A Synopsis Of Broad Consumer Trends

A genuine, emotional connection makes consumers feel respected and appreciated, writes Niranjan Gidwani

Tech With A Human Touch:

Digital is a dominant force, but tech can never match human nuances. While machines make convenience and speed possible, the power of emotional connections should never be underestimated. Businesses need to embrace Authentic Automation to strengthen the shopping journey or risk customer attrition.

Tech is only part of the equation. Consumers still crave the personal touch. A genuine, emotional connection makes consumers feel respected and appreciated.

One fact remains true: consumers are happy to and want to interact with humans as well as machines but for different reasons and at very specific points in the path to purchase. Therefore a one-size-fits-all may turn out to be the wrong strategy.

Humans and machines will need to be in sync to deliver meaningful solutions. Businesses should assess all touchpoints in the customer lifecycle. Then, and only then, find ones that can be fully automated versus those that should remain interpersonal to build stronger relationships with the audience. A crazily FOMO-Robotic rush may turn out to be chaotic.

Save Your Pocket While Saving Our Planet. “Eco-Know-Me”:

During the pandemic, it was safety that was paramount. Sustainability took a back seat. But lockdowns and quarantines ended up in creating hugely positive climate effects like improved air and water quality. 

Now, it is saving that is taking precedence, but the cost of living is creating a more disciplined and new sustainable behavior. Goods, energy and housing prices are causing people to cut back. More and more consumers are continuing to switch to energy-saving products, eating sensibly, reducing appliance use and indulging in smarter travel. 

Market dynamics have changed. Mobile phones are being used for longer, and activities like repairing, secondhand shopping and renting are on the rise.

Consumption patterns are less about acquisition and more about reduction, which positively impacts the planet. Business models have to strive to unify cost savings with green commerce.

Moving From The World Of Reality To Paid Escape Reality :

Gaming is going mainstream. People want an outlet for the stress in their everyday lives. This could however slowly turn into an addiction and a newer problem. But for now, online communities serve as a platform to socialize and connect with others who share similar interests. Gaming doesn’t only appeal to hardcore users and younger generations anymore. Some have even turned this form of entertainment into their occupation. 

Esports created a dedicated following and attracts millions of spectators worldwide. These passionate fans tend to buy brands that their favorite teams or players use. 

Whether we like it or not, gaming is here to stay. Organizations would need to determine how this entertainment sector would fit into their strategic plan.

Revenge Outing:

Consumers are navigating a return to reality. They’re eager to get on with their lives despite the uncertainties ahead. Traffic on the roads, at airports across the world, is an indicator. Companies need to prepare for a surge in “Revenge Outing” consumption. Businesses will need to bring back the fun, reengage consumers and help them attain a sense of normalcy. 

Concerts are making a comeback. Nightlife is re-vitalized. Restaurant reservations are on the rebound. From happy hours to exercise classes, consumers are resuming their in-person social gatherings to get back on track.

Offering the lowest prices online in such a phase may actually turn out to be counter-productive. This could be used as an opportunity for online marketing and pricing to nudge consumers into better buying deals in physical stores. 

A goal for organizations should be to encourage and support “Revenge-outing” consumers who want to get back into Revitalised Routines. Products, services and experiences that boost confidence will prevail.

Time For True Female Equality:

 Women are proactively challenging biases on a regular basis. They are actually proving that they are as or even more capable in a combination of complex head-and-heart decisions. Females can no longer be considered as a target audience for just cosmetics, skin care products, handbags and shoes.

It is only fair that female shoppers and consumers get fair representation. Limited product ranges or basic offerings won’t be adequate. It’s a known fact that more and more women buy from brands that advocate for their cause and personalize products to their size, age or life stage. In the workforce, women are expecting employers to set equal standards. 

Communication will need to be tailored, targeted, compassionate and relatable. Advocating for equal opportunities should be a corporate pledge—not an advertising ploy.

The New Gen:

The new generation is an economic force and accounts for nearly one-quarter of the global population.  These Young and Disrupted consumers are on the cusp of financial independence, and their unconventional upbringing is transforming business. 

They are born digital natives, used to online transactions and technology runs in their DNA. They are immune to traditional advertising. Authenticity and social impact make a difference. They want to feel a genuine connection when engaging with brands. And these outspoken shoppers and decision-makers are not afraid to voice concerns.

This generation is also getting into roles where they will make large-value B2B decisions. Hence it is estimated that B2B online business will grow at a more exponential pace than B2C in the coming few years.

Brand-customer relationships need to be mutually beneficial. These Young and Disrupted consumers are not inherently loyal, and yet they cannot be treated like transactions. They need to clearly see the value in their brand interactions to become repeat buyers.

To summarise, fatigue is setting in as consumers navigate chaotic and erratic times. Things that once mattered don’t matter—at least not in the way they did before. Consumers want to go about life fulfilling their daily duties without depleting their energy in the process. Both kinds will make the world – those with the urge and the means to splurge, and those that remain wary with their wallets. 

An effortless, comprehensive online experience is becoming more and more non-negotiable. Even for government agencies and banks. Those online platforms that save consumers’ time and provide the best cybersecurity along with sustained good experiences will ultimately attain success.

(Niranjan Gidwani is a Consultant Director | Member Uae Superbrands Council | Charter Member Tie Dubai | HBR Advisory Council)

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