Our world is changing and, together with it, our preferences and requirements as consumers. These consumer trends dictate how the business environment can accomplish customers’ exigences.
Recent years have made many consumers more conscious about what they want, where they buy from, and who produces those goods. As a consequence, businesses make supplementary efforts to retain their existing clients as attracting new ones is increasingly difficult.
In these new conditions, companies need to find the right balance between improving the customer experience to align with demands and obtaining economic efficiency.
Let’s dig into the most prominent consumer trends for 2024 and comprehend how do trends influence consumer behaviour to have a clearer picture of what businesses need to adapt to.
Consumer Trends: Innovation, AI, and New Technologies Are Expanding, and So Are the Concerns Related to Them
Technology innovations impact multiple sectors like e-commerce, financial services, consumer packaged goods, B2B, etc. And they redefine how businesses interact with their customers.
Most often, innovations are perceived as double-edged swords. For example, we are fascinated with the potential a technology like AI has, but we are also worried about what its widespread might mean for humanity.
When integrating AI into their strategies, brands need to have a deeper understanding of what we, customers, want and what our concerns are. Getting granular consumer insights will help them respond to their audience adequately in 2024.
Using AI to improve shopping experiences is a win, as consumers are enticed to buy.
According to Statista, 50% of consumers consider AI to help them with price comparison, while 41% expect AI to help them discover relevant offerings and products.
To deliver your customers personalised shopping experiences and customised recommendations, you have to use AI algorithms to give you a hand.
Use machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to enrich customer experiences via client service chatbots, predictive search functionalities or customised recommendations.
How does Amazon recommend precisely the products you are looking for? That’s AI and ML at work.
A Salesforce research highlights that 84% of consumers sustain the buying experience that has the same importance for them as the products and services.
Plus, new payment technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrencies add to the diversity and security of the financial environment and streamline payment operations. That’s another layer of innovation that brands have to deal with.
This year, a variety of innovations will continue to shape and challenge the business landscape, and companies that want to thrive will have to adapt.
Consumer Trends: Sustainability
In a world that is more and more conscious of carbon footprints and impacts on the environment, sustainability is the norm of the day. It’s a response to the obvious climate changes and ecological issues.
Here are some statistics to confirm this trend:
- 84% of consumers believe that environmentally careless practices will make them renounce buying from such a company.
- 78% of customers consider sustainability to be crucial.
- 55 % of customers are ready to pay more for ecological products.
- 62% of consumers consider sustainability one of the reasons to buy a product.
The consumer base is more conscientious due to democratised access to information and growing awareness of sustainability and environmental problems. It takes action and asks for transparency, sustainable practices and ethical behaviour.
This new consumer behaviour already manifests in multiple verticals like:
- Consumer packaged goods. Customers require eco-friendly packaging, ethically sourced ingredients and sustainable shipping alternatives.
- Agriculture. Consumers require healthy products cultivated in ways that are planet-friendly. Moreover, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission reveals in a study that sustainable business approaches in the agriculture industry have the potential to create economic opportunities of about 2.3 trillion USD yearly by 2030.
- Automotive. There is no news that electric vehicles are increasing in popularity. Regulatory pressures, customer exigencies and tech developments are leading this trend. Plus, all renowned auto companies are planning significant investments in eco-friendly technologies, admitting that the industry’s future needs to take sustainability issues seriously.
- Cloths second-hand shopping. As this tendency starts to spread, brands should consider boosting their efforts to offer new life to their old products by proposing out-of-season or vintage items.
Nowadays, consumers are increasingly interested in knowing if you as a company pay your workers fairly, if you really respect the environment during your business operations, and if you are transparent.
Companies need to commit to reducing their carbon footprint without greenwashing as consumers get savvy to cynical corporate promises.
Social Media Plays a Prominent Role in Commerce
No one can deny the influence of social media on consumer behaviour. This tendency has grown exponentially in recent years, revolutionising how businesses interact with customers.
Considering that more than half of the population across the globe uses social media, it’s easy to comprehend why it plays such an essential role in commerce in general and e-commerce in particular.
Social advertising adds a new venue to promote your business in front of your targeted audience. And creates the scene for influencers. That is yet another way to leverage social media to reach new customers.
Social shopping is another social media feature that sustains business expansion and gains in popularity. Now, customers find product catalogues, shoppable images and videos on social channels. And that is a highly convenient way to shop without leaving their favourite app.
It’s worth noting that the young generations, the so-called “digital natives”, are the most influenced by social media, its influencers and ever-evolving trends.
A Gallup study sustains that 51% of American teens spend an average of 4.8 hours daily on social media channels, with YouTube and TikTok being the first two in their preferences.
Needless to say, brands targeting these consumer segments should have a bold presence on such channels to catch their attention and market to them effectively.
Consumer Trends: Customisation and Personalisation Get More Traction
One of the most potent consumer trends for 2024 that is here to stay and asks for more implications from companies in the coming years is personalisation. Now, consumers expect brands to know and understand exactly their preferences, needs and pain points.
Customers are looking for a more tailored consumer experience focusing primarily on the person rather than on the mass market.
This trend has been made possible by the spread of technologies like AI and ML that have made data collection and analysis accessible at large. Such advanced solutions allow businesses to understand their audience better and get valuable insights into customer behaviour, options and patterns.
Research by McKinsey & Company indicates that the majority of consumers – 71% expect personalised experiences, and 76% feel frustrated if that doesn’t happen. Hence, clients expect businesses to demonstrate they understand them at an individual level. And meet them where they are, know their preferences and tailor offerings for them.
This level of expectations sets a high standard in terms of customer experience that should be customised and personal.
