Consumer Trends Evolve in 2022

Euromonitor International, a global market research company, recently released its Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2022. Last week, Flexo Market News examined the first five trends — Backup Planners, Climate Changers, Digital Seniors, Financial Aficionados, and the Great Life Refresh. In this issue, FMN will examine the remaining five consumer trends that will drive the market in the months that follow. 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.

The Metaverse Movement
The digital world is evolving beyond virtual hangouts to immersive 3D realities. Consumers are embracing these digital spaces to socialize with communities. Brands at the center of The Metaverse Movement can build equity. These immersive environments can drive e-commerce and virtual product sales as access expands.

Physical and virtual worlds collided last year. With strict social distancing requirements, consumers learned how to stay connected, forming new online communities that offer a range of interactivity, from livestreaming to gaming. Social networks are advancing their capabilities, and in some cases, acquiring tech startups, to enter The Metaverse Movement. The constant stream of content and ability to go viral on video-dominant social platforms like TikTok and YouTube showcase the influence of community-based networks.

Now, online socialization is the preferred form of entertainment for many consumers, particularly younger generations, who spend more time playing games on mobile, desktop and AR/VR headsets. During The Metaverse Movement, consumers will outfit their avatars to explore virtual worlds alongside users from across the globe. The prevalence of shared, 3D virtual spaces will characterize a future rendition of the Internet.

Fashion brands and retailers are leveraging TikTok to crowdsource content and designs, promote products and train associates on how to build followings. In 2021, more than 30 percent of consumers bought goods or services after seeing an influencer post or company advertisement on TikTok.

Sports teams, gamers and artists have been using platforms like YouTube and Twitch to host live virtual concerts and events, and companies want to meet these consumers in-platform. Brands are buying billboards and product placements, among other advertising space, within these online environments. Virtual stores facilitate e-commerce sales and offer digital-only products for purchase, including non fungible tokens (NFTs), to dress and house avatars.

The primary goal is to build brand awareness among influential consumers who are pioneering platform engagement. Companies that start establishing a presence now will be at the forefront as virtual social environments and AR/VR develop. Innovative companies have already employed AR/VR applications in their business processes. Consumers using online games and video-first social media for streaming and socializing are establishing the groundwork for The Metaverse Movement.

Improvements in AR/VR capabilities and lower equipment costs will increase access to 3D virtual spaces. Consumers who already interact with immersive online social settings will spend even more time in entirely computer-generated environments. As The Metaverse Movement continues to gain tech-savvy participants, businesses must learn their role to increase brand recognition and generate revenue.

Pursuit of Preloved
Thrifting is trending. Consumers are moving from an owning to an experiencing mindset. Sustainability and individuality are removing the stigma associated with secondhand shopping and driving peer to peer commerce. Businesses need to do more with less. Investing in circular economy initiatives, such as recycling, rental or resale programs, will drive value whilst positively impacting the environment.

Consumers want to live sustainably and minimize environmental footprints. At the same time, affordability became a crucial factor during the unstable economic situation. Certain consumers also desire exclusive or unique pieces that may have a higher price tag. These drivers propelled secondhand shopping to the mainstream.

Vintage and slow fashion helped this trend flourish in the apparel market. Younger generations are on the Pursuit of Preloved, searching for one-of-a kind products. One-fifth of consumers will consider increasing purchases of secondhand items in the future. Consumers are continuously taking stock of their belongings to determine which items to keep, upgrade, resell or donate. The plethora of apps available to sell and buy secondhand and the desire for sustainable options are influencing the Pursuit of Preloved.

Companies are implementing new business models and embracing the circular economy as consumers shift to consignment shopping. Pursuit of Preloved has been prevalent in the apparel industry for years but is expanding into other fast-moving consumer goods.

Business models are evolving to include buy-back programs, reusable packaging initiatives, refurbished product offerings and peer-to-peer marketplaces. Gift cards, store credit and loyalty points are perks that encourage consumers to participate in these programs. Businesses that find opportunities to tap into the Pursuit of Preloved can benefit from an additional revenue stream.

Recommerce will become increasingly prevalent and cover more categories. Consumers will continue to consider secondhand items when shopping for durable goods, especially. Platforms and aggregators will offer different brands and resell options to meet consumer demand. Additionally, companies need to reuse or recycle materials for new product development and to reduce waste. Pursuit of Preloved will inevitably improve sustainable production and consumption and brand reputation as a result.

Rural Urbanites
Suburban and rural communities offer more spacious housing and greener scenery, luring consumers out of the metropolitan area. City dwellers also want these benefits brought into their neighborhoods. Businesses that strengthen e-commerce distribution, expand sustainable product lines and cater to Rural Urbanites will emerge as winners. Last year, consumers were searching for an Outdoor Oasis, relocating to rural areas temporarily or spending more time in nature. Now, Rural Urbanites are making this move permanent.

The benefits of city living, including proximity and convenience, were hindered due to lockdowns and remote work. These consumers felt confined to their small spaces whilst paying higher living costs without the associated perks. Meanwhile, better air quality, less congestion and desire for simplicity and sustainability are becoming key selling points for the suburbs, countryside or smaller cities. The relocation trend is especially relevant in developed countries, given the smaller infrastructure gap between cities and suburbs, shorter commutes and lower housing costs.

