Consumer trends that can impact marketing strategy in 2022

Creative By Tuhin Chakraborty | Feb 02, 2022
From larger pack sizes at the retail level to an omni-channel experience for buyers, here are some marketing trends and strategies for this year.

New Year’s Revolution

While everyone hopes 2022 will allow us to move past COVID and the widespread disruption it has caused, it will continue to have a major impact in parts of the world. Even in countries where the markets are returning to a more normal state, there are clearly defined areas where businesses will feel the need for rapid and significant change – a set of narrowly focused, but deeply transformative revolutions, if you will.

Lengthy lockdowns have changed consumer mindsets, meaning that the marketers must rapidly understand and adapt to new behaviour patterns. Environmental concerns are higher than ever before, with the consumers likely to hold the brands to account on their claims.

"Consumers are shopping for groceries less often, but are buying more per trip. Brands should consider larger product units to cater to this reduced shopping frequency." - Tuhin Chakraborty

The nature, scope and preferred channels for both transactions and entertainment have shifted, and long-running concerns about the effectiveness of digital measurement, are becoming more urgent.

But this is not necessarily a bad thing; there certainly is a silver lining to this new reality.

2022 – the silver lining

WARC conducted a proprietary global survey with marketers in September 2021. An important finding was that industry optimism is high, with approximately three out of four respondents expecting improvements to their business in 2022.

While uncertainties will remain, savvy marketers, who are able to initiate transformative change in critical areas, can benefit from emerging opportunities. In several countries, the consumers are coming out of lockdowns.

However, even in these supposedly ‘back-to-normal’ markets, the consumers aren’t behaving in quite the same way as they did before the pandemic. In certain important ways, consumer interests, shopping behaviour and preferences have changed significantly, offering savvy businesses new tracts of opportunity in 2022.

There are several areas that the marketers can look at, in this regard.

Impact on marketing strategies – four key trends

While the true impact of the pandemic will take years to determine, early analysis indicates that these discernable attitudinal and behavioural changes can be categorised into four main trends. Each one will have an impact on marketing strategies over the course of 2022.

1. Home tethered

Forced to stay indoors for months, the consumers have grown more connected to their homes. They are moving further out of cities, in some cases, investing in home improvements and making more meals at home, with Google seeing searches for ideas on home design, kitchens and bathrooms rise sharply. But they’re not just inward focused – which brings us to the next point.

2. Increased gravity

The grave implications of the pandemic have re-oriented consumer mindsets more towards social issues. In Brazil, social initiatives from retailer Magazine Luiza and cosmetics brand Natura & Co. resulted in immediate increases in Google searches, Instagram followers and stock prices.

3. Wellness prioritised

A dramatically increased focus on medical issues, has resulted in the consumers being more oriented towards both physical health, as well as mental wellness. A GWI research has found that 31 per cent of the consumers are concerned about their mental health following lockdowns.

4. Digital accelerated

Lockdowns significantly accelerated a shift towards e-commerce, also complicating customer journeys. Mastercard estimates that  e-commerce made up roughly $1 out of every $5 spent on retail in 2020, up from $1 out of every $7 in 2019. Facebook found that  four in 10 consumers were buying things online that they used to buy in-store, previously.

Businesses that understand the ramifications of these changes for their brands, can develop effective strategies to benefit from any resulting market disruption.

There are some indicators that stand out.

Marketing strategies for brands – key indicators 2022

Falling frequency: Even now, the consumers are going out a lot less than they used to. A Kantar research found that the consumers are shopping for groceries less often, but are buying more per trip.

This also appears true for other activities, such as socialising and spontaneous outings. The brands should consider larger product units and tweak their packaging to cater to this reduced shopping frequency.

Staying local: A third of the consumers, who have returned to work, are spending more in their local area than they were before the lockdowns. The brands should explore the possibility of a better distributed presence on local high streets and suburbs, depending on their category.

Value driven: Despite the increase in household savings, the consumers are concerned about their financial future. They are increasingly basing purchase decisions on product value. The brands that can convince the consumers that they are offering the most value, both financial and personal, will benefit in 2022.

Multichannel journeys: E-commerce adoption has grown exponentially in the last two years, and this is already having a profound impact on marketing strategies. McKinsey found that 33 per cent of Indian adults, 26 per cent of American adults, and 16 per cent of French and Spanish adults liked buying online and picking up in-store. Gen Z, in particular, like combining digital and in-store experiences.

Brand owners see accelerating digital transformation to reach the customers across channels (69 per cent), rethinking the channel mix for consumer communication (66 per cent) and reviewing brand communication and positioning to address new post-COVID consumer mindsets (58 per cent) as the top challenges following COVID.

Emphasising digital channels (61 per cent) was the single most likely response to COVID, while improving the customer experience (54 per cent) ranked as the most important digital transformation priority.

The consumers are now switching between digital and in-store channels at all stages of the purchase process. The brands need to architect support for a variety of customer journeys across channels, creating a customer experience that offers flexible, but consistent support for a wide range of digital skill sets and mindsets.

In sum, a good interplay between offline or retail presence and an online, that is, digital presence will be the win-win strategy for the brands that want to see success in the marketplace in the days ahead.

The author is tuhin chakraborty managing partner of Drinkwater Design Studio his agency is a member of afaqs! Marketplace.

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