Consumer Trends 2022: What Are the Consumers Up to and What’s Next?
It has always been known that marketing is a beast that lives off consumer insights. The management process is responsible for profitably identifying, anticipating, and satisfying consumer needs.
And since the ways consumers behave and think constantly change, so does marketing. To stay ahead of the curve and anticipate consumers’ needs, marketers and business professionals must constantly understand what they are up to.
Since the pandemic, it has become even more challenging to keep up with the trends, with consumers’ behaviors and expectations changing at an unprecedented rate.
However, tracking consumer trends is still critical to success in any industry, regardless of how volatile the market might be.
What are the trends in consumer behavior in 2022, and what does the future look like for businesses?
Age Group is the Key To Finding the Target Audience
Marketers cannot deny that finding the ideal target audience has become more complex than ever. The traditional way of marketing, where businesses would produce a product or service and then look for an audience that needs it, is no longer effective.
Age groups, which we often label as Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers, have different needs, wants, and values. And Gen Z is glaringly different from the others.
Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, are the first true digital natives. They are, so far, the most diverse, tolerant, and inclusive generation. Compared to their predecessors, Gen Z follows the two consumer behavior trends:
- Price, quality, and product review highly influence purchase decisions.
- Brands with active communities are more valuable.
- YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are platforms for discovering and purchasing products.
Gen Z women use TikTok and Instagram the most, while men are more active on YouTube. It’s interesting how these social media apps have become more than entertainment and social networking platforms.
They are now powerful marketing tools that can reach and engage consumers, further supporting the need to consider the age group when planning marketing strategies.
Knowing how each generation shops can give businesses a starting point when trying to figure out where the target audience is.
Boomers and Gen X prefer TV ads, internet searches, and retail stores, with the former leaning close to social media.
Millennials and Gen Z rely on social media but differ on trusted apps. Consumers are everywhere, but they are not all the same.
Influencers are Now the Most Trusted Sources of Recommendations
Consumers used to trust the word of mouth and reviews from family and friends regarding product recommendations. Whenever we needed something, we would ask around and look for the best options. Nowadays, that’s not the case anymore.
30% of consumers said that recommendations from online influencers are more trusted than those from family and friends. This isn’t surprising since people have become more aware of the power of marketing and advertising.
In fact, about 60% of marketers reported that the most effective marketing trend was influencer marketing in 2021.
The shift from traditional to online influencer recommendations can be attributed to several things:
- The internet has made it easier for people to connect and follow each other.
- Social media platforms have given rise to a new breed of celebrities, social media influencers.
- These online influencers are considered experts in their niche and are, therefore, more trustworthy.
Online Search is Still Winning
While the younger generations lean on social media channels to find new products and services, most still find online search the most reliable way to do so. The same is true for consumers of other generations.
There are eight top channels that consumers use to learn and buy products, namely:
- Online search
- Retail stores
- Television ads
- Word of mouth
- Online reviews
- Social media
- YouTube ads
- Unboxing videos
Among these, online search is still the most preferred channel, with 36% of shoppers using it. It’s still the starting point for product research, regardless of age group.
However, if we split the data by age group, we will see that each generation has different preferences.
Whichever target age group any business plans to focus on, keeping the spotlight on online search is integral.
Mobile-Friendliness is Becoming More and More Crucial
41% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. Yes, that’s a significant number, and the trend will only continue to grow in the coming years as more and more people rely on digital devices for everything.
This stat alone should be enough to convince businesses that having a mobile-friendly website is no longer an option but a necessity.
56% of consumers use devices to look up questions in search engines. These findings reiterate the importance of mobile-friendly websites and optimization.
Businesses aiming for site growth should ensure that their site is mobile-friendly and provides an excellent user experience.
Web3 Is Already Big, Even If It’s Barely There Yet
Gavin Wood, a computer scientist, coined the term “Web3” in 2014 and introduced the vision for the internet’s future. In 2022, we know Web3 as the decentralized and more democratic internet, where users are in control of their data.
