As the Internet of Things continues to grow in both use and popularity, its impact on the consumer continues to change the marketplace. In 2019, people are starting to look for more of a balance, figuring out where the equilibrium will be between technology and human interactions in their buying decisions. People are looking for ways to address their own reality and make it more manageable, rather than trying to escape it through technology as they did in 2018. This creates an interesting quandary for retailers and other brands who must learn to market to buyers with this new focus.
In light of this shift, brands and those who study business and marketing must find new ways to connect with customers. While technology is still an important part of this, people are starting to shift towards wanting a balance between technology and human interactions. As you work towards earning a communication degree online, understanding the trends that impact consumers and their buying decisions will be a helpful tool.
So how has the customer changed in 2019? As you considering marketing to the current demographic, keep in mind that in 2019:
- Consumers are favoring balance between digital and physical shopping experiences.
- The definition of beauty is changing.
- Influencer marketing continues to be a strong factor.
- Eco-friendly products and packaging with low plastic content is helpful.
- Consumers are placing value on products and services that save them time.
Trends Affecting Consumers in 2019
Though technology remains important, the consumer in 2019 is looking for balance.
Convergence of Digital and Physical Shopping
In an effort to find a balance between technology and human interaction, today’s consumer is interested in both a digital and physical shopping experience. While past years saw closing of many brick-and-mortar stores in light of the Amazon revolution, in 2019 Forbes indicates a shift. Now, many online-only businesses are opening physical spaces.
Other retailers, like Target, are learning how to merge their digital shopping environments with their physical spaces. This trend has led to the creation of a new term, “Phygital,” which refers to the merged brick-and-mortar experience and the online shopping experience.
A New Definition of Beauty
All brands must understand what consumers define as beautiful, as it will impact everything from model selection for advertisements to the products people choose to buy. The definition of beauty is changing as consumers crave diversity and inclusivity. Many shoppers respond positively to ads that include people with disabilities, people of different body sizes, and people with a diverse set of physical features.
On the other hand, consumers are responding negatively and rejecting brands that push a specific “traditional” definition of beauty. Beauty is now seen as a way to express one’s self, rather than a way to fit into a mold. Brands that respond to this trend by embracing diversity in both their products and their advertising choices will see greater success as 2019 progresses.
The Role of “Influence” Will Become Even Greater
Social influencers are growing in importance among brands and marketing professionals. A recommendation from a well-loved blogger or radio personality can drive more sales than a strategically positioned advertisement. Reviews from real consumers will influence more buying decisions than just about anything else.
What makes influencers so valuable in changing consumer actions is the many different platforms where they can get across their messages. From online platforms to Instagram and other social media channels, to radio and television advertising, influential people are able to leverage multiple channels to drive purchase decisions. Brands that incorporate this knowledge into their business plans will find greater success in the coming years.
Demand for Eco-Friendly, Low Plastic Options
Eco-friendly is not a new trend, but in 2019 it is becoming increasingly important. In early 2018, China ended the import of plastics for recycling, and America faced a serious problem. Now, with nowhere to send plastics, recycling initiatives have become less beneficial. Many cities, even those with recycling programs, are left with huge piles of plastic with nowhere to dispose of them. Because of this, some cities have actually stopped offering recycling programs altogether, because they do not have the facilities to recycle and no longer have a place to sell the plastics to have them recycled. Those that are keeping these programs are paying quite a bit more for them. Recycling less, however, certainly does not align with consumer desires. In 2019, a large portion of the population is concerned about the environment. It took some time for consumers to understand the impact of China’s plastic ban, but now that they are aware, it is changing the way they buy products.
As a result, many consumers are willing to spend more for products that were packaged in an eco-friendly way. Recyclable and recycled packaging is something people will pay more to have. Many brands, like IKEA, are phasing out single-use plastic products and oil-based plastic materials in favor of more eco-friendly options. Brands that follow this trend may find greater success in the coming years.
Time Saving Becomes a Premium Service
In 2019, life is busier than ever. As a result, consumers are demanding their products and services right now. They do not have time to wait for the things they need, and mobile technology makes it even easier to order products and services in the moment of need. This “efficiency-driven lifestyle” means that consumers are more than happy to spend money on something that will save them some time.
Some marketers are responding accordingly.
For example, many major retailers, including Walmart and Target, are offering pickup services. Shoppers shop on their phones or computers, then arrive at the store at a scheduled time with their groceries ready to get loaded into their car. Amazon Go stores, launched in Seattle and Chicago, have ditched the checkout line. Customers simply scan their app when they enter the store, pick up what they need and leave. Their Amazon account is automatically charged for what they buy.
This trend also translates into the online shopping world. Fast, even next day, delivery remains in high demand. Consumers are used to the lighting speed of Amazon Prime and are willing to pay well for similar services from other retailers.
What These Trends Mean for Communication Professionals
The way in which a brand communicates its value with its target market is an essential to its success. Marketing and communication professionals must understand consumer trends in order to better serve their clients. When you as a communication professional are able to capture the essence of today’s consumers, you are better able to draft communications that will highlight the value the brand provides, framing it in light of the consumer’s unique desires.
The University of Southern California Master of Communications Management Online, offered through the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, offers courses that focus on a variety of pertinent topics relating to consumer trends and behaviors. These materials may help better prepare those within the program to understand trends and how to adapt to them.