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Consumer behaviour has constantly been in flux, but never more so than today. It turns out the pandemic encouraged us to do more than just binge-watch Netflix and consider learning to crochet. Covid shifted our behaviour as consumers – and it continues to do so. Lockdown may have forced people to re-evaluate how they spend their time, but now we’re back into the swing of life without restrictions, we’re re-evaluating how we spend our money. This is compounded now by the cost of living crisis, inflation, and looming recession.

And with all of that in mind, brands need to understand how their consumers’ behaviour is shifting, and be ready to act nimbly to those changes.

Here’s some of what we’re increasingly seeing in the market:
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1.Brand values are invaluable

Increasingly consumers are being led by their values and emotions when making purchasing decisions. Emotions and self-identity now play a huge role in consumer decision-making, with more and more people choosing what they buy based on brand values. In fact, a study from IBM has revealed that purpose-driven buyers (those “who choose products and brands based on how well they align to their values”) now represent the majority (44%) of consumers.

In line with the growing demand for sustainability and inclusivity, some of the most sought-after values are trust and authenticity. Fed up with green-washing and token diversity, consumers want to be able to trust that a brand is actually doing the right thing. That’s why 88% of consumers said they look for authenticity when deciding which brands to support. Brands who successfully embrace transparency are set to reap the rewards as nearly 1 in 2 shoppers said would pay more for a brand they trust.
2.Diversity must be deep-rooted

Gen Z aren’t some far-off consumers that you can consider a few years down the line, they’re already here. They’re the most diverse generation yet, they’re making themselves heard, and they demand they recognise themselves in a brand before supporting it. And their impact is being felt now across all generations.

Almost 70% of black consumers said they’re more likely to purchase from a brand whose advertising positively reflects their race or ethnicity. And over 70% of consumers that identify as LGBTQ+ trust brands with advertising that represents a variety of sexual orientations more than those who don’t.

A group that has come of age on the internet, Gen Z have had to learn to spot fake news and false promises with their eyes shut – so brands claims need to be authentic. Token diversity and shaky credentials are called out. To be authentic, brands must embrace diversity for more than just optics, weaving diversity considerations throughout their entire operation.
3.Eco credentials are essential

Whilst there have been whispers about brand sustainability for years, these mutterings are finally culminating into a battlecry. Emboldened by the likes of damning IPCC reports, Greta Thunberg’s appearance at Glasto, and the Seaspiracy documentary, consumers will no longer accept brands that continue to blindly damage the planet for profit. From unethical supply chains to wasteful packaging – consumers’ greater awareness of how brands operate is driving the demand for change at every stage of the business.

And they’re putting their money where their mouth is – consumers are now choosing brands based on their commitment to sustainability. A study by PWC found that almost 50% of consumers factor in sustainability when choosing how they shop. 51% now consider if items have a traceable and transparent origin before purchasing. And 53% consider whether a company is committed to doing the right thing.

Sustainable brands are no longer a specialist sector, nor is sustainability something that any brand can choose to ignore. And for a sustainable brand to thrive in today’s market they must be transparent in how they are addressing the environmental impact of their business and working to support our planet. Not only is this essential for immediate market survival, but it will help ensure brands reach new audiences and drive loyalty for years to come.

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