The last two years have taught us the hard way that no one can predict the future.
But consumer trends can give us an educated guess as to the next direction of the market, and help build your strategy for the year ahead. Existing patterns can teach us a lot about the successes – and failures – of the previous year, and gives your business an opportunity to reach further than ever before, finding new solutions.
With that in mind, we present just five key consumer trend predictions for 2022.
1. SMART TECH GETTING SMARTER
We all know that consumers are shopping online more than ever before, with ecommerce accounting for 36.3% of all online sales in the UK alone.
But it’s not simply an increase in buying online that we’re observing – it’s the way consumers are shopping online. The rise of smart devices is causing a major shake-up to the typical online checkout journey, from our mobile phones and tablets to speaker systems like Amazon’s Alexa, which is seeing an uptake in sales made through voice search – something we’ve talked about previously on this blog.
And it will surprise no one to learn that this trend is going nowhere. So the best way marketers can respond is simple – put your best foot forward online. Optimising for users on all devices, from PCs to mobile and tablets, and optimising your SEO strategy for voice searches, will ensure accessibility of your brand across devices.
Being online isn’t enough. It’s about how you present yourself – and crucially, who you’re presenting yourself to. So by ensuring your customers can find and use your site, however they’re looking, you’ll secure a wider reach to your audience.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA AS A SALES CHANNEL
It’s by far one of the biggest ecommerce shake-ups of the past two years, as platforms like Instagram have introduced in-built shopping tabs that let users make a purchase without even leaving the app.
Instagram and Facebook have led the way, but TikTok, Twitter and Youtube are all set to follow suit in the coming year, meaning your social media marketing will be more crucial than ever in driving not just engagement, but tangible conversions that make your business a profit.
This new feature will play a crucial role in cutting the number of steps in a consumer’s journey between the discovery of a product, and the purchase. When these steps are in place, brands with a strong social media presence that generates initial interest with a customer are well positioned to make sales in that digital environment.
You can prepare for the rise in social media shopping by priming your content on these platforms to encourage those engagement and interactions – your social media marketing strategy already plays a vital role in promoting your brand, as studies show that two thirds of shoppers turn to social media to research a product before buying. Once this crucial point of connection is secured, consumers are far more likely to take advantage of in-app shopping features.
3. ‘SHOP LOCAL’ IS HERE TO STAY
‘Shop local’ has been a major theme of the pandemic, with more and more consumers actively choosing small businesses over big brands in an act of solidarity.
And now more than ever, consumers are increasingly appreciative of the bespoke customer service experience small businesses can offer, that big brands just can’t compete with.
So if you’re a small business owner, this is great news for you. Capitalising on this trend is all about how you connect with your audience, both in your digital marketing strategy and the ways you build community and loyalty with your customers.
A solid local SEO campaign that optimises for ‘near me’ searches, and good customer service – online and in person – will secure those crucial relationships with your customers to foster loyalty.
4. SPEED IS KEY
Thanks to the core web vitals update, Google now places a huge importance on speed in their search ranking factors.
And from a UX point of view, waiting is no longer expected to be a part of the shopping journey. Whether they’re visiting your site for the first time, making a purchase, or seeking responses to their customer service queries, consumers expect sites – and brands – to be faster than ever before.
That said, it’s not just about the speed of your website. As users’ attention spans are shorter than ever, it’s a competition to connect quickly and meaningfully. When the average consumer sees between 4000 and 10000 adverts a day, it’s up to you to make a powerful impact on their shopping choices.
But now more than ever marketers are recognising the value of micro-moments – those moments where users reflexively turn to a mobile devices without thinking about it. By making your brand available online for these micro-moments – for instance, your PPC advert appearing in search results when a user decides to search a spur-of-the-moment query – you’re in prime position to take advantage of this everyday spark of inspiration.
5. COMMUNICATION IS CRUCIAL
In 2022, your values are, well, valuable!
And building connections with your audience is now about far more than just sales – the quality of your products and services will go a long way to strengthening the bond between you and them, but they’re no longer the only factors that matter. In 2022, it’s all about building relationships.
The modern-day conscious consumer is thinking more than ever about social issues, and how the brands they contribute to respond to these.
A great example is the way in which consumers are thinking about sustainability. Increasingly a priority for many customers, 2021 research from Google’s Consumer Insights proved that this issue is more influential than ever before in the ways that customers choose brands. As their attitudes evolve, they expect to see business’s make progress similarly and tell positive stories that reflect change and action.
So while it might sound like a cliché, your brand can respond to this demand by wearing its heart on its sleeve and being transparent about missions and values.
These are our five consumer trend predictions for 2022.