The onset of the pandemic has drastically altered what has already been long regarded as standard customer journey. 2021 has seen huge demands in quick delivery and fulfillment of products and services with transactions occurring mostly online. Businesses have realized the importance of having an online presence and paying attention to consumer needs in such dimension. There have been observed shifts in consumer trends, reflecting the range of needs from Baby Boomers to those of Gen Z in the new normal way of business transactions. Moving forward, let’s talk about the key trends to watch for in 2022 to help update your online marketing strategy.
Online marketing attuned to consumer trends
For businesses, along with the imperative and urgency of digital transformation, there is the need for a digital marketing strategy. Digital transformation could be an ongoing internal process, developed through not only a digital marketing strategy but a well though-out road map. In the meantime, businesses need also to be continuously available to consumers in order to still see the day when they’ll be fully transformed. Paying attention to online consumer trends could help develop an online marketing strategy. Well, trends could just be ephemeral preferences or moments in a transition. But, paying attention to customer trends and still fulfilling expectations, however fleeting, builds trust and, in the long run, loyalty.
1. Shift in the customer journey
The question “When do I need it?” is “the new entry point in the consumer purchase decision tree” according to a recent Forbes article. Quoting PYMTS, Andrea Leigh explains that more than choosing whether to purchase online or in stores, customers want shopping to fit into their schedules. Customers not only decide how and where they are going to get the products and services they want. With the Internet and the new delivery options, they now also expect to get items delivered when they need them.
Products shown online with availability and shipping information are most likely those that would be preferred in the decision process. Of course, a business can create urgency by teasing a possibility of non-availability. However, it would also be helpful if it could provide information on shipping and delivery.
2. An always-on experience
The COVID-19 lockdowns and the availability of news and information online gave birth to the doomscrolling phenomenon. While consuming all kinds of content and information, online consumers are also passively shopping. In contrast to marketing to a customer intentionally going out to buy things on a list, passive shopping requires a different marketing approach.
Well, some brands have really taken advantage of consumers’ developed habits of spending much of their time online. Some brands have become intrusive, popping up ads or embedding them in sites most likely to be visited by their target customer. Some brands have also made themselves irresistible that consumers find themselves shopping even while they’re in online meetings. Because consumers have blended browsing for anything of interest and online window shopping, brands may need to blend in and be present in both. Some brands, for example, are advertising relatable brand values as inspirational content on Facebook or Instagram. Blending in nicely to consumers’ interests in social media feeds as though passively marketing leads to conversions and actual purchases.
It isn’t just social media, though. Understand your target market holistically and see in which online platform and by how she would most likely be comfortable engaging with an ad.
3. Sustainability and concern for the environment
Speaking of values and information, consumers have also become critical to brands’ concern for sustainability and the environment. The pandemic has raised consciousness regarding sustainability and the environment to a higher level and consumers now know better. Consumers look at, for example, nutrition facts and calorie counts. They research what brands say about their purpose. They want to know where and how brands source their product’s ingredients or materials.
The consumer purchase decision process now includes whether or not a brand throughout its business value chain incorporates sustainability and concern for the environment. To prove they care, some brands are posting on social media the event photos of their outreach or community programs. For the long term, though, businesses need to improve sustainability across all areas of business operations to build resilience.
4. Mental health, empathy, and family-first
More on values, showing that your business is really putting thought into developing products and services is appealing to consumers. Being able to relate to the motivations driving a consumer purchase decision and showing that you have developed the product or service to address exactly that are significant. You can, for example, show how your product is well thought-out to improve the life of the customer.
With all the negative news out there and online, consumers prefer those that can improve their mental health and overall well-being. The lockdowns and doomscrolling have also highlighted the value and concern for the family. Show sincere empathy by relating how your product or service prioritizes the customer’s need and concern for the family. A bit counter-intuitive, Lush, for example, has recently decided to switch off their social media activities to help people regain their well-being.
5. Privacy perspectives
In a SmarterHQ whitepaper, consumers shared how to win them over without crossing the line. According to the report, 79% of surveyed consumers believe companies know too much about them. Reading the same report, SmartInsights highlighted that 86% of consumers are concerned about their data privacy. “Of these, Baby Boomers and Gen X are the least trusting consumers,” the article observed. On the other hand, Millennials and Gen Z are “around 47% more trusting than their older counterparts.”
Here are the reasons consumers are willing to share their data. 90% share their data to receive exclusive discounts on products they like. 87% just want to have issues resolved quickly and hassle-free. 85% share their information to receive back-in-stock alerts for products they want. 82% want to receive personalized product recommendations. 81% want to find products faster and easier.
Keep these privacy perspectives in mind in crafting your online marketing strategy for your target market. Be clear also why you’re collecting their data and be careful not to cross the line.
The search for authenticity became a trend in recent years. Such focus largely contributed to the growth of the travel industry as people traveled the world in search of authenticity. With the travel restrictions due to the pandemic, people spent most of their time indoors, entertaining existential thoughts. Some found out that they are not, after all, essential workers. Adding that to the thought of outdoor restrictions, then thoughts of self-doubt pile up over motivations toward self-actualization.
Show that you are customer-centered and that you are a brand the customer can rely on. This is important as “today’s consumers are seeking a more meaningful connection with brands,” according to a recent Forbes article. For this, a Forbes expert panel article recommends showing your brand’s human side, building emotional engagement, being genuine, and authentic. Going back to Andrea Leigh’s Forbes article mentioned earlier, you need to go on a deeper level. The key is to find “ways to appeal to consumer’s self-improvement, self-actualization, and need for higher-order fulfillment.”
Keep in mind the above consumer trends in developing your online marketing strategy for 2022. Not only will those help get your business through the hardships forced by the pandemic but could also develop resilience. Again, start by focusing on the current trend of the digital customer journey. Pay attention to their held values and priorities in engaging with them while respecting their preferences for privacy. Be a brand the individual customer can rely on, someone who can help her achieve self-actualization.
Further, as hinted at earlier, your online marketing strategy needs to evolve to a digital transformation road map. You may find more information about business resilience and digital transformation in our previous articles. If you need access to better online marketing strategies or third-party providers, we at StratAccess could help you with it.