Retail in Asia

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What are the 2021 top 10 global consumer trends?

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The world transformed in 2020. Consumer habits and business operations were upended due to COVID-19. During this volatile time, it is imperative to prioritise what customers want. Identifying the new consumer trends early will allow brands to create products and services that resonate with consumers.

SEE ALSO : Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2020

Euromonitor International’s Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2021 report reveals the most impactful trends that will define consumer behaviour in 2021. These are the trends to look out for this year.

Build Back Better

Consumers demand that companies care beyond revenue, and they no longer perceive businesses as profit-driven entities. In 2020, 50% of professionals believed their company was purpose-driven. It is now expected that businesses care beyond revenue and prioritise the triple bottom line – people, planet and profits.

“Like many other regions in the world, under COVID-19, consumers in Asia Pacific are demanding companies to focus beyond revenue and to pay more attention to sustainability in order to prevent another pandemic from happening in their lifetime,” said Peter Wong, Senior Analyst at Euromonitor International.

“Perceivably, businesses are no longer mere profit-driven entities and are expected to be becoming purpose-driven organisations which would be equally concerned with the sustainable development of the planet and the human race as a whole along with profits. In response to this, companies in Asia Pacific are embracing enormous sustainability initiatives on not just environmental and but also social fronts,” Wong noted.

“For instance, in Vietnam, PHG Lock, an electronic lock company, re-directed its technology to create free rice ATMs for giving back to people who suffered from the pandemic in Ho Chi Minh City in April 2020. In Australia, Grown Alchemist launched the ‘Skin Care Support’ programme in June 2020 to allow pandemic-struck customers to choose what they could pay for the products. Without a doubt, Asian consumers are now more than happy to shop with these merchants who care about our planet and
society,” he added.

Craving Convenience

COVID-19 reduced impulse occasions, and walk-ins are now pre-planned. People want the convenience of the pre-pandemic world back. Businesses are under pressure to rapidly adapt their operations to develop a resilient and seamless customer experience while maintaining convenience.

“Covid-19 has changed consumption patterns for APAC’s consumers,” said Emily Leung, Senior Analyst at Euromonitor.

“During times of quarantine and lockdowns, customers craving for convenience have reached a whole new level. Offline retailers like drugstore Bonjour and jewelry specialist Chow Tai Fook aim to provide in store experience for those at home through live streaming sessions from staff as well as setting up online sales and commission systems. Despite the prevalence of the home cooking trend, online consumer food service providers like Deliveroo and Food panda still benefit from booming increase in number of orders during the pandemic season because of busy lifestyles and convivence seekers who are too lazy to prep meals,” she added.

“Even for those customers who are still going out to shop, loyalty programs that allows them to accumulate and manage points from multiple stores such as Yuu and moneyback are becoming increasingly popular among APAC’s customers who long for seamless shopping experiences,” said Leung.

Outdoor Oasis

Consumers are turning to the outdoors for leisure and recreation. Outdoor venues or indoor alternatives will continue to be encouraged. Spending more time outside provides the feeling of connectedness while disconnecting from crowds. Integrating Outdoor Oasis features will become essential for leisure and entertainment providers to attract new customers and retain loyalty.

Phygital Reality

Physical and virtual worlds collide to keep people connected to the outside world. Digital tools will become integral to operations as they allow consumers to stay connected while at home and re-enter the outside world safely as economies reopen. Integrating virtual processes into brick-and-mortar locations is imperative to ensure customers feel safe to return to physical spaces, while continue driving sales and collecting data.

“In APAC, a region that millennials and Generation Z (Gen-Z) become the two key consumer groups for e-commerce market, both millennials and Gen-Z are highly adapted to both virtual and physical store for their shopping journey, unlike Generation X consumers,” said Herbert Yum, Research Manager at Euromonitor International.

“Brands like Nike, Uniqlo and SK-II, knowing the digital native nature of younger consumers, have implemented both AR and VR technology to enhance consumers’ both online and offline shopping experience by offering virtual foot size checking function for sneakers, in-store magic mirror for consumers to try on apparel items , as well as a AR featured Pop-Up store like SK-II Wonderland.”

