A Gartner survey of 1,752 consumers during October 2021 identified the top consumer and cultural trends for marketers in 2022, five of which they should keep top-of-mind.
The pandemic has been an inadvertent social experiment, creating the space for consumers to ask big questions and test alternative ways to live. Fewer people tie their identities to their work or career. This was evident as the U.S. Labor Department reported that a record 4.5 million workers, or 3 percent of the workforce, quit jobs in November 2021, matching the record set in September. The Gartner survey also revealed that 51 percent of workers admit to performing personal tasks during work hours more frequently than before the pandemic.
Society is reconsidering the experience, possibilities and meaning of time. Seventy-seven percent of consumers reported experiencing some distortion in their perception of the pace of time, led by Gen Z (91 percent) and millennials (88 percent). Also, 66 percent of consumers report having difficulty making long-term plans or life changes at some point during the pandemic. Marketers must appreciate the profound cultural transformations underway regarding time and lean in to brand values that answer consumers longing for control, health and reality.
The layered and contextual nature of social and traditional media is exhausting. Consumers seek the straightforward in response. Gartner’s survey identified 61 percent of consumers watch or listen to entertainment “to relax or be comforted”, followed by 41 percent identifying “to escape from, or stop thinking about, reality” and 33 percent “to experience funny moments”. With these insights, marketers must realize that many consumers are more interested in straightforward, uncomplicated storylines than they used to be.
Consumers are toggling and blending online and in-person experiences well beyond the realm of shopping. Necessity drove consumers onto new digital platforms, but convenience keeps them there. Thirty-nine percent of consumers claimed to enjoy new conveniences of going online or doing things virtually in various areas of their life, a 6 percent increase from 2020. Meanwhile, 57 percent of consumers identified their online or virtual experiences as inadequate replacements for offline or in-person experiences, a 17 percent increase from 2020.
Marketers must continue to invest in customer touchpoints and offerings that allow for hybrid online and in-person modes of interaction and choice while differentiating their brands by positioning omnichannel options not only as a way to gain security and exercise control, but also as a path to comfort.
With “before times” normalcy off the table, consumers have settled for – and settled into – a home-centered approach to living. Consumers are planning to have their home-centricity extend well beyond the lockdown, with 58 percent of survey respondents saying the pandemic will have a lasting impact on how they think about and manage their home (up 12 percent from 2020).
With this in mind, marketers should develop product offerings and buying channels that align with this home-first lifestyle and emphasize the aspects of their brands values that speak to consumers seeking safety, security, and serenity.