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  The Herman Trend Alert

February 10, 2021

The 6 Top Consumer Trends to Watch in 2021

Many years ago, I started my consulting practice as a marketing consultant. When I learned about the Values and Lifestyles Study from what was then the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), I was hooked on a field call "psychographics." I think about the field as "the study of why people act as they do, including values, attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria."

Clicksuasion is a company that looks at consumer behavior to help their clients anticipate shifts that are likely to affect how people make decisions. Their recently released Consumer Marketing Trends discusses the consumer behavior marketers may expect in 2021. Their webinar last month explored the most likely top consumer priorities and expectations for brands in this era of a global pandemic, vulnerability, uncertainty, and cultural strife. This Herman Trend Alert highlights their 6 top consumer trends to watch.

1. Homecentric
With the Pandemic forcing us to stay home, our residences have become our places for work, play, entertainment, and more. Not only are consumers spending much more on home improvement, but they are also buying office furniture, upgrading bathrooms, and finishing previously untapped spaces in their properties. Though the expectation is that once this novel coronavirus is under control, this home orientation may lessen, for now, it is the number one shift to capitalize on. Moreover, 47 percent of the people they polled believed that the Pandemic will have a lasting effect on the way they think about their homes. Clicksuasion's Advice: Innovate product offerings and distribution channels to serve consumers' home-first lifestyle.

2. Hybrid Lifestyle
Marketers that understand we are living hybrid lifestyles combining digital conveniences with our analog (tangible) lives. Mobile apps to help us get things done, meetings that are both in-person and online, and using online platforms to share previously solo experiences, like watching a movie or a television show are all examples of our hybrid existence. One suggestion is to move to video customer service---that certainly could be a unique selling proposition. Clicksuasion's Advice: Look at the digital experiences you are currently delivering to customers as well as your virtual event plans; think about how you might move to real-time and real-place events, when possible.

3. Employee Activism
Though this driver was not expected until 2023 or 2024, the advent of the Pandemic sped up its arrival. By 2022, one-third of publicity budgets will be dedicated to crisis communications to respond to employees speaking out against the organization. Clicksuasion's Advice: Create a partnership between Human Resources and Communications to address negative comments from employees. Prepare a response to consumers' concerns about these employees' comments. You may even be able to prevent a crisis by being proactive; share the Voice of the Customer (VoC) to drive internal dialogue and change that conversation when brand messaging and actions of employees (or the company) are misaligned. Another means for being pre-emptive is to drive positive employee experience by giving young employees a feeling of purpose.

4. Magnify Main Street
Sometimes the past informs the future. For the period between March and December 2019, consumers' top concern, besides the availability of products in stores, was the demise of neighborhood businesses. During this challenging period, consumers kept track of local devastation throughout the pandemic. Interestingly, consumers trust small business to deliver better experiences, have better internal policies, take care of the community better, and are safer than big businesses. Clicksuasion's Advice: Provide support for local businesses with charity and promotion. These real partnerships make a difference for local consumers.

5. Alternative Income Sources
Throughout North America, respondents to their study worked on "side hustles" for an average of 13 hours per week across 4 days. The median annual income from these side hustles was about USD $5000; almost half (49 percent) of the participants had more than one side job as well. Some forward-thinking companies are actually helping their employees to make money with side hustles. Clicksuasion's Advice: Partner with HR to create contract and other side hustle projects that contribute to key performance indicators. Understand that these side hustle projects may also contribute to self-worth.

6. Conservative Overt Consumerism
Consumers with affluence and influence are those most likely to reduce their social media posts related to their purchases. These lucky consumers are concerned about what other people will think when so many others are suffering financially and physically. Clicksuasion's Advice: Find ways to establish deeper relationships with your existing customers to engender brand enthusiasm. Be sure to align your messaging and brand values with the evolving aspirations, want, and needs of your target market. Look for alternative channels for social media to connect with consumers and deliver content.

What These 6 Trends Mean to You
Wise marketers will understand that consumers have been affected by the Pandemic in big and small ways. To quote my friend bestselling author Marshall Goldsmith, "What got you here won't get you there."

Very special thanks to Mike Barbera, Founder of Clicksuasion, one of the United States' leading companies focused on the value of delivering positive experiences to all of an organization's stakeholders. Access their website here. And for a special treat, tune into the podcast I cohost with Ira Wolfe, Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization on March 14th when Mike will be our special guest.

Next Week's Herman Trend Alert: Testing Cures for COVID-19
From Israel comes a story about two promising pharmaceuticals now going into Phase II testing. Though the Phase 1 sample size was very small, with 100 percent recovery, I think you might want to know about these breakthrough drugs.

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