Consumers of today are not the same consumers of three months ago.
Though COVID-19 has forced society to slow down, the crisis has also caused the world to transform at a rapid rate, affecting virtually every institution, industry and the businesses that shape it. In a new “Future Consumer 2022” white paper, trend forecasting firm WGSN mapped out current consumer sentiments regarding the pandemic calling out fear, a desynchronized society, equitable resilience and radical optimism as the main emotions shaping consumers daily lives.
Here’s a look at how new routines, isolation and flashbacks of the Great Recession are informing future consumer trends.
Environmental and economic uncertainty are some of the top consumer sentiments that are reshaping the way they spend.
Eco anxiety, a term referring to the state of anxiety about the effects of global warming, has been a growing concern specifically among the Gen Z demographic, according to the report. In a WGSN climate survey from 2019, 90 percent of global respondents said the thought of a climate crisis made them feel uneasy about their future.
With the last economic crisis not far behind us—the 2008 Great Recession was just 12 years ago—many are familiar with the effects of global financial unrest. The coronavirus pandemic, which has already caused many businesses and retailers to file for bankruptcy and lay off or furlough employees, is resurfacing that fear.
Fear is also somewhat contagious. With society more connected than ever, fear can spread more rapidly than ever, WGSN noted. Experts refer to the phenomenon as emotional contagion, in which people mimic the feelings of those around them.
With much of the population working from home, the standard 9-5 workday has shifted, causing many to operate on different time tables. The trend forecasting firm refers to this concept as a “desynchronized society,” in which people continue to do many of the same things, but no longer at the same time as others.
A lack of a routine is also affecting society, as the key pillars that once shaped everyone’s days are now unavailable or offered at limited capacity. Moments such as grocery shopping, visiting the post office and going to the gym are some of the daily tasks that now look completely different, the white paper noted.
Equitable resilience and radical optimism
The coronavirus is teaching many to be resilient and learn important coping skills. Due to the collective suffering—and much of it spent isolated and indoors—consumers are creating time to feel hard emotions. The trend forecasting firm noted that this acknowledgment of struggle and perseverance will make society stronger and enhance their coping skills as a result.
Ironically, embracing all emotions will also help society remain more positive. WGSN noted that by 2022, radical optimism will be celebrated, as it will be seen as an act of courage in light of the uncertain times. While morale is low, there has been progress that can’t be discounted—strides in healthcare and global economics can be celebrated, and society will likely choose to focus on successes in the future, WGSN added.