Consumer Trends – Revisited

I was reflecting on my 2021 blog postings and it occurred to me that some of what I have addressed this year is the progression of topics/points I have brought up in the past few years. Let’s take a walk through the archives…

From part one of a two-part blog series in September 2019:

As I thought through this topic of keeping up with customer trends… I decided to take a different approach and the truth is, there’s so much to say about customer trends …

First, let’s look at the driving factors that stimulate trend changes.

Driving factors

Gender and ethnicity are the two biggest demographic factors for both retailers and suppliers when it comes up to keeping up with disparities in the market. Despite both parties working to do better in this area, they are still struggling to remain relevant to their entire consumer mix.

Here’s the thing: we still rarely hear about the demands and we only hear about the trends. We need to be looking at what was being demanded years ago compared to now to see trend movement. It seems that the pendulum has swung from the supplier and retailer controlling the movements to now the consumer having more control over their shopping baskets.

This has forced retailers to get out of their comfort zones and try an amazing number of different things to grab consumer attention, satisfaction, and then loyalty. In today’s market, it isn’t enough to have a loyalty program. Stores need to keep up with demands and create a situation where their products are what keep customers loyal.

As you can see, the shift toward the consumer having more influence and control over their shopping experience and having their demands met was already beginning to happen.

From part two of that two-part series:

… I want to give some insight into the future of consumer trends and what retailers and suppliers must do to stay in the game.

What’s next for consumer trends?

The main change we will see in the next few years is that the industry will continue to cater to consumer demands more than ever before:

    • Competition will become even more intense with convenience services including call-in, pickup, and overnight deliveries.
    • We will also see even more new marketing ploys and advertising to get consumers to become loyal customers. Any retailer that can’t change as rapidly as the consumers demand will be left behind.

While this was already occurring prior to its onset, the development and implementation of these services on a wide scale was definitely accelerated and became somewhat of a necessity due to pandemic circumstances. And, businesses that were slow or unable to adapt with the circumstances suffered – or failed entirely.

    • Today’s retailers are working to get on target with both their communication and transparency and that will continue to be the name of the game. Retailers that can quickly adapt their strategies will come out the winners.
    • The needs of varying generations and ethnic groups will continue to be a major factor in the retail industry.
    • It will not be easy for retailers to stay up with the media demands from consumers. Social media presents challenges now and retailers must find ways to get information to consumers if they want to be successful. Smart phone use will continue to be the biggest factor in this.

This speaks to the current state of consumer expectations and their preference to deal with businesses ranging from groceries and restaurants to clothing, cosmetics, and recreational equipment. I covered the consumers’ preference for responsive and easy communication (stats included) in July’s blog.

    • Consumers will become even more aware of price margins and maintaining loyalty will depend on the retailer’s ability to offer the best price.
    • Private label will continue to grow, and retailers will find ways to compete against CPG brands, making it paramount for those national brands to find ways to continue to stay relevant.

As retailers and suppliers move into the future, one thing they must understand is how quickly consumers can do a proverbial 180 on you. A once loyal customer can easily be turned to another retailer or product. Better and ongoing training of employees and other key players must be a focus.

Fickle consumers are changing more rapidly than ever before and if your retailer team is not watching, they can expect usually loyal customers to be easily swayed away.

So, you may be asking, “What is your point..?” Bear in mind that the referenced blogs were posted 2 years ago. While we couldn’t necessarily have predicted the circumstances that accelerated and modified the importance of the forming trends, we can clearly see that the successful entrepreneur must take into consideration the combination of consumer demands and trends in the formulation of short, medium, and long term strategies and goals. Without the consumer, there are no sales – and in sales, the customer is always right.