Lee is an Engineer turned SEO Consultant and Blogger at ecommercecookie.com. When he is not writing or helping clients with SEO, Lee enjoys spending time with his family while enjoying cookies with a glass of milk .
This pandemic, and the resulting lockdown, has sped up consumer digital adoption and introduced new trends, rapidly. Get down the article below to keep track of consumer trends
Like many people I know, if you told me 2020 was gonna be my year, I would be right there with ya. That is until the world turned on its head due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I do not have to mention what followed next, we’ve all been personal witnesses.
While the impact of covid-19 on people has rightly taken center stage across the world, its impact on businesses, large and small, is just as far-reaching and well set in stone for decades to come. However, as the saying goes, to every cloud there is a silver lining, such is the case in business too.
The latest data from trusted sources and opinions of key industry experts show emerging digital trends that will shape consumer habits for the long term. As such, let this be clear, for businesses to win customers and stay afloat in 2021 and beyond, they will have to adapt and adjust to meet these needs.
Ready? Let’s uncover these trends together and find out what they could mean for small businesses. Let’s jump right in.
1. We’re reorienting our living spaces
Thanks to quarantine we’ve enjoyed some hilarious work-from-home epic fail as our homes turned into offices in the morning, yoga classrooms in the afternoon, and sleeping quarters at night.
Realizing that we’re spending more time in our homes, the next logical thing to do is make them more pleasant to live in, and that’s what many consumers are continuing to do. Searches for home living related searches continue to remain steady, as can be seen in the chart below.
It’s not only online retail behemoths like Amazon, workspace solutions providers like Zoom, and entertainment on-demand companies like Netflix that have seen tremendous growth, but small businesses that focused on facilitating pleasurable home living products have also faired well during the pandemic. Some of the best niches currently on the uptick include:
- Hobbyist niche: People have developed new hobbies during the pandemic, which presents an opportunity to capture some of the new customers.
- Home fitness niche: From yoga mats, to wobble boards, to acupressure pillow and massage guns, there is no limit to what you can sell.
- Kitchen niche: Spending more time at home inevitably means more time in the kitchen. Portable blenders, electric kettles, and wine fridges are some of the products in a long list of products currently in high demand.
- Home decor and living: From air-purifying plants to blackout curtains, to orthopedic pillows to simple things as soap dishes - opportunities are endless.
The list can go on, but one thing is clear: businesses that focus on serving customers in these niches are set to benefit in 2021 and beyond.
2. Local is Lekker
Lekker is an Afrikaans word meaning preferable or pleasing.
Small businesses have particularly taken the biggest hit due to lockdown restrictions. Born out of the need to sustain small local businesses, many consumers are motivated to buy from local stores and independents, according to Google’s economic impact report, and confirmed by Shopify’s analysis of over $1.5 billion in sales during the late last year’s BFCM campaign.
Many marketers know that 46% of all Google searches are for local businesses, but few know that these searches with local intent such as “near me” or “close by” grew by more than 900% over a period of 2 years.
The statistics are clear: localism is still alive and well. Businesses and marketers that exude authentic localism in their branding efforts are bound to gain from this trend.
For local business owners, the first place to start is to claim your Google My Business (GMB) profile and then list/update your business info on popular online business directories.
3. Simple pleasures beyond guilty pleasures
Being in lockdown sparked ideas in many on how they could effectively use the suddenly available time. Some dusted off the novel that's been gathering dust for some time, while others finally decided to try making sourdough bread that's been resurfacing on their social media feed for a while. But for others, it was time to turn to gardening and knitting as a way of organizing their thinking and improving mood.
Granted, these hobbies are nothing new, they've been with us for a long time. But the zeal and excitement are surely here to stay. Here is Google trends data showing a significantly higher rate for “gardening” compared to 2019.
For brands, marketers and bloggers in this niche, this is something to watch out for - no doubt.
4. Fitness and health are on a winning streak
Fitness and health continue to see strong and steady growth. The rise of Instagram influencers is fueling this demand. With gyms and sports centers closed and more time at home, meant more people had to find creative ways to get their endorphins flowing. And believe me, there is no shortage of Instagram ideas out there.
