Helping companies translate trends into opportunities

The human needs of belonging, enjoyment, and trust underpin five key consumer behaviour trends that will shape companies’ growth strategies in 2022 and beyond, including purpose, creator economy, gamification, hybrid lifestyles, and data privacy.

Behave have scanned 18 existing consumer and social media trends reports over the past month to identify the recurrence of trends, combine tangential trends, and overlay their expected impact for companies.

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1. Purpose is becoming a consumption compass

44% consumers are purpose-driven, they now represent the largest segment of consumers.

What is it? Consumers (particularly Gen Z’s and Millennials) are increasingly holding companies to a higher ethical standard regarding societal and environmental issues – with eco-friendliness being the poster child for what it means to be a purpose-led company. As such, consumers are increasingly weaving into their purchasing decisions what a brand stands for (i.e. its purpose) in addition to commodity factors such as price and quality, as they want to align their purchases with their values. This trend is here to stay as consumers’ expectations of societal and environmental involvement from companies is becoming implicit.

What does it mean? Companies will need to remain accountable. To do so, they will need to identify metrics that accurately reflect the progress they are making in helping advance the causes they stand for to ensure that these become a cohesive part of the brand experience and resonate with customers.


2. Creators are the go-to partners in a creator economy

50 million people around the world consider themselves to be “creators”.

What is it? Consumers are embracing a heightened sense of agency over their lives and, therefore, are looking for an active role in their relationships with brands, especially when it comes to influencing marketing, advertising, and product ideation. Today, two million of the estimated 50 million-plus creators on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch make six-figure incomes from revenue models such as advertising, paid subscriptions, merchandise or live and virtual events. This trend is here to stay as social media platforms feed customers’ sentiment that they want to – and can – be in control of their destiny by working for themselves.

What does it mean? Companies will need to find effective ways to partner with creators. To do so, they will need to find an authentic fit with a particular creator, to build or emphasise credibility in this space, and to organise partnerships that result in long-term value for themselves and the creator.


3. Gamification is becoming ubiquitous

The gamification market is expected to grow by $17.56 billion during 2020-2024.

What is it? Consumers expect companies to offer playful content and products or experiences that grant them permission to escape their everyday life responsibilities, having endured the pandemic. That is, consumers want content, products, and experiences with game-like mechanics, as they need to be instantly motivated, delighted, and excited. Of course, some consumers – those consumers embracing a more intrinsic approach to enjoyment – will push back against gamification but, overall, this trend is here to stay.

What does it mean? Companies will need to enable consumers to escape their everyday worries, stresses, and boredom. To do so, they will need to understand the personal nature of their consumers to translate this into absorbing, personalised, and fun experiences across the entire customer journey.


4. Hybrid lifestyles are the new normal

75% of executives will invest more in delivering hybrid experiences over the next 12 months.

What is it? Consumers, across demographic segments, have tilted their lifestyles, in response to the pandemic, to an increased consumption of hybrid experiences that bring the physical world in virtual reality. These include collaborative virtual spaces, (video) streaming, and other experiences through which consumers feel a strong sense of belonging in the moment, even while physically apart. Hybrid lifestyles are set to increase as the metaverse – by creating highly mixed reality experiences that are aimed at bringing people closer by removing conventional boundaries – is gaining traction.

What does it mean? Companies will need to think about how to elevate hybrid experiences whilst catering for consumers with a wide range of digital skills and mindsets. To do so, they will need to pursue a human-first strategy, by tapping into the principles of human-centred design, to connect on a deeper level with consumers.


5. Data privacy is getting real

73% of consumers use online services which promise high data protection.

What is it? Consumers have been willing to share their data in exchange for convenience or information. But as consumers feel a growing concern about data privacy, new privacy regulations and the end of third-party cookies are putting an end to this exchange. As such, trust has become a new form of currency, as consumers need to trust to be willing to share their data. This trend is here to stay as consumers are highly supportive of existing privacy laws and are also very concerned about the use of personal data in many artificial intelligence applications.

What does it mean? Companies will need to embrace a privacy-first data strategy to effectively engage with consumers. To do so, they will need to demonstrate that they use data in a meaningful (i.e. ensure consumers are provided with valuable experiences), memorable (i.e. ensure consumers can recall sharing their information actively and voluntarily), and manageable way (i.e. ensure consumers can review and manage the way their data is used).

Dr. Alexandra Dobra-Kiel, head of behavioural research and insight

Author:Dr. Alexandra Dobra-Kiel, head of behavioural research and insight