The consumers’ landscapes is getting more and more complex and the actions of the individual are getting more and more fragmented: new forces and dynamics are intervening in the definition of consumer, but a constant that is common to everybody (no matter the age) is a sense of overwhelming pressure. Whether it's about working productivity or taking action to receive more likes on social media, according to Carla Buzasi (managing director of WGSN) there is an incessant expectation of feeling better and doing better. However, in this scenario a hate epidemic emerges and people do not build relationships on the base of the things they like, but of the things they do not like.
So, in which scenario will consumer act? How will they change facing a constant development, and how will brands relate to consumers in an authentic way, to be able to orient themselves among many different factors?
According to WGSN, an agency that studies and provides analysis about global trends, three main drivers will define the consumers of the future: the polarization of incomes, confidence of China, and the state of the planet at breaking point.
What will be the challenges in this scenario, and how can brands create products and provide services that respond to new needs?
Driver 1: “The end of more”
This can also be called “low-impact consumerism” and defines the consumer’s interest for more sustainable actions, processes and products. Facing the evolutions of the ethical sensitivity of consumers, who are now more informed and conscious, brands have the possibility to develop their relationship with consumers and save at least 600 billion euro by 2030 in Europe alone. The companies that will start planning, searching and innovating paying attention to environmental sustainability will now gain advantages on the market. An example? Starbucks has planned a 10 year investment of 500 million dollars for the research on resistant to climatic changes beans and to support adaptation training for farmers in eight centers across three continents.
Driver 2: “People power shifts”
As above said, an increasing polarization about incomes is expected, with a middle-class spending power (especially in the countries with the most developed economies) which will continue to weaken. Income inequality is growing, while the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest people is widening. What are the actions that will be recognized in a context in which the middle class has less and less spending power? Certainly an offer of high-value, diversified services to respond to the new specific and volatile spending priorities.
Driver 3: “China power shift”
World leader in the field of technology and artificial intelligence, and owning the largest share of global supercomputers, China will continue to grow, as well as the confidence of Chinese companies that are bolstering to create national brands, especially targeted for local consumers. In this scenario, international brands will need to rethink about their approach to the market and boost innovation at a local level.
How can a brand speak authentically and offer products and services that can improve the life of the consumers of 2021?
WGSN highlights 6 ways of doing that:
1) Clean up visual language: curate cleanliness and the functionalities of e-commerce vs the confusion of physical shops. A consumer that is confused and overloaded with too many messages won’t convert.
2) Focus on core products: “less is more”. Keep in stock fewer products that can feed demand while maintaining exclusivity.
3) Prioritize corporate care: commit to specific, long-term causes VS one-off charity donations.
4) Direct to consumer: companies need to invest in strategic partnerships with the market disruptors that test physical locations and work vertically and in contact with buyers.
5) Invest in re-commerce: markets enable people to sell or rent a house in few clicks. It will be important to invest in aftercare market strategies, re-buying incentives and rent-to-own collections.
6) Innovative livestreaming: sell less product videos and more videos connected to people’s mindset. Align livestreams with the major consumer groups to ensure higher sales and engagement.
Source: Future Consumer 2021 White paper