With Web3, third-party mediators are no longer needed as transactions happen peer-to-peer.
51% of consumers have little to no knowledge about Web3. Nevertheless, some consumers already use it, hinting that the potential is significant. The current state of Web3 is still in its infancy, with only a handful of projects that use the technology, but we can certainly expect more developments in this area. It’s safe to say that we can also expect a big impact on consumer behavior once this technology matures.
Videos Are Taking Over
It’s undeniable that videos have become one of the most powerful marketing tools. In fact, they’re the most effective type of marketing content! It’s no surprise that YouTube is the second-largest search engine, seeing about 30 million users daily.
Consumers are streaming videos more than ever, and businesses are prompted to create more video content to keep up with the demand.
Video content doesn’t just provide entertainment but it’s also a great way to show off products and services more engagingly.
Videos can help businesses increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads. They play a crucial role in the sales funnel, which means a strategy is also vital.
Think about what the consumers enjoy. What can keep their attention and make them want to spend on it? Humanizing the brand and creating a connection with the consumers is feasible through video content.
In-Store and Online Retailers Are Still Ahead
If the online search still wins in product discovery, in-store and online retailers are ahead in product purchase. Though social commerce is making a strong case, with 12% of consumers using social media to buy products, 73% still prefer to purchase products in-store and 53% through online retailers, such as Amazon and eBay.
Two of the leading social commerce platforms are Instagram and Facebook. Businesses take advantage of these platforms by providing shoppable posts, making purchasing consumer products easier without leaving the app. They’re also excellent re-commerce platforms where sellers and buyers can directly connect.
The trend is slowly but surely catching on, as seen in the growing number of social commerce platforms and businesses using them.
In-Person Work Is No Longer an Option
The pandemic changed how we work, with a growing number of people working remotely. For years, people were stuck at home after years of a 9-to-5 grind and commuting daily to work. The sudden change required sudden adjustments. And now, people are seeing the benefits of remote work and preferring it over in-office work.
Well, in-person work is still an option, especially for businesses that require face-to-face interaction. However, 54% of consumers say they’d rather quit than return to an office, which strongly indicates that the shift to remote work is here to stay.
The change in workplace preference shows that many consumers and employees prefer flexibility. They want the freedom to work from anywhere, which nurtures work-life balance.
These workforce trends are hints for businesses to consider before implementing a strategy that would only work in a physical office setting.
Creators Are Everywhere
When we go online, it’s impossible not to come across personalities who share their interests, talents, and lives with the world. With platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, anyone can create content.
We only need a smartphone, an exciting personality, and a considerable following. Next thing we know, consumers are raving about a particular product from a specific brand.
30% of 18-24-year-olds consider themselves content creators. The same goes for 40% of 25-34-year-olds. For brands, these analytics only mean an audience is willing to create content! We’ve reached an age where a consumer can become a marketing tool!
However, it’s important to note that while it seems like anyone can be a content creator nowadays, not everyone is cut out for it. It still takes a particular skill set to produce quality content that can attract an audience, keep them engaged, and make them want to buy a product.
Content creators usually focus on a particular niche, which gives them an edge over a generalist who would try to cover everything.
It’s easier than ever to be a content creator, but it’s not just about creating videos or taking photos. Creating content is about being relatable while building a personal brand.
Privacy Is a Growing Public Demand
Data collection has become more rampant as everything is gradually moving toward digitalization. The concern over how businesses use our data is at an all-time high, with consumers demanding a raise in standard data privacy measures.
Consumers are more likely to trust a brand that is transparent with its data handling procedures. So, how should marketers approach this?
76% of consumers feel they don’t know what businesses are doing with their data. Therefore, brands must let consumers know what data is collected and why. They should also allow consumers to opt-out of data collection if they’re uncomfortable with it.
