2021 Consumer Trends Report: The Pandemic is Creating more Emotional Consumers

Emotional issues will underpin consumer decisions more than ever this year. COVID-19 is leaving a profound mark on their habits, causing the biggest change in recent decades. According to the 2021 Consumer Trends Report published by LLYC IDEAS, the comany’s thought leadership center, it has not only accelerated pre-existing trends, but also established new preferences and priorities. In its report, global communications and public affairs consulting firm LLYC concludes that this new environment and accompanying changes to rules of the game are redefining consumer relationships with brands.

Brand empathy will be almost compulsory for understanding this new consumer, who has been enveloped in the emotional tension of a pandemic for almost a year. This global citizen has reconnected with the basics and will gravitate toward perceptions of a safe and healthy home more than ever before. Furtheremore, mental health is no longer a taboo.

This new way of consuming has placed a great deal of emphasis on logistics. Consumers now demand immediate availability, but they are also moving toward new city models that prioritize proximity and local consumption. The economic crisis has accentuated the concept of accessibility. Brands are also being required to show increased levels of  responsibility, and companies must now redesign their retail and advertising strategies because of the increase in working from home and e-commerce.

David Gonzalez Natal, LLYC partner and senior director of  Consumer Engagement, recognizes that “x-raying this new pandemic-bron consumer has been a challenge, because we had never experienced such a sudden shift in trends stemming from adaptation to a new scenario. It is an opportunity for everyone, but brands will need to properly understand citizens and put themselves in their shoes more than ever if they want their ideas to be successful.”

According to Guillermo Lecumberri, LLYC’s Director of Consumer Engagement in Spain, “The lifestyle revolution we are experiencing includes a radical change in how we interact, as well as a return to more basic issues and safety guarantees. Consumers will demand extra effort from brands in their commitments to people, closer relations, and making a real difference in their lives, whether that comes through empathy and emotional connection or through more rational aspects, such as proximity and immediacy when responding to their needs.”

There are 10 trends that will characterize consumers in 2021:

1. Emotions rule
After being stuck on a roller coaster since last March, the rule of emotions will be further boosted by the Internet of Behaviors(IoB). The IoB can become a huge marketing and sales tool as it not only provides information about behavior, but also enables brand to predict behavior and even emotions at specific times. Doing so without losing consumer trust will be the big challenge.

2. Simple and minimal
We have reconnected with the basics. Minimalism and simplification will triumph, alongside those brands that commit to a less extensive but more meaningful offering. Some are already suggesting consumers buy fewer but higher quality products. Now is the time for hero products to shine, and to demonstrate how brands can have positive and real impacts on people’s lives through limited but powerful contributions.

3. Let’s talk about mental health
The conversation on mental illness has overcome the barriers of taboo, and even brands are now using it to reach consumers. According to the World Health Organization, 450 million people around the globe  suffer from a mental or behavioral disorder and around one million take their own lives every year. The emotional upheaval caused by the pandemic is simply aggravating this situation. Talking about mental health is therefore necessary, but must be done from the standpoint of responsibility many brands have already adopted.

4. Safe and healthy homes
We never imagined we would be spending so much time at home. The challenge for sustainable and eco-friendly architecture is to genuinely place people’s wellbeing at the heart of design. The WELL Building Standard™ illustrates this target well and seeks to be a model for measuring architectural characteristics that can support and promote a combination of comfort and health. The efficient use of technology in a smart home will be another key focus.

5. Social desynchronization
Our new way of life has a direct impact on the work, leisure and family spheres, requiring flexibility and an ability to define personal and employment boundaries. Consumers are increasingly demanding about the immediate availability of what they buy in this equation. As such, e-commerce is a new cornerstone thanks to the safety guarantees it offers. This is turning distribution and the last mile into strategic levers.

6. Accessibility rules
This feeling of uncertainty tied to concerns over health and the economic situation is making people more conservative in most of their decisions. Consumers think twice before spending their money and are more likely to save it. Accessibility is therefore once again an essential factor in building customer loyalty.

7. The age of creativity
Day-to-day life is forcing us to create new ways to live, the trends suggest this way of life will become the new status quo. The pandemic has greatly accelerated digitalization, and we are now seeing profound economic and social changes that will leave a mark on this generation. Companies and industries will need creativity to survive. 2021 will therefore require constant re-adaptation and an awakening of our most creative inner selves.

8. A new care model
The pandemic has led people to redefine their lifestyles, changing how they travel and live within urban environments and, thereby transforming the consumption experience. The challenge lies in facilitating a redesign of city centers that includes cultural activities, outdoor activities and sports.

9. Call-out culture
Isolation has deepened the cultural impact of the Internet, giving rise to a new era of online social activism. Call-out culture leaves almost no room to maneuver in the face of opinion judgements from users. Brands must therefore respond to the increased responsibility consumers are demanding from them to take action in the market.

10. Local support
Local consumption involves is revaluing city neighborhoods as relationship units and encouraging reflexive shopping with ties to sustainability and job creation. The challenge for 2021 will be to see how the importance consumers have placed on local businesses balances against the growth of e-commerce as the market returns to normal. In this scenario, the big players will need to approach their strategies from a genuinely “glocal” perspective.

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