Whether you’re a product designer, entrepreneur, business leader, a marketer or an influencer, understanding what consumers want and need is an essential part of your role and future success.
Of course, there are times when you can create the next big thing from your own experiences and capture the attention of millions, but that type of success is pretty rare. That’s why finding out more about, and understanding up-and-coming consumer trends is such a vital part of encouraging engagement and securing sales.
While some companies can be aware of the demands, needs and trends of their existing consumer audience, that’s not always enough to drive forward expansion and raise brand awareness. If possible, you should try and continue delivering those things your existing audience wants from you, but diversify with trends and developments that can attract a more expansive pool of potential users, followers or customers. By combining techniques, your business is in a stronger position to gain more interest from even more consumers.
I keep a close watch on consumer trends and have seen how things developed in 2019. With that insight and also taking into account other elements, such as technology concerning different industries, I want to share the top consumer trends for 2020. Not just those that can enhance brand awareness but also, those that can help make you as a business, individual or more comprehensive brand reach even more consumers on a global scale.
Eco-conscience, wellness and mindful consumers
In 2019 there was clear evidence that around the world, more and more consumers were thinking about where their products come from. This includes what impact their personal choices and habits have on the broader environment and their wellbeing, too.
According to research from Mintel, some 38% of consumer said they trust a product with fewer ingredients than those with a longer list. While that’s still short of the 50% mark, it highlights that more people are thinking about precisely what goes into the products they eat and use. That suggests they’re considering:
- Where those products come from.
- Are the ingredients natural or artificial?
- Are those ingredients good for me?
- What is the impact of the product on the environment?
- What is the human cost in the manufacturing process?
These days consumers want to know more about the products they buy and use, and if they’re comfortable with the ingredients and processes that entails. If you can show that you’re using the best, most environmentally friendly and sustainable options possible, while keeping the price-point at the right level, then this is something that will impress many consumers.
But even if your product is ultra-affordable, more consumers and users will question why that is and if they’re ok with it.
While it is true many of us have been aware of the cheap labour that is regularly employed in the fast-fashion industry, genuine feeling that it shouldn’t happen, in any industry, is on the rise. That means if you can find that magic formula of affordable goods, with a transparent journey from raw material to the store-floor, more consumers will be interested.
The same is valid for food. There is now more interest in plant-based alternatives to meat. However, if a seller or producer can show the carbon footprint of their meat is low, and the production of it is sustainable, it should get the thumbs up with a more substantial proportion of consumers.
Take organic food as an example. While few studies can conclusively confirm organic produce is better for us than non-organic food. The main driver behind the popularity of organic food is the process by which its farmed is more natural and sustainable and better for the environment. That highlights that even when the physical benefits aren’t definitive, consumers place greater importance on the broader sustainability issue.
This phrase was bandied about A LOT in many retailers’ capital markets events in 2019, and many consider authentic omnichannel offerings to be the holy grail for all businesses, particularly in the retail industry. However, vast chasms remain between:
- Knowing that you need to provide consumers with that actual omnichannel experience.
- Understanding what that translates into for your industry.
- Creating the right blend of instore reality, digital offerings and customer service to achieve it.
Most businesses now realise that an omnichannel offering doesn’t mean paying lip-service to a physical store presence while focusing most of your budget and time on digital. That’s the same for traditional stores who have been around for years and newer businesses who began life online.
Amazon, the ultimate online retailer, is an excellent example of understanding the critical role physical stores still have to play for consumers, in the world of retail. Amazon Go stores work similarly to their online sites as they require the app and digital payment options for customers who visit them. However, that physical store makes it accessible to more people. It also delivers on transparency – customers can interact with the items that were previously only available through Amazon online.
Meanwhile, fast-fashion store H&M was once the darling of the European high street but then fell from grace as online fashion stores grabbed their slice of its customer base. After some time in the wilderness, the chain re-designed its logistical management and incorporated a stream-lined supply-chain and delivery process. It took time and investment but has now proved beneficial for its customers. Add to those new store concepts and partnerships with independent brands and they have finally hit on the right omnichannel shopping experiences that its customers can identify with wholeheartedly.
As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all in our brave new world of retail. While precise guidelines can work for the many if you want to be among the few who can get it right, you need to focus on what omnichannel offerings mean to your brand and your consumers.