Not all consumers are ready to give up urban life. The need for green spaces near homes and faster, cleaner commutes is reshaping dwelling preferences for Rural Urbanites who stay in the city. In general, consumers are investing more in their homes and communities as they spend more time there.

As work becomes less tied to a physical office consumers are moving both within and beyond city limits. New business opportunities are emerging alongside this mass relocation influx. Scaling e-commerce distribution is vital. Establishing micro-fulfillment centers and increasing last mile delivery can better serve rural communities and expand the customer base.

Incorporating more sustainable initiatives into metropolitan areas will resonate with Rural Urbanites. Indoor farming and rooftop gardens could bring locally sourced produce within walking distance for city residents. Repurposing vacant or unused infrastructure into public parks and green spaces positively impacts these densely populated communities. Businesses and governments are striving to create mini cities where shops, restaurants and schools, among other establishments, are within a 15-minute commute.

Consumers want safe, clean and green environments, whether in the city, suburbs or countryside. Spacious and sustainable communities will dictate where Rural Urbanites choose to live. Regardless of location, brands and businesses need to adjust their strategies to retain customers. Expanding brick and-mortar outlets and services whilst investing in e-commerce will help companies reach a broader audience.

Self-Care Seekers
Acceptance, self-care and inclusion are at the forefront of consumer lifestyles. Self-Care Seekers prioritize their happiness, feeling comfortable in their own skin and indulging in goods and services that elevate their sense of self. Businesses need to create deep connections with customers. Products that evoke physical, emotional or spiritual wellbeing will resonate and enhance the lives of Self-Care Seekers.

Consumers crave comfort and love as life returns to normal. No longer in survival mode, these consumers are embracing the future and are proud of overcoming hardships. Self-Love Seekers appreciate their worth and accept their struggles and flaws. Owning these realities enables these consumers to be their own source of happiness.

Self-Care Seekers invest in taking care of their bodies and minds, from what they consume to the products they use. They splurge in ways that match their lifestyles whether purchasing a cannabis infused product or a luxury handbag. Products and experiences that empower these consumers to be their best version will drive purchase decisions and loyalty.

Indulgent product innovations are booming globally across industries. Beauty brands are offering salon-quality products at home. Food and beverage manufacturers are investing in functional ingredients and low- or non-alcoholic drinks as consumers seek healthier options. In Western countries, cannabis-infused products are thriving whereas luxury goods continue to outperform in China.

Businesses are investing in technology to provide tailored care. Personalization will advance and shift towards mass acceptance across sectors, such as beauty, personal care and consumer health. Additionally, marketing and offerings need to be inclusive. Brands are breaking stereotypes and societal norms, allowing Self-Care Seekers to feel comfortable and confident expressing their true selves.

Consumers will focus on personal growth and acceptance, as uncertainty continues, but to varying degrees. Businesses need to support consumers on their journey and understand their priorities to inform innovation. Offerings that help consumers feel fulfilled, positive and self-assured will improve brand perception. Investing in technologies, such as AI, can facilitate more sophisticated personalized solutions. Most importantly, Self-Care Seekers purchase products and services that align with their motivations and identities, which should stay at the core of business strategies.

The Socialization Paradox
Consumers are approaching a return to pre-pandemic life in different ways based on their comfort levels. Certain consumers are eager, whilst others are hesitant, to resume their normal activities, creating The Socialization Paradox.

Companies should provide seamless solutions and multiple options across channels without sacrificing the experience. Recovery is on the horizon. In 2021, 51 percent of consumers expect their lives to be better in the next five years.

The Socialization Paradox defines the many ways consumers are returning to their usual routines. Certain consumers acclimated to life in lockdown and will continue to make purchases for at-home consumption. Others were Restless and Rebellious during the height of the pandemic and are ready to fully participate in society again. Between these two preferences are those who desire a form of normalcy—willing to venture out for select activities—but are still cautious and concerned about their health.

Businesses pivoted and showed resilience, offering digital options to compensate for physical visits. Hybrid business models need to create a seamless customer experience regardless of the channel. As focus shifts from survival to growth, companies implementing these models will be able to easily transition between phases of recovery. Flexible policies, such as waiving cancellation fees, could accommodate fluctuating restrictions and comfort levels.

Each country will reopen at differing stages. Domestic tourism is rebounding, settling pent-up demand for leisure and hospitality. As consumers take more trips, businesses can recapture travel spend. Whilst consumers are shopping online for convenience or safety, they also crave meaningful interpersonal connections. Using a blended approach to cater to consumers’ new norm is crucial.

The Socialization Paradox is a behavioral phase influencing consumer habits. Consumers want to socialize but demand a flexible approach. Businesses should be receptive and provide a seamless experience with innovative and adaptive solutions. Remote work and virtual events will co-exist with in-person engagements, but consumers want the option to choose. Companies need to be considerate of fluctuating comfort levels. Hybrid business models will put consumers in control of their desired experience.


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