Furthermore, businesses must ensure that the collected data is stored and used securely to avoid privacy breaches.
Data privacy is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. In the age of digitalization, consumers are more aware of how their data is being used.
They’re also more vocal about it, so brands must be extra careful with the information they collect and use. After all, a customer’s trust is at stake. And without trust, a brand has nothing.
The Future, According to Consumers
It’s been an astounding year for consumer behavior in the United States. With so many changes happening in such a short amount of time, it’s difficult to predict what’s next for consumers.
However, we can look at the current trends and use them to make educated guesses about the future. What should we be on the lookout for in the next few years?
Gifting Is the Way To Go
Loyalty points, discounts, and freebies will no longer be as effective as they used to be. There’s one new term that brands must start using to appeal to clients: “gifting.” And it’s not just applicable to consumers; companies can also use it for employee retention!
Brands that focus on gifting will have a competitive advantage. It makes sense because more people prefer to work remotely, and maintaining connections to clients and loved ones is becoming essential.
Simply put, gifting is a way to show that you’re thinking of someone and that you appreciate them.
Gifting can see a 28% return on investment on lapsed customers. 19% of consumers return within 90 days of receiving a gift from a brand! Moreover, brands can see a 36% increase in referrals when they hold a gifting campaign.
These numbers show that gifting can benefit both the business and the consumer.
Gifting, however, is not just about giving away freebies. Businesses should see it as giving something valuable to the individuals they value.
It’s an effective way to build relationships, create more connection points, and maintain healthy customer-brand tie-ups.
More Opportunities for Voice Search and Audio SEO
Apart from the rise of video content and the fall of text, another consumer trend businesses and marketers should start paying attention to is the rise of podcasts.
We’ve witnessed Spotify’s rapid growth in recent years, and other platforms are following suit. This indicates that people are now more open to consuming audio content.
This growth is good news for businesses because it provides another avenue to reach their target consumers. And with the right audio SEO strategies, you can ensure that potential customers can find your content. Voice search is a growing trend, and it’s one that businesses should start optimizing for.
You can open up new doors for your brands and reach a wider audience when you recognize these opportunities.
Shopping in the Metaverse
What is the Metaverse? According to Deloitte, it’s the term for what we describe as the next significant paradigm for business, socializing, and entertainment. It’s the future of digital technologies and networks, where people can interact with each other and digital content in a virtual space. When we say “metaverse,” we think of virtual experiences not bound by anything in the physical world.
Many of us still don’t understand the metaverse and its potential yet. That’s okay because it’s still in its early stages. We can, however, start preparing for it by understanding how it works and its implications for businesses. For now, we can study what’s currently available in the metaverse, such as the pop-up shops that some consumers are already visiting.
Hogan, an Italian fashion brand, has already explored the potential of virtual pop-up shops. Pandora, the jewelry brand, has also collaborated with Animal Planet and launched “Pandora Island,” an in-game virtual pop-up. These are examples of how businesses can start venturing into the metaverse and reach a wider audience.
30% of consumers said more brands should consider having a presence in the metaverse. The metaverse will significantly impact shopping behavior and how businesses operate. In this new reality, people can shop anywhere and anytime they want.
And with the right strategies, companies can reach consumers more intimately and personally.
In the near future, we can definitely expect more businesses to enter the metaverse and offer their products and services there. Maybe we’ll hear about a restaurant that exists only in the metaverse or a store that sells virtual clothes.
The possibilities are endless, and we can only wait to see what businesses will come up with next!
It can be a lot to take in, but these are just some consumer trends businesses should keep an eye on. Many other things are happening worldwide that will also affect consumer behavior.
Moreover, technology is continuously evolving, and new platforms and trends will emerge in the coming years.
What’s important is that businesses should always be prepared to adapt to change and meet the needs of their target consumers.
Whatever changes come our way, we should constantly update marketing strategies to reflect the latest trends. After all, the goal is always to provide the best experience for customers.
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