We all hope that a COVID-contained world awaits us in 2022. With the pandemic no longer the main driver of change, brands will need to look to connect with the deeper, structural forces shaping values and behaviours. Meanwhile, preparing for multiple futures will become best practice.
Consumers are also preparing to look beyond COVID in 2022 and will become more selective about where they direct their energies. While not everyone is ready (or able) to turn a corner, a mood of re-energised possibility will prevail in 2022, sparking new trends into being – and requiring new and innovative responses from brands. Below, we reveal 2 of the 8 key trends that will shape the year ahead, and what they mean for you.
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1. Mood Makers.
The curation and management of in-the-moment emotions
Consumers are looking to replenish the emotional deficit caused by lockdown life. After nearly two years of “languishing” – a term used in a New York Times op-ed to describe a sense of stagnation, accompanied with a lack of emotion – consumers will look to fill the void with experiences and offerings that promise to stir the emotions and elevate in-the-moment moods.
Wellbeing has been negatively impacted by pandemic life. In 2021, over 4 in 10 (41%) of global consumers told us their mental health had worsened during this time. Managing real-time moods will become a way of rebuilding fragile mental states and improving general wellbeing – creating an opportunity for offerings that carry mood-supportive claims, and that educate consumers about how mood states can be managed through careful attention to ingredients, surroundings, or other stimuli.
How to act: Help consumers rebuild the emotional deficit caused by the pandemic.
For some consumers, mood-supporting features could become as important as it cost, health impact or convenience. Clearly communicate your products’ mood-making attributes and appeal to those looking for post-pandemic emotional nutrition.
2. Digital Proxies
Investment in virtual identities and assets in online spaces.
The line between online and offline is blurring, a shift that was well underway pre-pandemic thanks to the rise and increasing complexity of social media, virtual communication tools and gaming. COVID pushed this trend to new heights, bringing all aspects of life – work, entertainment, shopping and socialising – to digital spaces. Tech companies such as Facebook are betting on the future of the metaverse – a shared online space where physical, augmented and virtual reality converge. Meanwhile, virtual pastimes such as gaming, streaming and cryptocurrency trading are gaining legitimacy, signifying an attitude shift whereby the digital no longer plays second fiddle to the physical.
Humans have always had a tendency to acquire, revealing our style, status and identity through possessions – something psychologists call “the extended self”. In the digital age, consumers are divesting themselves of material possessions, either to de-clutter or to further sustainability efforts. In this context, the virtual economy is thriving. More consumers are buying, trading and flaunting digital assets such as virtual fashion, NFTs and cryptocurrency. The opportunities for brands are myriad; for example, luxury brands making their goods more accessible with digital versions can create loyal brand advocates who may become real-life customers down the line.
How to act: Embrace the metaverse as a channel for engagement.
The metaverse is coming – explore how it can enable you to engage with customers on a deeper, more interactive level. Take steps to understand how existing and selling in virtual worlds can bolster your IRL strategy, help you reach new audiences, and chime with consumers’ desire to forge identities and lives in online spaces.
Let’s talk about what these trends mean for your business. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org