How consumer behaviour is likely to change in 2022

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How consumer behaviour is likely to change in 2022

"The customer is not a moron. She's your wife"

It’s a quotation made famous by advertising guru, David Ogilvy, in his book, Confessions of an Advertising Man. He made the remark in response to loud, aggressive and sometimes exaggerated advertising practices of the time (early 1950s). Ogilvy believed that advertising should be delivered in a softer and more sympathetic manner, treating the customer as an intelligent and capable human.

I sometimes wonder if it isn’t true, even today (though today, of course, we need to change “wife” to “spouse”, or “significant other”, or “partner”). Some digital ads really make me wonder (yeah, I’m talking to you, click bait).

You don't need to start with the premise that the consumer is a moron. You begin by believing that they are reasonably smart and can be persuaded to your point of view if given the facts, or a compelling story. Make no mistake - we are all capable of spotting hype and disbelieving it.

So, why are we marketing to human beings with fully-functioning brains like they’re a bunch of idiots? Spoiler Alert: They’re not. Today’s consumer has access to a plethora of information, and if there is any question about your product or service, chances are they’ll find it on their ‘smart’ phone. Get ready for more intelligent marketing, that is, marketing to an intelligent and informed consumer.

So many tools, so many options

While the term ‘savvy consumer’ was appropriate pre-pandemic, COVID-19 has brought about a whole new set of consumer behaviours, enabled by the digital tools at their disposal.

During COVID, more people and more businesses were forced to embrace the online world, and a report out of Deloitte shows that the same tools used to adapt to the crisis, were likely leading to long term habit changes:

  • Nearly 2 in 5 said that they had substituted a regular place of purchase
  • Approximately two thirds of respondents said they used digital tools to discover a new business
  • 60% of those who switched reported that they switched to a small business that was local to them
  • 40% of respondents had increased their use of social media and online messaging to obtain product and business recommendations

Whether it was an effort to support businesses in their community, or because the various lockdowns gave them no other choice, the tools of the global economy have helped to highlight the hyperlocal options all around us.

It’s because of…the Supply Chain

Supply Chain management is all about getting the right products, to the right place, at the right time and cost, to satisfy consumer needs. A consumer who orders a pair of kicks would previously have no idea where those shoes were made, who made them, under what conditions or when to expect delivery. Now that consumers have ready access to information on all these topics, they have gained considerable influence over the supply chain.

Over the holidays, because of the fear of shortages, people bought and continued to buy early. They were also buying more than they needed due to concerns that things wouldn't be available or there wouldn't be enough. Remember the great toilet paper shortage of 2020?

Developments in e-commerce and social media are continuously shifting our expectations and consumer buying habits. Do we know what consumers want today:

  • Convenience - shop online, anytime day or night;
  • Personalization - customization and tailoring;
  • Economy - overnight, and free shipping; and
  • Social responsibility - more sustainable practices and packaging.

This means the modern shopper now expects an experience that is fast and without fault, from their shopping cart, right to their doorstep.

Sourcing and product origin

For a large section of the population, COVID-19 provided an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate their current lifestyle choices, make adjustments and reset their lives. Suddenly, they were seeing themselves and the world in a different light. Not only did they want to know where products were made, but also, how they were made.

Consumers did and will continue to shop more with brands that make a commitment to addressing social inequalities. Take, for example, “Fast Fashion”. Fashion that is ‘fast’ in a number of senses: the changes in styles are fast, the rate of factory production is fast; the customer’s decision to purchase is fast; delivery is fast; and garments are worn fast – usually only a few times before being discarded. This probably means big changes ahead for the ‘fast fashion’ market, and the emergence of the secondary clothing market (check out Poshmark, Vinted, ThredUp).

Significant numbers are now applying new mindsets to where, what and how they buy. Through their purchase choices, consumers are purposefully seeking to influence their communities and the environment, and to confirm how they see themselves in the world. Read more in Accenture’s research report, Life Reimagined.

This past year’s marketing challenges were most definitely COVID related. But moving forward, we expect to see a little more intelligence, wit and humour - not to sell you, but rather, to make you want to buy. We like to think of this as marketing at its finest.