Global market research company Euromonitor International has released its Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2022. Euromonitor’s annual report defines the trends motivating consumer behavior and challenging business strategies in the year ahead. Every year, Euromonitor International identifies emerging and fast-moving trends that are expected to gain traction in the year ahead. These trends provide insight into changing consumer values, exploring how consumer behavior is shifting and causing disruption for businesses globally.
Radical lifestyle shifts in the past few years motivated consumers to make intentional, mindful and ambitious decisions. Now, the world is on the road to recovery. Consumers are putting their plans into motion, taking chances and seizing the moment. Access and action are the driving forces behind the top 10 global consumer trends in 2022. Resilience and adaptability were tested in 2021, forcing consumers to relinquish control and embrace ambiguity. This year, consumers are taking back the reins and paving a path forward based on their passions and values.
Faced with challenges in securing their usual or desired products and services, Backup Planners are looking for ways to purchase similar items or finding creative solutions to obtain alternatives. Supply chain shortages are forcing businesses to pivot and provide new solutions for customers to access products and services.
Due to limited resources, consumers are struggling to secure their go-to products. As social occasions and discretionary spending return, consumers want to buy new clothes, invest in home renovations or simply enjoy coffee on the go. However, the effects of COVID-19, particularly disrupted supply chains and staff shortages, exacerbate the issue.
Backup Planners are getting ahead of the crowd, taking control and using technology to move to the front of the queue when supplies are threatened. Certain consumers are relying on subscription services or community group buying to secure deliveries. When thwarted, Backup Planners are reverting to the next best option, seeking alternatives and in some cases, delaying purchases or changing shopping habits. Two extremes are influencing shopping behaviors of Backup Planners – paying a premium or switching to cost-effective options, such as buying secondhand or renting.
By late 2022, supply chains should start to stabilize and access to products should revert to pre-COVID-19 levels. Yet, new shopping habits will dictate how Backup Planners discover and select products, from locally sourced to direct-to-consumer brands to subscription services. Localization and optimization will become the norm. Companies and distributors should use data to improve supply chain visibility, hone operations and rethink investments.
Green activism and low-carbon lifestyles are here to stay. Consumers expect brands to step up and are taking action through the products they purchase as concerns over the climate emergency escalate. To win over Climate Changers, companies should offer products that are carbon footprint certified. Transparent labeling of carbon-neutral products builds trust and enables consumers to make informed choices.
Climate action is an extension of Build Back Better, with COVID-19 being a catalyst in the transition towards a net-zero economy. Consumers are becoming aware of their individual contribution to climate change. Eco-anxiety is driving environmental activism and purchasing decisions. In 2021, one-third of global consumers actively reduced their emissions and one-quarter used carbon offsets to compensate for them.
Climate Changers make more sustainable choices whilst demanding action and transparency from brands. There is no gap between climate awareness and intention to act. Consumers worried about climate change are also reducing the use of plastic, cutting food waste and recycling, among other activities. However, low-carbon diets, energy-efficient homes and sustainable travel are still nascent.
Businesses are tapping into the growing market for carbon neutrality. Companies are adjusting their portfolios to meet consumer demand for products with a lower planetary and ecological footprint. In 2021, 39 percent of professionals indicated that their company plans to invest in low-carbon product innovation and the development and launch of climate-friendly products.
Affordability remains an obstacle to make sustainable products mainstream. In 2021, 43 percent of professionals reported that the lack of consumer willingness to pay more for these products is a significant barrier, hindering business sustainability initiatives. Costs incurred from sustainable innovation, product redesign, supply chain fluctuations and certifications result in price increases that might become a challenge.
Digital innovation is reshaping how retailers, manufacturers and consumers transition to a new era of environmental transparency. Tech tools, such as digital product labeling and mobile tracking apps, help consumers trace ethical claims, their carbon footprint and recycling habits on their phones.
Millennials and Generation Z, especially, feel they can make a difference through their choices. This largest spending cohort of the future will use tools to ensure minimal climate impact. The more offerings that align with expectations of Climate Changers, the more brands will see their products and services resonate.
Older consumers were forced online as the world shut down. Now, familiar and comfortable with technology, Digital Seniors are empowered to make purchases and use services through this channel. Businesses have an opportunity to tailor their digital experience to target and meet the needs of this expanded online audience.
The global population aged 60+ will grow 65 percent from 2021 to 2040, reaching more than two billion people. This relatively wealthy cohort is gaining more experience and confidence using online services and choosing to adopt more tech solutions that assist with their daily lives.
Alongside browsing and shopping online, Digital Seniors embrace virtual solutions for socializing, health screenings, finances and learning. TikTok is one platform these consumers use, as a result of their digitally native grandchildren influencing and empowering them to be on social media. In fact, more than 60 percent of consumers aged 60+ visited a social networking website at least once a week, whilst 21 percent took part in video gaming weekly.