It’s evident that personalisation is a powerful element for differentiation. A prominent example in this sense is Amazon and its personalised recommendations algorithm.
Based on the customer’s purchase history, browsing history and interests detected during their time on the platform, Amazon makes tailored recommendations for each user. This algorithm is considered responsible for about 35% of Amazon sales in one year.
Personalisation has a strong influence on purchase decisions along the lifecycle. The same McKinsey study reveals that 78% of customers will likely make repeat purchases from a brand offering personalised experiences and recommend it to friends.
Customisation and personalisation are vital pillars for businesses from now on as they change how they interact with their clientele. But it also offers the opportunity to create unique customer experiences, create more significant relationships, and gain customer loyalty in the long run.
Experiential Retail Is What the New Generations Are Looking For
Another consumer trend that heavily shapes consumer behaviour is the increased focus on experiences rather than ownership. It indicates that the reality of new generations has changed significantly; they prefer memorable experiences to material riches.
Expressions of this trend are membership services or car-sharing. Young consumers are mainly more interested in sharing an automobile than owning one. It’s a tendency sustained by sustainability concerns, urbanisation, the digital economy and lifestyle choices.
Consumers’ desire for on-demand content and experiences also shapes the global streaming industry. Think Netflix.
This experiential trend impacts restaurants and the food and beverage industries as customers search for remarkable dining experiences beyond food. It explains the appearance of new dining concepts based on experience, culinary or oenological tourism.
A report from Experian (a credit report company) sustains that young generations prefer spending their money on “life experiences” like music concerts, shows and travelling rather than saving for retirement.
Moreover, delivering an improved customer experience now translates into including gamification elements in loyalty programs, proposing unique features and benefits, shoppable videos, etc.
Gathering points to unlock discounts or rewards earns the attention of customers. Shoppable videos offer an intuitive and interactive experience that instantly provides users with the information they are looking for.
User-generated content is another way to connect with consumers by inviting them to immerse in the experience and share their recommendations and preferences.
Since customers are increasingly looking for meaningful connections with the brands they buy from and qualitative experiences, businesses must conceive impressive experiences that generate emotional connections.
Consumer Trends: Localism
Another consumer trend that is on a sharp ascending path is the priority given to goods produced and sourced at a local level. This trend, also called “locavore”, is evident in various agriculture verticals and consumer packaged goods niches.
Consumers are more and more concerned about who, where, and how their food is produced. They are more interested in verifying product traceability, sustaining local communities via consumption, and supporting eco-friendly initiatives.
And primarily choose local brands because of a better price value report and positive experience.
Consumers are privileging local agricultural products because of their freshness and considerations related to the impact of long-distance transportation on the environment. That’s why farmer markets and brands that produce or promote local products have gained in popularity lately.
Plus, food retailers are highlighting that their offerings include local products to catch the attention of this segment of customers.
Another consequence of localism is the growing number of farm-to-table restaurants and locally-produced beverage stores.
The preference goes to local products as consumers are looking to support local production and local heritage. Anyway, they consider them more reliable and authentic.
Localism is an expression of the profound changes that take place at the societal level that privilege community and a sustainable lifestyle.
Well Being and Health
Prioritising health and wellness infuses a fundamental change in buying behaviour and lifestyle preferences. As individuals realise their mental health and well-being are paramount, this shift will influence heavily several industries.
Such a consumer trend is a result of cumulative aspects like:
- Democratised access to health data and information.
- The importance of preventive healthcare.
- Impact of COVID pandemics.
- Chronic health conditions expansion.
In such conditions, it is no wonder the wellness industry reached the alluring level of $5.6 trillion in 2022.
The pandemic marked a time of reflection. People reassess their lifestyle, values and priorities and set new goals in pursuit of self-actualisation. Nowadays, self-care is about finding your purpose and accepting yourself.
While this trend sounds peaceful, individualism can also be ruthless. People cut out toxic family and friends from their lives, leave jobs and careers that don’t align with their values, and speak out fearlessly for what they believe in.
More care and attention to health also means more attention to the products and food individuals consume. That’s why the demand for natural, organic products is surging.
Considering these consumer requirements, companies are required to adapt and provide more transparency on how they source their materials, adopt sustainable practices and come up with healthy alternatives.
Fast and Convenient Is the New Norm
Consumers are less and less indulgent with companies that don’t comply with this time and age. This means requirements for speed and convenience are increasingly critical and heavily impact buying decisions.
No one has time to lose with interfaces that don’t move or sloppy services. Consumers are looking for efficiency and rapid execution everywhere.
Such expectations impact a large part of the economy and are caused by technological advancement and modern lifestyles.
Convenience is most often a critical criterion, as research reveals:
- 70% of customers are ready to pay extra for a convenient experience.
- 75% choose the brand that they consider most convenient to deal with.
For example, convenience and speed are shaping heavily the e-commerce industry. Amazon’s Prime service is the result of such a trend—also, the plethora of fast delivery services.
The food industry answered to this trend with home delivery services, on-the-go served menus, and ready-to-eat meals, all to satisfy the convenience criterion.
Another industry touched by this trend in a significant manner is financial services, which is requested to deliver quicker and more convenient financial solutions. This explains the proliferation of mobile banking, fintech payment apps, digital wallets or contactless payments.
Under these conditions, innovative brands that are able to propose time-saving options while guaranteeing convenience and quality will earn a competitive edge and attract new loyal clients.
Being aware of the current and upcoming consumer trends is vital as they indicate how consumer behaviour and preferences change. Your business strategies should take them into consideration and adapt, not only to keep pace but to thrive in a crowded economic environment.