Never have we experienced anything close to the changes of the past 18 months. For most of us, 9/11 stood as the most defining moment in our societal lifetime. For our parents and grandparents, it was the end of World War II or the Great Depression. But for those alive today—and especially for strategic marketers—the seismic change in human behavior due to the impact of COVID dwarfs anything we’ve ever seen.
So, as we continue looking at marketing trends for 2022, our series wouldn’t be complete without a glimpse at some of the major changes in consumer behavior. Understanding and appropriately reacting to these five trends presents a huge opportunity. And don’t be fooled by “consumer behavior,” as these trends also apply in B2B marketing strategy and communication.
Reimagining the Importance of Psychographics
Demographics were historically the holy grail of audience identification, segmentation and media buying. In the last decade or two, psychographics, or why people buy, have become more and more important. Our society’s recent battle lines drawn around COVID, politics and other cultural issues, mean that what people believe has become way more important than who they are or where they live.
A recent report from Accenture says: “A full 50% of consumers say that the pandemic caused them to rethink their personal purpose and reevaluate what’s important to them in life. Forty-two percent say the pandemic made them realize they need to focus on others more than themselves. These consumers—we call them the “Reimagined”—are changing their buying habits accordingly across all 14 industries we covered.”
This makes the Great Resignation no surprise, as people reevaluate their lives. And brands that can connect with what’s important to these consumers will be the big winners, even being able to charge more for their products and services.
The Opportunity from Lower Expectations
As consumers have been forced to lower their expectations due to supply chain issues and shortages of service staff, there is an opportunity for brands to surprise and delight. Brands that minimize excuses and find ways to delight customers—even if it costs them more in the short-term—will gain long-term loyalty. This will even force accelerated permanent changes in some industries, like virtual doctor appointments, paperless ticketing, meal delivery and store pickups.
Making Buying an Experience
Today’s consumers increasingly prioritize experiences over material goods, particularly among Millennials, where three out of four say they value experiences over things. This means brands that want to stay relevant must turn the customer journey—whether it is online or offline—into a thoughtful, memorable experience. In one study, 85% of business buyers and 79% of consumers said the experience a brand delivers is as important as its products or services.
It’s all about me (a.k.a. Personalization)
In this age of hyper individualization, people want to feel special. They expect brands to understand and respond to their individual needs. They want something that’s unique to them, not the mass marketing strategies of the past. To put it another way, your customers are craving a more meaningful connection with your brand. This could include experiences, products, pricing and even customization of the shopping process. Two out of three consumers say they will stop buying from brands that use poor personalization techniques.
Human Connection in a Digital World
Fueled by COVID, an increase in work-from-home positions and even the digitalization of our world, most consumers express a greater need for human connection. According to one PWC study, 82% of U.S. and 74% of non-U.S. consumers want more personal interaction in the future. This can include jobs, customer service support, shopping, trade shows and more. Ideally, brands will create technologies that seamlessly integrate with human interaction.
As you finalize your brand’s plans for 2022, don’t miss the opportunities presented by these behavioral changes. And if you need a little help figuring out how to take advantage of these in positioning or communicating your brand, give us a shout!