Consumers are so much more well informed than ever before. That’s partly due to the globally connected environment we now live in thanks to, still developing, technology. Indeed, 42.6% of the global population has a smartphone, while over 66% have a mobile phone.
That connectivity to the internet means that more consumers than ever before are aware of what’s available. It also means they want the ability to choose their preferred options for their consumption.
However, while consumers are aware of what’s available, the trend of personalisation extends beyond that. It also works on a marketing level too; if a business can personalise their approach to existing customers and potential ones to smaller demographics, or even on a person-by-person case, the chances of securing their custom increases.
A series of statistics highlight that personalisation works and that more businesses want to improve their ability to personalise their marketing approach:
- 74% of marketers say personalisation delivers higher engagement.
- Personalised emails secure transaction rates that are six times higher than generalised emails.
- For some businesses, personalised videos have resulted in click-through rates that are eight times higher than non-personalised video content.
- Some 50% of businesses expect to increase consumer interaction with more personalised emails.
- Personalised marketing campaigns are the ambition of 66% of marketers.
- Among customer insights and marketing professionals from different industries, 94% said that personalisation is essential to them achieving their marketing objectives.
It’s pretty easy to see that personalisation works, and that’s why businesses want to deliver more of it. To make sure you get a personalised marketing approach right between your brand and your users and consumers, it can also help to understand why it works.
You might think it’s a complicated answer, but really, it’s quite simple:
- Online advertising means that in the past few years, people who spend any of their time online and particularly on social media have been bombarded with a lot of generic ads. So much so, that those ads begin to fade into the background. With personalised ads and content, an online consumer will recognise that a personalised ad is relevant to them, and this can encourage them to take notice.
- Also, personalised advertising works as a kind of filter. Businesses only show consumers what they’re genuinely interested in at that time. By only showing your target consumers, engaged customers or existing clients’ details about things you know they’re interested in, they come to associate you with being a brand that doesn’t overwhelm them with unhelpful information, data or offers.
Buy while on the go
This is something that even just a few years ago, wasn’t really in the minds of many – either on the business or consumer level. Enter 5G, developments in voice payments and more secure technology and buying as we’re on the move or on the way somewhere, is a new trend that really could appeal to a broad consumer audience. That’s particularly the case if those businesses who offer it can do so in a convenient, secure and reliable way.
For example, as in-car technology improves, partly due to developments in electrical and self-driving ambitions and partially down to more reliable internet from 5G, research suggests that some 50% of UK and US drivers are currently excited about the ability to buy while you’re on the way to somewhere.
This could mean if you need to buy a gift, you can place a voice order while in your car, and a business can deliver it once you’ve arrived at your destination. Or, if something went wrong with the items you planned to take on a trip with you, a quick chat with your in-car Alexa or another online assistant can mean you don’t have to go without when you get there.
Of course, it’s not just about convenience. Buy-as-you-go could work in times of crisis too. You could order medicines en route. Or the same could work for parts needed to repair appliances.
With the potential to utilise consumer demand for on-the-go technology across a wide array of industries, this could be an area of investment that could deliver returns beyond how you engage with your target audience. As this is still a new technology and consumer trend, if you can create an experience based on transparency, security and reliability, it’s something that could be marketed on a business-to-business level, too.
While some of these consumer trends aren’t particularly new, how we understand them has improved. That means brands and businesses can learn from early adopters and pick out the details that work well and would be best suited to their consumer audience. This is where personalisation works on a business level too.
Onviously, every business wants to be able to deliver what their consumers want, and they want to do that as quickly as possible. But if marketers and companies have learnt anything from digital consumer behaviour and technological developments, it’s that sometimes, taking your time to create the right system, process, product or supply chain will pay more significant dividends in the end.
That means if you want to focus on any of the key consumer trends I’ve identified here unless you know of the perfect option that’s ready to go, you could be better off creating your own process or system that works for your business, existing customers and target consumer audience.
You may find that you’re already aware of these trends and are looking for the next big thing, or you’re still working towards delivering best-in-class on what you already have. Whatever the case may be, understanding what your consumer wants, if it’s possible for you to achieve it and how best to do so, is the right way to grow your business and gain the reputation, profits and returns you want.