3 trends shaping consumer buying behavior
As US retail sales data begins to show the effects of recent economic turmoil, brands and retailers are looking hard at ways to stay relevant in shoppers’ wallets.
VISIONS 2022, a report released last week by Future Commerce, cites eight key trends shaping consumer behavior and culture. Future Commerce also surveyed 1,000 US consumers to understand how key themes manifest in consumer mindsets. Here are three of them, and how they relate to retail brands.
Trend 1: The homogenization of experiences.
“But for all its power, eCom has become boring. Homogeneous. Samey-samey. Decision fatigue spawns a sort of fixed price menu for buying things online that has led to everything looking and feeling the same. -VISION 2022
Partly because of the proliferation of software solutions for retailers large and small, there is an established playbook for how a website looks, feels and functions.
This is especially true for retail markets. Being so far ahead of the competition, Amazon
Consumers doing a side-by-side comparison of Target
Solutions like Mirakl and Marketplacer offer an incredible value proposition: turning any online retailer into a third-party marketplace. The downside is essentially a cut-and-paste interface that forces manufacturers and retailers to compete on product selection and price alone. Between these B2B marketplace solutions and mainstream website builders like Shopify, it’s not uncommon to see online stores start to get more and more familiar.
64% of consumers agree that it is rare to find a website that is unique or has unexpected features. Brands and retailers looking to break out of this mold have the opportunity to capture the imagination and curiosity of consumers who are ready for innovative new online experiences – to browse, discover and be inspired.
Trend 2. The sacraments of commerce
“Much has been written about secularization in the modern age. But what if our religious rituals were manifestations of human needs? truths that our souls yearn to discover? The ultimate desire of a brand? That we find collective identity, community, meaning and purpose. -VISION 2022
According to a study by Future Commerce, 44% of consumers become more superstitious or more open to ideas that cannot be rooted in logic or reason.
As a result, brands and retailers are trying to fill a spiritual void. Popular beauty brands like Glossier are considered to have “cult followings”. Indeed, Glossier founder Emily Weiss said in an onstage interview that the brand was inspired by the evolution of world religions.
On a lighter note, 89% of consumers say they have started — and maintained — new rituals since the pandemic began in 2020. Framing what was once considered a mundane experience of washing your face in the morning has transformed over time into “skincare rituals” and “nighttime routines”, among a wider cultural movement around self-care.
Trend 3. Our future robot
“Ideas and creativity derived from AI can become sympathetically influential – we can start feeding data to AI that is the result of decisions made by prior information influenced by AI. This feedback loop can create challenges for brand decision-makers.” – VISIONS 2022
We live in an age of convenience that many of our predecessors couldn’t imagine: voice assistants, 15-minute grocery delivery, and self-driving cars. Artificial intelligence is driving these innovations. But how much self-fulfilling prophecy do brands deliver to consumers?
As one research participant put it, “I bought a toilet seat from Amazon and now he thinks I have an insatiable desire for more toilet seats.”
Data from Future Commerce indicates that 43% of consumers have changed their digital behaviors in some way to avoid data collection or algorithm changes.
What does this mean for brands? The convenience bar is continually being raised and has proven to be non-negotiable. Amazon’s value proposition of free 2-day shipping set an uncomfortable bar many years ago, but is now table stakes for any online store. But there are limits to our future robot. Consumers are more wary of immediate effects — like algorithmic suggestions being turned off — as well as longer-term impacts on privacy and security.