So how is consumer behaviour changing and why is this important to business planning and growth? From the reports we are receiving businesses are experiencing spells of high demand for their services, which are often followed by quiet spells.  There is a level of uncertainty and businesses are seeking credible answers that are not just based on a whim

Here is a brief summary of some of the questions we are getting:

  • It is reported that we can expect to see changes to consumer behaviour as a result of COVID-19, I have my own experience with this, but I want to make sure I am on the right track, what are the independent statistics revealing?
  • How can I update my business and my brand so that I can reflect what the consumers are now looking for?
  • What do I need to update or change in order to retain my position as the trusted professional to whom my clients will continue to turn to when making decisions?

What are the other voices they are listening to?

  • How can I get my staff to step up their game and ensure they are engaging successfully with my clients?
  • What new treatments or services can I introduce to continue to grow my business?
  • What service areas are the growth opportunities that are statistically supported that I need to introduce?
  • How is the demand for services changing?

I am pleased to say that ALL these questions were answered through the various lectures we presented at the Online Aesthetics Conference.

THE SEVEN KEY CONSUMER TRENDS

In brief, here are the seven key consumer trends. These areas are based on reliable intelligence, extracted from research data that costs millions of dollars.  These studies were compiled by some of the world’s leading research companies intended for large corporations who are developing skincare for the global markets and who are seeking detailed and accurate consumer behaviour analysis on which to base the product development.

Despite the economic disruption that the pandemic has brought to our private and business lives, there are still some incredible opportunities for businesses to survive and become even stronger. But as they say, opportunity thrives on preparation, so here are some sound and credible information to help base your decisions on accurate validated data that is solid and sustainable to help you remain strategically agile:

  1. Safety

The risk of infection has created a great deal of fear in consumers. Studies are showing that while many consumers have returned to their salons and clinics in a rush, over 30% of clients are still not returning because of safety uncertainties. Fear is contagious and it will also affect the marketplace. 

How can you respond?

By providing your clients with clear evidence that you have in place and fully comply with strict infection control standards. This is something that you will need to continually articulate to them, not just at the re-opening of your business, but consistently and indefinitely, ensuring them that they are safe in your care. 

2. The new interpretation of wellness

Wellbeing is no longer about simply wanting to look after oneself in broad terms, nor is it about the extremes of a total lifestyle change or commitment to an intense regime. Instead, a holistic approach is becoming a key motivator of consumer behaviour, underpinned by convenience, transparency, and value.

People are becoming more familiar with, and questioning, products and ingredients that promise previously niche or, unheard of solutions. At the same time, there is a growing demand for products that enhance life rather than simply make superficial changes. We are seeing the roles of mindfulness and conscious movement become more prevalent in busy lifestyles, and barriers to talking about and understanding emotional and mental wellbeing are being torn down.

There are opportunities for brands to become wellbeing partners with their customers. While the mass-market and ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will still have value, we will see the emergence of bespoke solutions that aim to fit the many disparate needs of consumers. As lifestyles become more fluid and non-linear, we will see solutions targeted at different life stages instead of those that reframe or address specific wellbeing needs based solely on age.

A holistic approach is becoming a key motivator of consumer behaviour underpinned by convenience, transparency and value.

Consumers are seeking holistic solutions that move away from instant results. Looking good is important to many consumers, but considerations of longer-term physical, mental, and emotional health benefits are growing. Greater awareness of environmental factors is creating demand for products that pre-emptively guard against these concerns. As stress becomes more and more recognised as a key health concern, the emphasis is on brands and organisations to provide solutions that can help consumers deal and better manage their stress.

I believe there is an interesting point that we can take note here. After the lockdown, many consumers are coming to terms with their own mortality. 

The research findings concluded that there is a growing demand for products that enhance life rather than simply make superficial changes – this is the real key here.

How can you respond to this?

Introduce wellness modalities that can lower stress levels, improving sleep, enhance immunity, support emotional wellbeing, lower cortisol levels, minimise pain and supporting mental health.  As more and more people suffer from anxiety and depression the stigma of mental health will disappear and consumers will see to gain as much personal benefit from your services that go beyond just their appearance.

Consider nutrition that supports gut health. Introduce tactile services such as massage for face and body, as well as lymphatic drainage – all these services are coming back in a big way.  Incorporate these services in your client programs and consider working collaboratively with a healthcare professional.

3. Environmentally conscious

There is now a large body of research that is identifying the growing number of consumers who are strongly environmentally-conscious. To demonstrate this trend an interesting study was published in the Journal of Marketing Management entitled: The environmental value‐attitude‐system model: A framework to guide the understanding of environmentally‐conscious consumer behaviour.

The study identified value‐attitude‐system model of Vinson et al. applied and extended to provide an insight into the complex phenomena affecting environmentally‐conscious purchase behaviour by integrating the underlying influences from the individual belief system.

Variables that predict “green buying” (i.e., buying products that are environmentally beneficial) were investigated. Predictor variables included awareness about the environmental impacts of products, specific environmental beliefs of consumers. Here is the link if you wish to review the whole article https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0267257X.1994.9964307

How can you respond to this?

