The summer of 2022 has been coloured by inflation, environmental concerns, impending recession and a looming energy crisis These three factors are already impacting consumer behaviour, and giving way to some interesting trends. And they don’t look likely to stop soon.
In this blog, we look more closely at the macrotrends affecting consumer behaviour in 2022. Then, we’ll look at how you can use the latest market research technology to explore the trends in your industry or sector to stay ahead of the curve.
Consumer Trends 2022
1. Saving the pennies
As inflation continues to rise, and energy prices soar, people are becoming more and more concerned about the value of their money. This is leading to a decrease in spending, as people are choosing to save instead. Businesses need to find ways to adapt to this change in consumer behaviour if they want to stay afloat.
In the UK, consumer confidence is at an all-time low. In an ongoing survey by data GfK, which dates back all the way to 1974, consumer confidence hit rock bottom in June with a score of -41. Lower than during the 1990s housing crash, and even the 2008 global financial crisis.
And all this is reflected at the checkout counter with retail volumes and consumer spending both down month-on-month over the summer.
Bargain companies are faring comparatively well as consumers seek out cheaper options. Greggs Plc. famed for their cheap sausage rolls, saw sales rise above pre-pandemic levels though rising costs kept profit margins tight.
In the US, it’s a similar story with consumer confidence down, and cheap fast-food chain McDonald’s posting strong results with a sales increase of 2.59%, well above market expectations. However, retail sales in July were surprisingly higher than expected, rising 1% m-o-m.
What does this mean for businesses?
Simply put, people are becoming more and more value-conscious and companies need to find ways to adapt. One way to do this is through discounts and promotions. Another is by communicating the value of your product or service in a way that resonates with people who are tightening their purse strings.
2. Environmental concerns
The Summer months have brought climate change vividly to the consciousness of the world’s leading economies that have long neglected the issue. With raging wildfires and record-breaking temperatures across Europe and extensive flooding in the Death Valley National Park, it’s hard for the western world to further ignore the fact that our choices and our actions are having serious consequences on our planet.
And a core group of consumers are driving companies to change the way they operate. Dubbed the “climate catalysts“, they make up 13% of the adult population. These consumers are not only making individual efforts to minimise their impact on the environment, but they also increasingly putting pressure on the businesses they buy from to do better.
Almost three-quarters of these climate catalysts avoid companies that don’t value climate goals, and around 70% seek out sustainable brands.
You may think that this trend is driven by Gen Zers, but interestingly, climate catalysts skew older at 35-64 years old.
What does this mean for business?
Those that actively commit to climate goals and sustainability will reap the rewards with this powerful group of consumers, building loyalty, as well as customer and employee satisfaction. But it’s not just about making a few green changes, companies need to be seen to be making a real difference. This means being transparent about your practices, setting ambitious targets and reporting on progress.
3. Direct-to-consumer (DTC)
The pandemic sparked many changes in consumer behaviour, and one of the most notable was the move to online shopping. With lockdowns and restrictions in place, even those who were previously averse to shopping online were forced to do so and continued even after restrictions were lifted.
The direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, in which brands sell products and services directly to consumers without going through traditional retailers, has benefitted from increased e-commerce activity, and consumers prefer it too. In a survey commissioned by Google (PDF), “nearly 60% of online shoppers say they will go out of their way to purchase directly from a brand instead of a third-party.” The reasons cited for this include:
- DTC offers a more unique and personalised experience
- Brands can showcase their values more effectively
- It is a “more authentic” way to shop
- Shoppers perceive brands to have “cleaner and clearer environmental footprints” (PDF)
When margins are thinned by inflation, brands that cut their overheads by selling directly have an advantage. In addition, DTC brands have the data and relationships with customers to create a personalised experience that builds loyalty.
What does this mean for business?
The DTC model presents an opportunity for businesses to build a more intimate relationship with their customers. If you’re not already selling direct, now is the time to consider making the switch. If you already offer a DTC option, focus on creating a seamless and personalised experience for your customers, as they will continue to expect and demand this in the months and years to come.
How to Research Trends in your Market
Now we’ve looked at several macro trends affecting consumer behaviour in 2022, let’s look at how you can research trends specific to your industry or market.
Listen to your customers
Your customers are already voicing their opinions through conversations on social media, online reviews and other sources of customer feedback. With Symanto technology, it’s easy to track and analyse this unstructured data to identify trends and themes. Our aspect-based sentiment and emotion analysis can help you understand how customers feel about specific topics related to your brand, products or services, and help you track drivers and barriers to customer loyalty.
Symanto makes it easy to gather and analyse thousands of reviews from social media, e-commerce platforms and other sources, or you can apply it to data from your CRM platform, chatbot transcripts, customer surveys and more.
Compare your performance with competitors
Research what your competitors are doing to stay ahead of the curve. Check out their websites, social media channels and marketing materials to see how they are positioning themselves in the market, and then look at the impact this has on their customer base.
With Symanto, you can compare metrics such as how emotionally connected customers are to your brand, and how likely they are to recommend you to others. Explore data on a granular level to see what areas of each business most impact customer sentiment and loyalty and identify areas of improvement.
Get Started with Symanto
If you’re looking for ways to stay ahead of consumer trends within your market and keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ needs, we offer a range of tools and services to empower you. Get in touch today and we’ll direct you to the best solution to achieve your goals.