Consumer trends can play a big role in your business’s evolution, affecting everything from the marketing strategies you use to the customer service policies you adopt. It’s impossible to keep up with every trend, but it is important to understand which ones are worth exploring in your operation.
Taking advantage of the right trends can help you captivate your customers, improve your reputation, and boost sales. Here are three consumer trends gaining traction in 2022:
1. Environmental sustainability
The concept of environmental sustainability has become mainstream in the last several years, with the pandemic heightening many people’s awareness. According to a 2022 survey from The IBM Institute for Business Value, more than half (51%) of respondents say environmental sustainability is more important to them today than it was 12 months ago. The sustainability issues consumers care about range from pollution reduction and rainforest protection to biodiversity improvement and reducing ozone layer depletion.
Particularly as concerns over climate change grow, many consumers are becoming more interested in supporting businesses that maintain eco-friendly practices or sell sustainable products. IBM’s survey found that 49% of consumers paid a premium—an average of 59% more—for products labeled as sustainable or socially responsible.
As a business owner, prioritizing environmental sustainability is a smart move for two key reasons: 1) It’s better for the planet and 2) it appeals to customers who want to use their buying power for good. Depending on your operation, your sustainability practices might involve:
- Reducing solid waste
- Sourcing products and materials locally
- Making energy-efficient upgrades to reduce energy consumption
- Using green web hosting services
- Using recyclable or compostable materials and supplies
- Partnering with vendors that have sustainable practices
Improving your business’s sustainability takes a multi-pronged approach—and a lot of commitment—but here are a few simple ways to get started:
- Conduct an energy audit: Analyze your business’s energy usage to find areas where you can cut back. If you need help, check out the ENERGY STAR Action Workbook for Small Business.
- Reconsider your production process: Review every step in your production process—from sourcing materials to packaging products—to see where you can reduce waste, use biodegradable or recyclable materials, or use less energy.
- Take one step at a time: Instead of trying to tackle every sustainability goal at once, pick one positive change you can make—like nixing paper mailers or replacing your light bulbs with energy-efficient lighting—and start there.
Self-care has exploded in popularity since the start of the pandemic. According to JungleScout’s Consumer Trends Report Q1 2022, 62% of people are more interested in self-care now than before the pandemic began. Self-care can take many forms, from mental health practices and wellness treatments to personal hobbies and social pursuits.
More than ever, people are looking for tools and practices that provide comfort, relief, and happiness during stressful times—and businesses are giving them options. Research from the Global Wellness Institute shows that the global wellness economy was worth $4.4 trillion in 2020, and projected to reach $7 trillion by 2025.
Even if your business isn’t in the wellness or health industry, you can still appeal to your customers’ desire for self-care. How? By tailoring your offerings or upgrading your customer experience—or both.
Here are a few ways to get started:
- Rethink your products or services: See if you can add a self-care twist to your offerings. That might involve adding new products or services entirely, or tweaking the ones you already have. If you run an ecommerce store selling paper goods, for example, you could create a specific self-care or meditation journal. If you own a bar, you could adapt customers’ favorite cocktails into unique non-alcoholic drinks.
- Level up your customer experience: Brainstorm ways to revamp your in-person or online customer experience. If you’re an online retailer, you could update your website layout so it’s visually cleaner, or add a friendly customer service chatbot to your site. If you run a brick-and-mortar business, the possibilities are endless. You could infuse your store with a mild relaxing scent, offer customers complimentary ice water or coffee, add a comfy seating area to your space.
- Change your messaging: You can promote your products or services from a self-care angle by adjusting your value proposition. Try running a marketing campaign where you highlight the support, ease, relaxation, nourishment, or “me time” your offerings provide.
3. Multiple paths to purchasing
Consumers in 2022 want options when it comes to engaging with businesses. Instead of sticking to one type of shopping and purchasing method, the majority of people are embracing an omnichannel approach. According to 2022 research from McKinsey, 75% of US consumers say they’re researching and purchasing both online and in-store.
Which path consumers choose depends on their needs, lifestyle, and attitude. Raydiant’s State of Consumer Behavior 2022 report found that the primary reason people go to brick-and-mortar businesses is for the enjoyable in-store experience. On the other hand, the number one reason people shop online, according to the report, is because it’s available around the clock.
Giving your customers or clients multiple paths to purchase shows you care about accommodating their unique needs. Here are a few ways to expand your options—no matter what kind of business you operate:
- Let customers purchase products and services straight from social media: Almost half (45%) of the respondents from McKinsey’s survey said social media is influencing their purchases. If your business is entirely online, take advantage of social media shopping by adding product tags to your posts and stories, using ads with product tags, or setting up a storefront on Instagram.
- Facilitate the research phase: If you run a brick-and-mortar business with no online store, focus on giving your customers ample support during the online research (or consideration) stage of their buying journey. That might mean adding more service or product information to your business’s website, promoting customer testimonials on your social pages, adding a chatbot to your site, or activating your Google Business Messages feature so people can get in touch from the Google search page.
- Be flexible: If you have both a physical location and an online store, you can give your customers even more options. If people regularly browse in-store then buy online later, hand them a discount code to use. Or give online shoppers the option to pick up their purchase in the store if they’re local.
To trend or not to trend?
Capitalizing on consumer behavior trends can help you get ahead as a business. Before you jump on any given bandwagon, though, make sure you consider your customer demographic, your business’s resources, and what you stand to gain.