“AR and VR are still in its rapid developing phase where most consumers are still having their novice experience, especially on e-commerce. Untapped potential is huge as the technology advancement on future AR and VR hard and software would be the key determinator of the future growth of this segment. However, one thing is for sure, the application of AR and VR trend in retailing would continue to thrill in the future,” he noted.

Playing with Time

51% of consumers chose “time for myself” amongst their top three life priorities in 2020. Consumers are now both able and forced to be more creative with their time in order to get everything done. Newfound flexibility provides more time, but finding the best use of this time can be difficult. As a result, a 24-hour service culture will emerge to allow businesses to tailor and provide offerings around consumers’ schedules.

Restless and Rebellious

Consumers are fed up. Distrust in leadership has become the norm. Bias and misinformation are causing a crisis of confidence. Having suffered, put others first and gone without, these self-care aficionados are now rebelling, placing their own needs and wants first. With the pervasive distrust in media and online content, companies will have an opportunity and an obligation to ensure that marketing dispels misinformation. More precise marketing on social media and via gaming will be key for a company navigating 2021.

Safety Obsessed

Safety and health will be at the forefront of consumer behaviour. The fear of infection and increased health awareness will drive demand for hygiene products and contactless solutions to avoid exposure.

Consumer needs will evolve from basic hygiene to general health. Companies across industries should develop robust hygiene initiatives in response to heightened concerns.

Felix Wong, Analyst from Euromonitor comments, “though being less struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asia Pacific market still witnessed stronger nerves in hygiene maintenance and preventative health. To safeguard their beloved and themselves, consumers in general became more diligent home-cleaners, giving rise to drastic double-digit growth in various home care wipes and surface care in 2020.”

“Personal wipes and sanitizers had also been become new favourites for on-the-go hygiene needs. Caution is not only taken from outside body – APAC also saw more consumers seeking for immunity-boosting and health from inside, such as the guardianship of digestive health products. Beyond supplements, probiotics and prebiotics are also increasingly incorporated into food and even personal care products as a popular competitive edge in new product developments,” Wong added.

Shaken and Stirred

The global pandemic reconfigured daily lives, testing mental resilience, restricting experiences and provoking economic shocks. Depression and mental health had a moderate or severe impact on 73% of global consumers’ everyday lives last year. People are reassessing priorities and identities in pursuit of a more secured, balanced and fulfilled life.

Thoughtful Thrifters

Consumers are cautious and frugal. Discretionary spending is declining due to the uncertain economic environment. These thoughtful consumers will prioritise value-added and health-conscious products and services.At the beginning of 2020, 49% of consumers intended to put more money into savings in the next 12 months. In 2021, value-added and health-conscious products are being prioritised.

Workplaces in New Spaces

Out of office took a new meaning in 2020. Working from home had a ripple effect on everyday life, from clothing choices to technology spend to eating habits and beyond. The traditional office will be redefined. Businesses must support work-life balance, productivity and communication needs.

“Lack of a proper switching between office and off-office hour is one of the key factors that hinders a proper work-life balance during remote working. This is particularly true in Asia as countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, the concept of more work, more pay (or better performance) is planted in most of the employees’ mind,” added Herbert Yum.

“A user-friendly online infrastructure for online work setup is essential, as the easier the online infrastructure for employees to use, the more engaging the employees will be. This is not only limited to online meeting software, but also applies to cloud storage facility, as well as the hardware side, including the laptops, computer peripherals available at home and the internet connection,” he concluded.

SEE ALSO : China-based Brands to Keep an Eye on in 2021

Resilience and adaptability are the driving forces behind the trends in 2021. Despite the many hardships, consumers have not given up. They continue to find their voice and push forward to advocate for a better tomorrow. Businesses should offer value-added products and services to accommodate consumers, providing multifunctional and affordable solutions.

Read more about the 10 trends on the report.