Posted on 25 September, 2018 | 5 mins
Next-day delivery, eCommerce, mobile shopping—some consumer trends are driven by technology and convenience. Others are moral decisions. Just look at the recent boom in consumers opting against plastic packaging.
The world has had plastic for more than a century. It’s been popular since the ‘60s and we’ve known about its harmful effects on the environment for decades. But only in the past few years have the majority of businesses decided to go plastic-free.
Today, consumer trends change quickly—and businesses are forced to act just as swiftly to keep up with them. Should they fail to adapt to the new normal, they’re likely to be hit hard—consumers famously vote with their wallets, after all.
Every industry feels the effects of very specific trends, many of which are hard to see coming. It all comes down to knowing your customers, something your business apps continuously help with.
Trends shouldn’t be feared, though. Act quickly enough and it’s a great way to stand out from the competition. So, here are 10 consumer trends to be aware of today, as they're almost certainly having an effect on your business—as well as three growing trends to watch out for in 2019!
10 consumer trends you should know about
1. eCommerce is not everything…
Some 82% of UK consumers believe going into a store to physically buy something gives them more security when it comes to expensive or recurring items or services1.
2. But it is essential
People use eCommerce platforms consecutively with bricks-and-mortar stores, with 47% preferring to at least research products online to help them make a decision before buying in store1.
3. Mobile taking poll position
Since 2014, there’s been a 39% increase in consumers using their mobile phones to make online purchases2.
4. Though your competitors might be getting it wrong
A third of our younger generations—the ‘digital natives’—find mobile websites difficult to use2. What chance do your less tech-savvy customers have if your business’ website is not up to scratch? Get it right and the digital experience is a fine way to make your business stand out.
5. Newer communication channels are proving very effective
Three in four consumers have interacted with a retailer via social media—and 40% say they’ve spent more as a result2. Are you on the communication channels your customers prefer? And are you being alert and responsive enough to make them successful in your business?
6. Retailers: don’t underestimate your return policy…
Having a good—attractive, clear and visible—return policy encourages 68% of people to buy more when using your online store1.
7. But prepare for consumers to misuse it
There’s an important consumer trend cutting into retailers’ profits, with 30% of people admitting to deliberately over-purchasing unwanted items and then returning them—often at the expense of the company, not the customer3.
8. Honesty is still the best policy
When asked what are the most important behaviours businesses can display, 91% of consumers choose honest communications about their products and services4. For many sales and support teams, the hard sell is long dead.
9. Marketers say we’re rising to the challenge
Good news! Many believe they’re meeting the challenges laid down by quickly changing consumer preferences, with 82% of marketers saying they actually have a deep understanding of their customers, thank you very much5.
10. But consumers say differently!
Bad news! Just 23% of consumers think the same5—someone is wrong, and it’s not the customers.
3 consumer trends to watch out for in 2019
Like we say, it’s hard to see around the corner when it comes to specific consumer trends. New products and services can become popular practically overnight—with the hype-train moving faster than ever thanks to social media.
Meanwhile, even age-old industries change with the times. Not many would have bet that independent book stores in the U.S. would enjoy a renaissance in 2018. But it happened. Sales at independent stores have risen 40% since 2009. The trend change? Consumers want a personal service within their community, and are willing to pay more for it.
Not everyone is a bookstore. So, broadly speaking, what’s next on the consumer trend horizon? We have three predictions:
1. More growth for ethical business
A third of consumers in the UK say they actively choose to buy from brands they see as doing environmental or social good6.
A good example is The UK’s eco-friendly travel and transport sub-sector6, where consumer spending has grown more than 2,500% since 2000.
With "social good" being a broad term, it's up to individual businesses to find a specific way to stand out in a way consumers want—be it by going truly plastic-free, reducing waste, donating a portion of profits to charity or sourcing materials from ethical sources. There's a growing audience just waiting to be catered for.
2. The continuous collision of data privacy and trust
Data privacy finds its way onto more people’s radars with every high-profile cyberattack, making it a constant and increasingly visible concern to cyber-conscious customers. And it’s also a double-edged sword—it can either help or hinder your business.
Some 82% of consumers will not buy from a business they don’t trust to protect their data. However, 75% say they’re willing to share their personal data with a brand they trust7. So, focus on improving your business cybersecurity to build consumer trust, and then use that trust to grow your customer base.
Even the biggest businesses in the world don't have impenetrable trust. In 2017, 79% of people said they trusted Facebook to protect their privacy. In 2018, and after damaging data breaches, only 27% now say the same8.
3. Authenticity will continue to win
It’s been a growing trend for some time, so why do so many businesses find it hard to be authentic? Perhaps they’re trying to appeal to too many demographics instead of being who they are. But it’s important to get this right—63% of global consumers would buy from a company they consider to be authentic4.
It’s not hard to be authentic, either; it's just resisting the urge to not be yourself. Consumers say4 the best ways are to:
- communicate openly and honestly with customers
- establish, share and stick with your values
- have a relevant and engaging story to tell.
Do you see other customer trends on the horizon in your industry? Jump on our Facebook page and let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts—and you might even get some fresh ideas yourself from the 9 Spokes community.