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2021: The consumer trends to watch

2021: The consumer trends to watch

The Innovation team at Instinctif harness the best of the future to deliver market-leading ideas in the present. The team’s specialism spans digital strategy and marketing, data & analytics, and strategic brand. With the world and news agenda fast-changing around us, now’s the time to get agile in how we think and work.

This newsletter brings you the best of the week in the ‘new normal’, straight from the desk of the Innovation team.

2020. The year that feels like 10 years of history crammed into one.

Our lifestyles have been changed by the past (almost)12 months. And so have our mindsets. Here’s a quick look at the five consumer trends we forecast to dominate 2021:

The environment dominates

Although we’ve had a lot to distract us over the last 12 months – and the visual of disposable masks littering the world’s streets somewhat undermines our collective concern for Mother Earth – consumers at large have not forgotten about environmental issues. Neither should brands.

According to insights platform GlobalWebIndex’s ‘Connecting the Dots 2021’ report, 3 in 4 respondents stated that companies behaving in an eco-friendly manner had become more important to them post-pandemic.

Ensuring you put sustainability at the forefront of your business plan for 2021 will put you on the right side of the fence as the world works towards ticking off the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Having in place a strong ESG proposition is a great place to start – our Reinventing Responsibility proposition experts are on hand for any guidance you might need.

Speak up and act for social causes

There’s a lot to shout about in a noisy world full of issues and injustices. And consumers expect to see brands nailing their colours to the mast in meaningful ways.

Consumer insights from SproutSocial showed that consumers expect brands to be more socially conscious, with 70% saying that it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues.

That’s all well and good – but a word of warning: flimsy platitudes won’t cut it. Consumers are savvy and want transparency. We saw in the wake of George Floyd’s death brands being called out as hypocrites for stating a claim to being anti-racist – whilst having non-diverse Executive Boards and claims of employee prejudice laid at their doors.

The learning? Decide who you are as a brand, set your values and make sure the way you work honours them. Know why you exist, who you aim to serve, and how you aim to do this. Then you’ll be living your brand from the inside out, creating a customer experience congruent with your principles.

Technology: it’s popular

Top tip: the internet is really taking off these days. You heard it here first. And COVID has compounded our digital appetite.

Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Trends report, 66% agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their appreciation for well-designed technology, and 63% confirmed that after the pandemic has passed they intended to use digital technologies more than they did previously.

We’ve seen an inability to pivot and adapt to new technology being fatal to many brands this year. This week’s news that longstanding retail giant the Arcadia Group is staring into the abyss of administration shows just how tough it has been. Consumers of all ages from Gen Z to Gen X now rely on online shopping for the majority of their purchases.

The harsh message is this: evolve or go extinct. Embracing new technology such as online chatbots and livestream commerce isn’t a ‘nice to do’ anymore – it’s a requirement.

Acknowledge the individual

Yes, digital is ever-more ubiquitous. But brands who neglect the individual behind the screen do so at their peril.

According to the Mintel 2030 report, identity fluidity will continue to develop over the coming years, challenging the constraints of concepts like gender and sexuality.

For brands here it’s about embracing the diversity among their audiences, stepping away from categorisation. Labelling customers as a specific sub-set, a ‘type’ of person belongs to the past. In its place is the opportunity for brands to really get to know their community as individuals, celebrating the richness of differences among each of us. 

Through brands’ own communications channels they should be opening up the conversation in order to really get to know their customers, encouraging two-way dialogue and creating a community around their brand.

Frugality will be a new way of life for many

According to research by investment company Hargreaves Lansdown carried out earlier this year, the pandemic has meant that many have reigned in their spending – and intend to carry on doing so.

The pandemic has led to an uncertainty around the future, and with it an awareness of the need to have money saved for a rainy day. In the research, 31% reported an intention to cut back on impulse spending going forward.

For brands the job is to be aware of this mindset change and communicate/develop your offering accordingly. Cut away the surplus, get to know your customers and respond to what they really want/need at a time of shifting priorities.

Thanksgiving was last week, and Google has given us an insight into the what Americans were busy cooking.

In the last week alone, the number of searches for ‘stuffing vs dressing‘ jumped by 350%.

Looking into trends from the past year, we can see the unique searches of side dishes by state. During the meal prep, Californians looked up gravy, while those in Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky were keen on perfecting their casserole dishes.

Explore more here and see what people were searching on Instagram here.

This week the tip from the team comes from the Innovation team as a collective.

Our spirits were lifted with the news of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the thought that this might soon be available to some of our most vulnerable seems like…dare we say it… Christmas miracle?

But, for those of us with an inquisitive mind, the World Health Organisation is now revealing how we got there, in a guide which explains exactly how vaccines are developed, from investigation to approval. Read all about it here.

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