People aged 60+ are the predominant cohort of the top income band (USD250,000), accounting for nearly one quarter and making older consumers an important target for businesses. Optimizing mobile apps, social networks and websites for Digital Seniors will be critical to capture their spending power.
More than 65 percent of consumers aged 60+ are seeking simpler lives. Businesses that successfully cater to this demographic should develop easy-to-use devices and simplify existing technologies. Companies can also offer training and support to help educate these consumers. For seniors to adopt digital solutions, they must be frictionless and straightforward. If products or services are confusing to use, Digital Seniors will move to competitors. Businesses need to be agile and adapt to new user requirements.
The pandemic broadened older consumers’ minds to the benefits of the digital world. As older consumers embrace technology, human interactions will remain a prevalent component of how they engage with brands. Easy-to-use technology and seamless solutions combined with face-to-face communication define the future of digital inclusion for seniors. Building an agile plan directed at both Digital Seniors and elderly novices will enhance return on investment.
Consumers are gaining confidence in investing and becoming savvy savers to strengthen financial security. Financial Aficionados take control of their money and use services to track their transactions. Financial literacy is no longer restricted to Wall Street. Companies should provide tools and easy-to-use solutions to make any consumer feel financially empowered.
The pandemic brought job market volatility and risked financial security. Uncertainty, instability and lockdowns caused certain consumers like Thoughtful Thrifters to spend less and save more. Consumers turned to apps to make smart money moves.
Those with discretionary income became Financial Aficionados, increasing financial literacy and finding alternate income streams, such as investing in the stock market and turning hobbies into businesses. Globally, 15 percent of household disposable income was saved in 2019 compared to 17 percent in 2020. Over the same period, global consumer expenditure dropped 4 percent. This increased amount of savings and time at home, in parallel with decreased spending occasions, drove consumers to improve their financial position.
Money management apps that are consumer-centric, digestible, educational and simple stand to benefit in this era of financial democratization. These businesses will build customer loyalty at a time when trust in financial institutions is waning. Retailers and brands should collaborate with financial service corporations to facilitate alternate forms of payment, such as cryptocurrencies or buy now, pay later. The potential impact of Financial Aficionados, from increasing their investment rates and growing their financial acumen, cannot be underestimated.
The Great Refresh
The pandemic triggered consumers to make The Great Life Refresh, resulting in drastic personal changes and a collective reboot of values, lifestyles and goals. Businesses should innovate goods, services and experiences that respond to this once-in-a-generation moment, coupled with marketing that acknowledges and embraces the upheaval.
Crises can make people analyze and change their values. In the past year, consumers took inventory of their lives and are now actively trying to chart a new path forward. In 2015, only 12 percent of consumers prioritized time for themselves, which doubled to 24 percent in 2021. Consumers now have a higher appreciation for work-life balance. They are changing careers or leaving the workforce entirely to discover or pursue their purpose.
Shaken and Stirred consumers were motivated to think about their passions and potential. Now, The Great Life Refresh represents consumers’ actions towards achieving new goals. Change will remain the dominant trend that characterizes lifestyle shifts in the short term. Activities and products that positively impact mental and physical health, such as adopting pets or having the ability to travel while working remotely, are influencing purchase decisions.
Job markets across the globe are experiencing unprecedented turnover. Certain consumers chose or needed to leave the workforce, especially caregivers, prompting LinkedIn to add new job titles like “stay-at-home parent” to accurately convey these roles. Workers are navigating government benefits, health risks and their return to normal as well as broader personal values. Employees are looking for careers that accommodate their life outside of the office. Companies implemented Workplaces in New Spaces and realized productivity levels were sustained, which permanently shifted how, when and where work can be done.
Mental wellbeing is also a part of The Great Life Refresh. Downloads of mindfulness apps like Calm and Headspace surged to help reprieve anxiety. Pet adoptions skyrocketed, and global pet care sales growth doubled from 2019 as more consumers looked for companionship. Businesses need to accommodate consumer needs, wherever they are in life.
Consumers will continue to navigate the turbulence of the pandemic. Companies catering to The Great Life Refresh stand to be seen as partners, helping consumers adapt to a new way of life. Businesses should tailor marketing to acknowledge and support consumers’ decisions to take action.
Reverting to a pre-pandemic playbook might not have the same effect moving forward. Consumers will prefer brands that match the moment. Companies need to offer policies and products that provide value and support personal growth to drive loyalty.
The final five consumer trends — The Metaverse Movement, Pursuit Of Preloved, Rural Urbanites, Self Love Seekers, and The Socialization Paradox — will be investigated in the next issue of Flexo Market News.