Trish Thomas, CEO of TEEM, a full service marketing and advertising agency
Consumer data from 2020 is rolling in, and the numbers are telling. Covid-19 drove major shifts in consumer behavior that will likely have lasting effects. To understand and respond to consumer trends, it’s important to examine the underlying patterns that power a new approach to life, work and buying.
At my company, we keep our ears to the ground, ready to sense the tremors that will shake things up. It’s what our clients have come to expect from us; time and time again, we’ve used our foresight and market responsiveness to create future-facing content that matters. Here’s my advice on how brands can respond to some of the trends we’re seeing.
A Greater Need For A Focus On Mental Health
Society and governments continue to struggle to respond to mental illness, and the need is greater than ever. According to a June 2020 CDC study, 40% of the U.S. adults surveyed were dealing with anxiety or depression, symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder, substance use and/or suicidal ideation.
Private enterprises can play a role in helping to solve mental health issues for their customers and staff. Creative approaches to alleviating stress, isolation and anxiety, launching products and services that address mental health problems, and opening a dialogue with experts are all ways that businesses can cast themselves as supportive community players, elevating their brand equity and bringing encouragement and relief to millions who are suffering.
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We’re beginning to see our clients addressing mental health by shifting both their external focus and their internal practices. As an agency, we have transitioned fully to remote work, have increased flexibility in our work habits and are trying to maintain the connectivity, creativity and fun that drive our collective performance — and sanity.
Growth In Adoption Of Telehealth And Wellness Apps
In late March 2020, only weeks after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, telehealth visits increased 154%. Mobile app usage skyrocketed 40% during the pandemic as well. Downloads of wellness apps, in particular, have been growing. Sensor Tower found that telehealth app installations were up 33% just in the first quarter of 2021.
In response, innovative brands are designing new apps and improving existing ones to address the worldwide focus on well-being and health care. App Annie estimates that more than 71,000 new health and fitness apps were launched in 2020.
A Rebirth Of Conscious Consumerism
According to the Mintel 2021 Global Consumer Trends report, many consumers say they shop at retailers that support causes they believe in, and some are willing to boycott companies whose actions are unethical. Consumers are becoming more thoughtful about what they purchase, where it comes from and how their buying habits affect the world around them.
Conscious consumerism really comes down to values-based buying habits, and it will likely continue to impact everything from small purchases like cosmetics and clothing, to large ones, such as electric cars. As PwC’s June 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey indicates, buyers are thinking beyond just price and convenience in making purchasing decisions; they’re considering worldwide impact, the effect on ecosystems and wildlife, and the human cost. This trend probably isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
Expansion Of Plant-Based And Sustainable Food
According to the Plant Based Foods Association and the Good Food Institute, sales of plant-based foods grew 27% in 2020. As people become more aware of the effect that meat has on the environment, as well as ethical concerns about animal welfare, the popularity of veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarian diets that incorporate plant-based alternatives continues to rise.
Consumers also are shopping locally and seeking more organic food options. According to the Organic Trade Association’s 2021 U.S. Organic Industry Survey, annual sales of organic foods grew by more than 12% in 2020, spurred on by consumers looking for “ways to find overall wellness” in a time of global health challenges.
Reinvention Of Spaces For Life And Work
The pandemic has prompted many people to think differently about their homes and make long-lasting improvements. With people working and attending school from home, they’ve become more intimately tied to their living spaces and have begun valuing them differently. Home now represents much more than just where you live. For many, they’ve realized that they’re not where they want to be, and they’ve decided to move.
Many also are remodeling, purchasing furniture that supports multi-use space and expanding home offices. Home is now a place where more of our lives happen, and it has taken on a stronger reflection of personal values.
A Recommitment To Healthy Living
Supplement sales are booming, as is our attraction to personalized nutrition. The Nutrition Business Journal’s 2021 Personalized Nutrition Special report notes that “in 2020, supplement sales driven by personalized nutrition grew 35%.”
Many people also are recommitting to exercise, and home exercise equipment has become in demand.
Where Do We Go From Here?
These trends didn’t arrive out of nowhere, but the pandemic has shifted people’s focus and made consumers deeply consider what they value and where they’ll put their hard-earned dollars. The pandemic may have escalated the pace of change, but change won’t stop coming, and things won’t just go back to the way they were. This really is a lesson in adaptability.
Consumers have been motivated to alter how they live — from their personal health to their diets and their homes. Brands, marketers and agencies should closely watch statistics, trends and rapid changes in consumer behavior, or you’ll be left behind.
The reinvestment in self we’re seeing offers unique opportunities for brands to launch new products, services and experiences — or adapt their current offerings — to meet the moment. Content also needs to respond and support consumers in proactively addressing the areas of their lives that are shifting. Through a combination of market attentiveness, nimble adaptability and genuine concern for consumers’ needs, you can transform pandemic challenges into bright opportunities for relevance and growth.
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Author: Trish Thomas, Forbes Councils Member