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The Shifting Needs of Today's Consumer

Posted 31 Jan 2022

Chad Reynolds

Today, a huge opportunity exists between brands and their customers to forge closer relationships.

And a powerful mindset shift is underway by both consumers and product companies. Gone are the days of consumers coming in at the end of the product development process to validate or refine something before it gets launched.

The shift is happening where consumers are being invited to the front of the product development process, where brands don’t look at them as consumers but as creators in the problem that they’re trying to solve. And consumers actually want to have a relationship with brands and the brands want to have relationships with them, so they can solve problems together.

Consumers now prefer transparency, continuous dialogue, and collaboration when deciding to make purchases and pledging their allegiances to brands. 

Four dynamics are powering this shift.

1. Active Consumer Participation 

Recent research shows just how much consumers today want to be engaged in the product creation process:

  • 83% of millennials and Gen Z consumers say they would be more likely to purchase from a brand that asked for their feedback
  • 66% say they would like more opportunities to share feedback with their favorite brands.
  • 22% say having a say in how or what products are made is a key driver of their brand loyalty

In the same study, 41% of retail professionals said the top challenge for their product teams is accurately understanding consumer preferences, which reveals a real gap between a desire by consumers for more dialogue with brands and a perceived lack of engagement and discovery by brands with consumers.

Photo by Mo from Pexels

2. Experiential Technology and Virtual Worlds 

Consumers of 2022 have become accustomed to digital-first experiences and they fully expect brands to continue raising the bar, whether or not they are returning to physical stores. Many technologies are now being used to elevate customer experiences and increase engagement, including virtual reality and apps with in-store functionality. And retailers are trying more and more creative ways to connect with their customers with tools such as QR codes and video surveys.

Late last year, Facebook (now Meta) unveiled its metaverse, combining virtual reality, augmented reality and video where users “live” within a digital universe. Enthusiasts of the metaverse envision its users working, playing and staying connected with friends through virtual work, travel or entertainment using VR headsets. Although it will likely take 5-10 years for the metaverse to become truly mainstream, virtual showrooms, interior design sets and interactive wardrobes are already popping up. And people aren’t just selling physical goods – non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – curated, one-of-a-kind virtual art – are quickly taking off as the next hot commodity.

3. Privacy Concerns

Brands greatly value the data they collect about their customers. With this information, they can send out targeted advertising, predict long-term trends in sales and improve their products. But consumers see things very differently, and they are growing more and more uneasy about the corporations’ common data collection practices.

A recent KPMG study found:

  • 86% of consumers are increasingly concerned about data privacy
  • 78% are fearful about the amount of personal data that is being collected 
  • 40% say they don’t trust companies to use their data ethically
  • 47% say they’re concerned about the possibility of their data being hacked
  • 51% are worried about their being sold to third parties 

So, businesses clearly have a lot of work ahead of them to make their customers more comfortable with how they are collecting and using their data. 

Some companies are taking their cues from consumers. Apple introduced a new pop-up window for iPhones asking people for their permission to be tracked by different apps. Google recently announced its plans to disable the tracking technology in its Chrome browser. And Facebook said it’s working on a new methodology for displaying ads without tapping into its users’ personal data.

Photo by from Pexels

4. Trading Toxicity for Self Care 

The pandemic has made consumers highly sensitive. They’re frustrated by the toxicity of social media and acutely aware of the impacts of their consumerism. Many have made the shift to being more mindful of their consumption and now are actively considering how their purchasing decisions impact others, their health and the environment. It’s a shift to more mindful consumption that’s being seen across every industry.

According to a recent survey by Aflac:

  • 70% of American consumers today believe it’s either “somewhat” or “very important” for companies to make the world a better place
  • 77% say they’re motivated to purchase from companies that are committed to making the world a better place
  • 55% believe it’s important for companies to take a stand on key social, environmental and political issues

Another study found that consumers have high expectations for brands but little trust in them:

  • 64% of consumers say they prefer to buy from companies with a reputation for purpose as well as profit, a 10-point increase over the previous year 
  • 53% say they will pay more for brands that take stands on social issues
  • 75% say a brand could disappear and they wouldn’t care or would easily find a replacement

In 2022 and beyond, consumers will continue to expect more from brands. For the four key `reasons above, their expectations are sky high and forgiveness seems to be in short supply. Consumers want their brands to know who they are, what they care about and then engage them in a more personalized way.

Vurvey is dedicated to serving forward-looking companies that are attuned to the emerging desires of consumers who want to be active participants in brands. Our innovative enterprise platform for co-creation includes mobile-first video feedback, augmented reality, digital workrooms, and QR codes, providing the means for capturing authentic consumer insights, running virtual focus groups, and testing product concepts anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

If you’re ready to turn your customers into creators, schedule your free demo today.

Chad Reynolds

About the author

Chad Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Vurvey, an innovative co-creation platform that empowers companies to partner with consumers to build, test, and launch winning products. Chad is a serial tech entrepreneur, often speaking at industry events about human-centered design, co-creation, and disruptive innovation, as well as serving as a mentor and board member for high-growth start-ups.

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