Emerging Patterns in Consumer Behavior in 2022

Published Feb 15, 2022

Toluna Corporate

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The only way to keep in constant touch with your target audience’s needs and expectations is to ask them directly—and in real time.

Consumers want to engage with brands that support them and share their values, so brands must continue to evolve in the way they position and market themselves. That’s why our Global Consumer Barometer takes a regular pulse check across global markets to understand changes in consumer sentiments, and we report our findings to help guide smarter business choices.

Today, we bring you the feedback we’ve received from consumers in the face of a new year, with results gathered between January 4-10, 2022. Here, we share the top trends to keep an eye on in the year ahead and look back at key takeaways from the 2021 holiday season.

Consumers are optimistic, but still cautious around spending and job security.

Life satisfaction has improved compared to January 2021, with 41% of global consumers reporting that they feel very satisfied with their life over the last two weeks, compared to just 32% in January 2021. Thirty-nine percent also report feeling very optimistic about the future.

Optimism aside, only 24% of global consumers are confident about spending money — a number that has dropped since our last Barometer study. There’s a good reason for this, as four in ten consumers say they have less money now than they did before the pandemic, and express ongoing concerns over job security, as well. Thirty-seven percent of global consumers either feel worried about their employment, are in reduced employment, or have become unemployed since the pandemic, and one in five global consumers feel worried about their employment in general.

Further still, 55% of global consumers agree that the energy crisis and rising energy costs are impacting their spending. Therefore, thirty-three percent of global consumers anticipate spending more on utility bills in 2022.

Financial wellbeing and job security have been — and remain — major concerns for global consumers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes it important for brands to continue considering price points and affordability of what they’re bringing to market in the weeks and months ahead.

Health and spending concerns impacted the 2021 holiday season.

Considering the ways that the global pandemic has changed in recent months along with consumers’ financial concerns, it may not be surprising that COVID-19 heavily impacted the 2021 holiday season, from shopping and gifting to travel and beyond. Here’s what consumers said when it came to last year’s celebrations:

45% say they were very concerned about COVID-19 over the holiday period

31% were very concerned about being able to afford the holidays, and 58% tried to save ahead given economic uncertainty

43% of people celebrated more at home this holiday season as a result of COVID-19

33% didn’t really plan in advance for the holiday season given the COVID-19 situation

While 21% of consumers spent more on gifts, 33% spent less due to personal finances

In other holiday trends, earlier shopping patterns were reported by 32% of global consumers, sparked by concerns about stock shortages as the holidays approached. Two in five consumers did their holiday shopping in October and November as opposed to waiting for December in 2021.

With a rise in COVID-19-related restrictions and uncertainty, there was a decrease in global consumption of alcohol in restaurants and pubs or bars over the 2021 holiday season. Consumers were also more likely to cut back on spending for pre-holiday festivities and socialization this holiday season than in years past.

Consumers are open to trying new products and brands.

With ever-changing consumer priorities and preferences come fresh opportunities for brands to capture new customers at any given time. Brand loyalty isn’t what it once was, as more than half of global consumers report trying new brands, products, or services because of their pricing and promotions.

The categories that consumers are most likely to have tried or express willingness to try new brands/products in are food and drink, personal care, household cleaning, and technology. But what else is enticing the 2022 consumer to think outside the box, aside from pricing and promos? Here are their top motivators for trying something new:

38% For a change or to try something different

33% Convenience

31% Availability

29% A healthier option

28% Recommendation from others

26% Brand values

Brand values remain top-of-mind for consumers worldwide.

More than ever, consumers consider the values behind the brands they support. It’s no longer all about the products and services themselves, but also the brand’s accountability and positive action for people and the planet, that helps them earn and keep customer loyalty. Consider these impactful consumer sentiments:

60% of global consumers go out of their way to engage with brands that align with their values

79% of global consumers believe that brands should be accountable to consumers

74% of global consumers believe that brands should care about their role and contribution to society

How can brands meet these new consumer non-negotiables? According to customers, they should offer fair pricing, high-quality products and services, and innovation. They should listen to consumers, and prioritize greater clarity, sincerity, and honesty in their customer communications. Alignment with consumers’ values around environment and social responsibility is another key to brand success. An overwhelming 74% of global consumers find it important that brands care about their role and contribution to society.

Sustainability and the climate crisis heavily influence consumer patterns, too.

More than half of global consumers (56%) believe that positive changes regarding the climate crisis should be the responsibility of brands or manufacturers, and yet 52% of consumers say that companies aren’t doing enough to support environmental issues. Only around three in ten consumers believe that institutions are being ambitious enough with climate change targets and trust that they will keep their promises.

These figures present global brands with the opportunity to step up their communications, commitments, and environmental efforts to answer the urgent consumer call for their involvement. Why?

64% of consumers would never invest in a product that was detrimental to sustainability

Nearly a quarter are willing to try new products or services because they are more sustainable or environmentally friendly

38% of consumers were more concerned about sustainability and environmental issues when buying gifts this holiday season

As such, placing an emphasis on sustainability efforts represents a great opportunity for businesses across industries and around the world.

As we move forward in 2022 and beyond, brands that are active, engaged, and listening to their audience will be well-positioned to attract new customers and increase loyalty among existing ones. Stay tuned for the latest from our Global Consumer Barometer as we continue to monitor and report real-time insights in this ever-changing market.

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