COVID-19 has given rise to a new generation of consumers with specific values and challenges—and businesses need to prepare for the post-pandemic world.
“We won’t be on lockdown forever, but we will emerge in a different world, so now is the time to start envisioning different products and experiences,” according to WGSN managing director Carla Buzasi.
The trend forecasting firm recently offered a look into the years ahead with “Future Consumer 2022,” a white paper outlining three new consumer groups taking shape in response to the rapidly changing climate. Though the effects of the pandemic are being experienced across the world, individuals will take away new and varying values, expectations and spending habits from this crisis.
In response to the uncertain times, one new consumer group dubbed Stabilizers will look to simplicity and “radical acceptance” to cope with the new normal.
This demographic, WGSN noted, is the core audience for the booming number of life coaches, self-help audiobooks and optimization apps proffering self-care services. Though stabilizers were brought up on principles of self-improvement and productivity, the current state of the world is pushing them to rebel in favor of self-acceptance and relaxation.
Companies can target these consumers—who largely fall into the millennial and Gen Z cohorts—with soothing experiences in their retail landscapes, simple messaging in their marketing and limited product options.
“Create an in-store environment that declutters the shopping experience, and focus on packaging with direct and concise labelling. Don’t take them on a journey. Save them time,” WGSN said.
And companies should aim to bring a sense of calm to all of their retail experiences through features like high ceilings, bright surfaces and fewer product SKUs. This less-is-more approach can be applied to e-commerce formats that focus on key product attributes and information.
“At the most basic level, if the customer is immediately overwhelmed by product pushes, they are less likely to convert to appeal to this simplicity-craving demographic,” according to WGSN.
Settlers respond to the current times with clear boundaries. Largely comprised of millennials and Gen Xers, this consumer group is drawing a line between work and play, allowing them time to support local businesses and focus on what they believe really matters: the community. They believe prioritizing a balance will ultimately improve the environment, economy and humanity.
Archival collections and resale marketplaces are a hit with this consumer group, as they’re able to support local businesses and make less of an environmental impact as a result. WGSN highlighted Ralph Lauren’s 2019 Re/Sourced collections as a way to target this group. The collection was a collaboration with resale site Depop, which offered 150 archival items from the ’90s sourced from its sellers.
Settlers also respond well to peer-to-peer platforms that check many of those same boxes: they allow them to support their community while also buying used.
The New Optimists
The New Optimists are made up of all different cohorts but have many commonalities that bring them together. Considered to be “joyful activists” who prioritize adventure and socializing, the group is committed to bucking stereotypes and celebrating the process of aging.
“In a youth-obsessed culture, brands should update their portrayals of aging to shift the dialogue and celebrate all ages,” WGSN noted.
As this consumer group is eager to connect and embrace adventure, WGSN recommends using the latest technical tools, like augmented and virtual reality, to enable consumers to test products at their convenience and to host livestream shopping events. “This group gravitates towards peer feedback when purchasing, so retailers should make the experience shareable,” according to WGSN.
The New Optimists also love socializing, which presents an opportunity for businesses to offer bundle packages and group deals for both in-store and online purchases.