As environmentally-conscious consumer behaviour is going to play a huge role in how they choose their products, speak to your product distributor and ask them how they are making provision for this trend?  What changes are they making to their product packaging to minimise waste? There are now whole conference programs dedicated to changes in product packaging. Excessive layers of product packaging are becoming a think of the past, with a strong focus of recyclable materials.  

4. Small Spaces

Due to the lockdown, many consumers are now working from home. Particularly if their industry allows it.  Many corporations are working remotely with their staff.  We will see large building no longer needed with a downsizing of large working premises.  Recent reports identifying small space trend have confirmed that this trend will impact residential, as well as commercial changes. These changes will be influenced by economic, social and environmental drivers.

According to Navigant Research, energy-efficient housing solutions are becoming widely available for people of all ages, incomes, and lifestyle preferences. The explosion of the energy-efficient prefab market, which is characterised by smaller overall spaces, is an indication that Australians will compromise space for efficiency.

A popular Millennial-focused website www.microlifestyles.com found that one of the major draws to micro-housing is, as the adage goes, location, location, location. Especially for millennials on a budget, the proximity to a city’s cultural hubs makes the sacrifice of space worthwhile.

The negative effects our consumption of natural resources such as fossil fuels and water has upon the environment continues to be a popular conversation. Many consumers and manufactures alike have made a committed choice to minimise their environmental footprint. Small space living has the potential to assist with these efforts.

Commercially, we are also seeing consumer preference to shopping experiences from the boutique-style environment over the larger Department Stores. Consumers are seeking the opportunity to interact more with the people they are buying from.

How can you respond to this?

This is good news for our industry however, the key focus is the issue of “interaction”. Plan to make time to interact with your clients, build relationships and engage with them through meaningful discussion on questions or matters that are important to them. Develop policies that enhance and support engagement and compassionate interaction.

5. The trend for New Products

During the lockdown, many consumers engaged with social media and experimented with new products.  This was reported throughout several studies that concluded that consumers are keen to experience something new and fresh after the lockdown.  They are seeking new experiences, with a great product focus on the values that are important to them, such as:

  • Safety
  • Support wellness
  • Environmentally responsible
  • Green and clean beauty
  • Support the local economy

How can you respond to this?

Consider introducing a niche new range that ticks all the boxes, and if you can also add “Australian-made” that is also a positive element.

6.  The issue of Values

Consumers are seeking services that align with their values. Where do you stand ethically and morally in making the world a better place?

Are you just interested in your own financial figures, or are you committed to servicing their needs in the most responsible and ethical manner, while also supporting and introducing environmentally-responsible choices?

Another interesting new trend fuelled by the recent Black Lives Matter movement is the ‘Cancel culture’ or ‘call-out-culture’, which is currently on the rise. Upset about the lack of data privacy and security, government accountability, and trust in brands, consumers are lashing out. No company, brand, or person is safe in today’s social-media-driven world. However, consumers want companies and brands to stand for something. Expect to see a rise in consumer backlash over the next 10 years as consumers continue to find their voice in the digital era. On the other hand, the good news is that we will also see a pushback against this backlash emerging by 2030, as consumers tire of the seemingly endless cycle of reactive discourse.

Black Lives Matter is now influencing the choice of product names such as whitening creams. L’Oréal for one is removing the word “whitening cream” to appeal to a broader market. What is your position and do you need to be swept into this trend?  It could be argued that “whitening products” are not about converting a black skin to white skin, but for the purpose of fading pigmentation and skin discolouration due to hormonal changes and you would be tight in holding that position.

How can you respond to this?

Whatever your thoughts the issue here is that businesses must be seen to have a philosophy and hold a position that supports social justice.

7. Technology that brings change

Social distancing has necessitated the use of technology in order that we connect.  Consumers are becoming a lot more comfortable with social media interaction, purchasing over the internet.  We will see zoom consultations continuing to grow, not diminish.  Understanding and having effective social media platforms supporting by a solid marketing strategy allowing you to continue to communicate remotely will be critical to your business growth.

Having just staged our first online aesthetic conference (due to the social distancing restrictions) the feedback has been extremely positive for this model becoming widely accepted as a preferred conference mode.  The reasons given were that it offered viewing flexibility, providing business owner and their staff the opportunity to view the event in their own time, within the convenience of their own home, the ability to go back and revisit a segment to gain more detailed information, as well as the lack of travel and accommodation costs. 

How can you respond to this?

If you are a business, it is imperative that you invest and refine your social media presence, your website, your online store, as well as continue to provide video consultations to support your clients who will continue to favour this mode of communication.  This will not be a passing trend it is here to stay.

Meanwhile, the studies also showed that as more people work and socialise from distant locations seeking to create the same fluidity in their digital identity, they will experience another growing phenomenon – loneliness. While communication technologies will become more sophisticated, they will push people further apart and this will also have an impact on loneliness, which will reach epidemic proportions by 2030. Expect to see companies, brands, social organisations, and governments create technology-based solutions to help combat loneliness and fight the epidemic.

These seven consumer behaviour drivers are backed by robust market data, that include economic, demographic, technological, political and sociological data sets to analysis the impact that internal and external environmental changes is having and will continue to have on consumer motivation and choices over the next decade.  These are sound metrics you should consider when planning your current and future direction.