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The Great Shake Up: Four trends defining the consumer experience of 2022.

The Great Shake Up: Four trends defining the consumer experience of 2022.

By Laura Scobie
SVP, Strategy

The Great Shake-Up: Four trends defining the consumer experience of 2022

The volatility of the last 24 months has created important shifts in consumer needs and behaviors. The following trends — covering consumers’ buying experiences to how they use your product or service — can help you create richer experiences and brand connections.

  1. DON’T EXPECT TO SEE consumers settle into a “new normal.” Plan for needs and behaviors to shift and change regularly. If it takes 30 days to form a new habit, consider that consumers have had 24 chances to do just that since March 2020.  Habits formed during the first 60 days of lockdown in 2020 shifted to a different set of behaviors as things opened up — and shifted again with vaccines, Delta and Omicron. This leaves people with a mixed, messy bag of needs born from life right now plus some behaviors carried over from pre-pandemic life. Implication: Treat customer needs as fluid, not static. This is a shake out and settle moment. Don’t wait to study them.  A “once every 5 years” audit of consumer needs & behaviors doesn’t work anymore. Shift to new tools to take a pulse of your consumers’ needs and behaviors. Think monthly panels with your best consumers, or quarterly diaries to see how their shakeout behavior changes over the year.
  1. Because consumer behaviors will continue to morph, EXPECT TO SEE “the brand I’m going to purchase right now” up for grabs. Figure out how to get your brand considered as early as possible. Consumers are switching brands fast and often. A study from McKinsey shows that 58% of consumers change brands from one purchase cycle to the next. Fast switching is now fueled by their own evolving needs, runaway inflation and availability due to supply chain issues.

    While increased switching of brands puts pressure on loyalty programs to step up, it’s also a great opportunity to be considered by a new set of prospects. But the key is to get your brand in early. According to McKinsey, nearly 70% of brand choices are made at the beginning of the journey, when a consumer is first triggered to shop. Implication: Identify prospects that should be buying your brand right now but aren’t — and  develop strategies that get your brand into their initial consideration set. This is a great moment to see what new needs your brand solves. Conduct a few experiments with light or nonusers to see where you may find new and emerging audiences. Look at conquesting: Study your top competitor’s consumers and find what it would take for them to switch.

  2. As social platforms engage in new ways, EXPECT TO SEE more people shop as they scroll. Make your brand shoppable by designing for discovery. People come to social platforms to connect with new people, ideas and products. While their sole intention isn’t to shop, people do buy on social platforms when they’re able to discover brands and products that fit who they are and how they live. Cruising through your social feed and suddenly a brand seems to find you — giving you gift advice you didn’t know you needed or the trip you didn’t know you wanted to take.

    Start with who you’re designing for. Lily Wyckoff, Creative Industry Lead at Meta suggests identifying where your audience is on the relationship spectrum with your brand. Latent: The audience hasn’t heard of your brand, so design an experience that sparks inspiration because you aren’t on their radar. Aware: The audience only knows of your brand, so create an experience that feeds brand curiosity, drawing them in to learn more and close the loop. Connected: The audience needs fresh ways to engage with your brand, so reward them with experiences that enable them to discover new facets of your brand.

    Implication: Create for social commerce. Develop engaging brand experiences that invite people to explore first. Drop a serendipitous brand experience in their digital path, blending in with the social environment organically so it feels like a moment of discovery.

  3. With a range of disruptive technology coming all at once, EXPECT TO SEE a growing desire for human experiences in digital environments. Intentionally design humanity into digital experiences. New technology like 5G, the metaverse and AI are opening the door for brands to create completely new immersive digital experiences. Within these enhanced digital environments, people will still desire to have a human, personalized experience with your brand: be empathetic, meet both emotional and rational needs. Implication: Design for digital humans. Digital humans live within a 5-7-inch rectangle, but they still want to discover, connect and feel that there are people like them on the other side of the screen. And they want to interact with your brand in human, conversational — not robotic — ways. Use digital brand experiences that are refreshingly honest, speak explicitly about what you’re trying to do (selling, connecting, exploring) and know that the digital human seeks both entertainment, information and connection all at once. 

Barkley US

Mar 11, 2022

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Modern Consumer,Whole Brands


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