As consumers emerge from more than a year of isolation, we’re poised to see some big shifts in consumer trends in 2022 across the United States. The disruptive impact of COVID-19 on everyday life has accelerated the adoption of several consumer behaviors that were already incipient. Companies must be agile enough to evolve with industry shifts by creating diverse marketing strategies that are adaptable to these changes. Aside from real-time adjustments in response to the pandemic, companies also had to prepare for upcoming changes and new consumer behaviors that will become permanent. Together with the Consumer Global Practice Team we could explore the consumer trends in America and we found out that they are also common in many other countries and regions.

Consumer sales remain reasonably high despite the pandemic. Deloitte’s 2021 study shows that the consumer market remains reasonably strong even in the face of the pandemic but migrated to other channels, notably the online. Brick & mortar sales continue to decline in general compared to pre pandemic and store closures are still a strong trend. According to Real Estate data Co-star, 11.000 stores from major retailers closed down in the US in 2021. A curious fact is that the dollar stores (1 dollar or less products) are against the trend and expanding. Just the retailer Dollar General opened 1.000 stores in the US in 2021.

Online shopping is still growing – even with stores open the consumer continues to move to online shopping. According to Retail Customer Experience, before the pandemic 60% of the adults preferred to shop in stores and after the pandemic and only 37% preferred to shop in stores after the pandemic.

Free shipping and express delivery are in high demand – according to Verizon Look Forward study, 90% of customers would do more online shopping or buy more products if they receive free shipping /express shipping.
“At home” behavior continues to expand and therefore home cooking products, do it yourself kits and digital products continue in high demand.

Physical stores are changing their design in order to be safer to the customer due to the pandemic. People entering and leaving the store do not cross paths, corridors with a guided flow to avoid concentration of people, contactless payment options at check out amongst other things to make the store visit safer continue to be a trend.

Contactless payment options are in super high demand (apps, virtual credit card, mobile payment). Retailers are using AI (artificial intelligence) to intensify interaction with the customer (customer outreach, interactive chat, customer engagement, etc.).

Intense growth of live streaming (influencers, celebrities, hosts) to show the products to the customer and targeted audiences. Elderly people embracing technology – this group that usually is more resistant to technology finally embraced the new technologies in order to have a safer contactless shopping practice.

Retailers engage a lot more in omnichannel Marketing – and targeting specific audiences in each channel. Enrichment of the shopping experience – either online (using virtual reality or augmented reality) or in store creating specialty stores inside the stores or targeted promotions only for in store shoppers. Strong push for sustainability and ethical behavior from retailers and product manufacturers (attention to sustainable practices and no tolerance to child labor or abusive labor practices)

Intense focus on health and wellbeing – a lot of attention to plant based, organic and natural foods. These trends have been documented in studies from KPMG, Deloitte, Retail Customer Experience and other organizations in 2021 and they continue to be strong trends for 2022.

Comparing the consumer trends evident in America with those in Europe, we found that many of them are recurring.

Even in the old continent, one of the fastest growing industries in the post-pandemic era is FMCG. This was already evident in the lockdown situation, with the segments that have seen increased consumer interest being dairy food, soft drinks, etc. and given the focus on health the brands associated with home and personal care have sold particularly well.

Also in Europe, the most successful brands are those expressing messages oriented towards solidarity and social support, with an increasing trend towards brands with a clear associated “purpose”.

It may then seem obvious, but companies offering products and services online are set to grow in Europe too. E-commerce is not just a trend of the moment, it is something that is destined to last, which also means that many companies may have to rethink their omnichannel strategy.

In addition to business and consumer behavioral challenges, there are other challenges that companies in the consumer industry are facing. Challenges linked to their internal organization and their people. We are talking about the need for new ways of achieving learning, employer branding, good internal engagement… as well as bringing new and different skills on board to better address these new emerging trends. AIMS International’s Consumer Practice experts are ready to find and grow your leaders for a sustainable future.

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