Public places like gyms and restaurants were no doubt some big losers but for those that have adapted, possibilities remained endless. Take Dominos as an example, as far back as 2009 Dominos started optimizing their stores for delivery and takeouts - adopting the use of cloud kitchens before it became “cool” - many businesses didn’t think much of it.
But 10 years later, now many businesses scrambling to weather the pandemic storm, Dominos is reaping the rewards of the rise of food delivery due to the pandemic.
Organic food, vitamins, activity trackers, massage guns and some currently trending intermittent fasting methods such as the use of fasting tea have been on the upswing pre and post-pandemic. For some big wins, this niche will be hard to ignore post 2021 and beyond.
5. Intense focus on brands that do good
While economic factors remain of the most important factor that influences buyer decision, more and more customers value sustainability and ethical consumption, leading to prioritization of business that are seen to being good over others. This interest peaked during the pandemic but surely remains steady and uprising.
Expectations of brands doing good has never been higher. According to one study on brand trust and the pandemic, 62% of respondents said that their country will not make it through this crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing the challenges. Translation? Brands that put people over profits are likely to see strong support and growth.
According to the same study, carried across 12 countries, 71% agree that if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever.
The message is clear: 2021 and beyond is for brands that genuinely care about improving the lives of their customers and contributing to social issues of the time.
6. Apps are becoming ever more present in our lives
Mobile phone habits are becoming an indispensable part of our society. Actually, they are not “becoming” anymore, but rather are an all-important new normal. While research has shown this trend for a couple of years now, many businesses are still playing catch-up.
Moving parallel to this mobile-first reality is the ever-growing use of mobile apps to stay connected, informed, entertained, and healthy. Since the start of the pandemic, time spent in apps has grown by 20%. Businesses, large and small, can take advantage of this mobile-adoption curve to serve their customers better.
One in three urban living Americans say they have ordered online from a local restaurant using a mobile app, according to Pew Reaserch Center.
Take Starbucks for example. While many businesses closed doors to adhere to social distancing measures, Starbucks has been able to open stores by allowing its customers to order via an app, and thus reducing queues and therefore making it easy to adhere to social distancing measures.
7. Accelerated checkout is non-negotiable
When customers place items in their online shopping cart, the next thing they want to do is checkout, not fill out forms or create mandatory accounts or even discover hidden fees. In March 2020, cart abandonment contributed to 69.80% of all lost revenue across multiple eCommerce industries. While there are many reasons why customers abandoned their carts, a long, complex checkout process is one of the leading reasons customers abandon payment.
According to one study done by Shopify, a seamless and fast checkout experience increased conversion rate by 4x for merchants using their Shop App - Shopify’s accelerated checkout app that remembers customers’ preferred methods.
Despite many businesses taking steps to allow a seamless and safe checkout experience, the average checkout length still has 5.1 steps. This remains a unique but worthwhile challenge for businesses of tomorrow to overcome. One-click checkout methods and wallets (like Apple Pay) will shape the next wave of ecommerce frontier - seamless and accelerated checkout experience.
8. Email marketing still delivers a strong return on investment
Email marketing remains one of the top converting marketing channel. Many customers spend their time across multiple channels each day, deciding on which traffic source to spend your efforts and budget on can be challenging. However, there is a safe, and profitable bet - email marketing is poised to remain relevant for 2021 and beyond.
According to DMA - direct marketing association - for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect a return of $42. This should be the biggest incentive for businesses to invest more in email marketing. Email marketing is by far one of the most consistent and profitable form of marketing there is.
As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago but the second best time is now, so is the case with email marketing. If your business hasn’t taken a full advantage of the power of email marketing, 2021 and beyond will be your second best shot.
9. eCommerce continues to rise
With the coronavirus impact came the economic uncertainty that led may to cut back on expenses and spending less on experiences while stocking up on essentials.
Even while there have been some obvious winners since the start of the pandemic, the impact on consumer spending habits has been far from predictable. Depending on your industry and audience, your response will have to change to adapt to the ever-evolving consumer trends. However, amid all the uncertainties, one thing is clear: online shopping is here to stay irrespective of the industry you’re in.
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