Consumer behavior has changed dramatically in the last few years, and this evolution doesn’t appear to show any signs of stopping in 2022. The two main reasons for new patterns of behavior include: the far-reaching effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of high living costs due to rising inflation. Globally, advertisers and marketers are going to have to work harder than ever to retain strong consumer engagement. In times like these, long-term planning and brand marketing become increasingly important.
Here are a few things companies should be aware of:
1- A customer-centric culture
Basically, as many brands believe they should market themselves as customer centric, they still need to prove that they are able to understand customers’ perceptions, expectations and situations, and deliver the right product accordingly. Inevitably, access and usability of customer data are crucial to gaining the insights required to provide enhanced customer experiences.
2- Omnichannel reach and marketing
One of the biggest consumer trends of the last few years is the rise of omnichannel shopping. The global pandemic has seen growing popularity for omnichannel experiences among all consumer demographics and across all industries. Covid-19 expedited the growing demand of online buying and delivery services; stores with online engagement options have driven the biggest chunk of growth and will continue to do so over the coming years.
From the restaurant perspective, the omnichannel approach is as interesting as the expansion of bricks-and-mortar locations; it helps reach both new audiences and a different type of consumer to create additional revenue streams.
The restaurant industry has experienced a major transformation. Today’s consumers want to order their food fast wherever they are, whenever they feel like it. Such needs will continue to drive the omnichannel trend. For restaurants, that means providing multiple ways for the customers to order and pay. And let’s not forget that multiple convenient ordering options, both online and offline, are exactly what customers are looking for: variety at the touch of a button!
Now, more than ever, consumers are increasingly seeking brands that are aligned with their values, those that are environmentally friendly, responsible, ethical and use sustainable materials and supply chains. This trend has accelerated purchasing behavior. Consumers are more likely to gravitate toward brands that project a positive attitude vis-à-vis sustainability, but the effort has to be honest; today’s consumer expects complete transparency and honesty.
4- Digitization: from brick to click
The pandemic has accelerated consumer digital adoption. Even groups who had been hesitant have embraced digital solutions and channels. Consumer trends and behaviors that appeared during the pandemic are likely to stick, and convenience plays a big role.
Who remembers the days we used to spend visiting different stores in person so that we could look for an item or compare prices? How many hours would we stand in front of the shelves at a bookshop looking for something worth reading? Today, thanks to e-commerce, we don’t have to waste hours. Consumers are able to compare dozens of products in countless stores at once, finding better prices and wider variety and selections. Shoppers can also see menus, reviews and ratings of restaurants in just a few clicks, which is a major factor in decision-making in today’s hospitality and recreational sector.
5- Purchase directly from brands
Consumers control how, when and where they choose to engage with brands. In an age where a shopper can use their smartphone to find dozens of retailers selling the same product, the customer experience has become a key differentiator.
6- Health and wellness remain at the forefront of global trends
Consumer focus on health, wellness and nutrition is likely to be a longstanding behavioral change, even after the pandemic ends. The pandemic has transformed how consumers perceive holistic health and well-being. It’s impacting how we live and increasing the importance of the foods, beverages and supplements we choose, presenting new opportunities for our industry to meet such needs. As consumers return to more active lifestyles, convenient products with functional ingredients that boost energy, enhance cognitive performance and regulate mood will gain further prominence, as well as tailored nutrition supporting personal health and wellness goals.
Consumers will continue to take a more proactive approach to managing well-being with functional nutrition, “close-to-nature” ingredients and foods that promote self-care.
7- Purposeful indulgence is the new permissible indulgence
Consumers recognize that as long as choices remain purposeful and exceptional rather than impulsive, indulgence has a role in a positive relationship with food. Thus, we shall be anticipating more opportunities for fast foods, functional snacks, confectionery and beverages that still deliver on flavor.
Maya Bekhazi Noun,
co-founder and managing director of The Food Studio