially lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Covid-19 has severely strained customers’ pockets and they are revising their spending.
Low-income earners, particularly, are finding means to stretch their money. This includes moving from big brands to private-label products and avoiding non-essential spending. While higher-income earners are also cutting their spending, the reasons are different: guilt, hesitation, and more consideration of their money’s worth.
Either way, customers are spending less, and brands like Costco and Target are seeing an expansion and growth in their private label products.
4. Personalized Customer Experience
Personalized e-commerce is not quite specific to 2020 shifts in the same way as, say, managing virtual events, but it has been compounded by the circumstances that faced customers. While the majority of physical stores have begun to offer omnichannel experiences to their customers, in 2021 customers are set to seek an evolution of convenient multi-channel service.
Convenient and speedy online shopping and to-your-door delivery are no longer wow-features of a business. The recent pandemic’s demand for people to stay home has made these elements of e-commerce the new standard. In 2021, more companies will have to improve the personalization of their customer journey, utilizing techniques like Robot Process Automation (RPA) to optimize work.
Brands like Netflix and Shopify have begun using AI to develop predictive personalization, using past data and behavior to determine audience choices. There has also placed a spotlight on businesses’ virtual customer service options, increasing the need for collaboration tools for customer support teams.
Personalization is so key in customer’s purchasing choices that Forbes recorded that 91% of customers opt to buy from brands that give them recommendations and personalized offers and 66% would be deterred from making a purchase by a generic experience.
5. All Eyes on Brand Values
Covid-19 has not been the only thing shaking up customer trends. In recent years, a brand’s image, and values have become notable determinants of buyer’s spending habits. Basically, brand perception is increasingly linked to whether customers will buy from them or not.
Look at Nike for a moment. Nike is a perfect example of a brand that has taken on social responsibility and embrace political changes connecting with the 62% of customers who want brands to stand up for relevant issues.
Customers want to spend their money on companies that reflect their values. This was clearest with the political and socio-economic, political, and health crises in 2020. Consumers were keeping an eye on the responses of business and voting with their wallets and 26% of consumers said negative actions by a brand had an impact on their purchase behavior.
Essentially, the principle of customer trends is keeping an ear on the ground for how your brand can sustain and establish relationships with new and existing customers. If you think about customer trends this way, you truly realize the different avenues you have for discovering what these trends are.
You can read articles like this and conduct wide-scale research if you have the means, but learning customer trends can also be as simple as making use of customer reviews or conducting short surveys with your existing audience. The point is: listen to your customers because they are always right!
Richard Conn is the Senior Director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications and auto dialer software provider. He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia. Richard has written for sites such as Right Inbox and Flippingbook.