Opinion

Consumer trends for 2012

A number of different consumer trends for 2012 have been identified by Carol Flanagan, Business Strategy Director with Red c Research, who spoke about Consumer Trends for 2012 and beyond at the recent SFA Conference.

She identified six consumer trends:

1. Frugality – ‘thrifting’, where consumers were less inclined to buy brands and less likely to go out. They sought ‘deals’ and for them, bargain-hunting has become a way of life. They waste less and reappraise how much fresh fruit and vegetables they buy, for example, or reappraise their mobile phone package. Rashness is being replaced by caution here.

2. Simplicity – consumers have been overwhelmed by the breadth of choice of late. Consumers will continue to seek uncomplicated products and services that simplify their lives.

3. Transparency – consumers resent being fooled. They want to buy Irish, for example, but also have enough nous to check the labelling too now. Consumers are reappraising what they’re getting. The growing need for openess and transparency for providers of products and services is absolutely necessary.

4. Community focus – there’s a growing desire to shop local and this will continue post-recovery.

5. Service with a smile – it’s essential to be able to offer people a human voice. Consumers have developed an appreciation of good customer service and this is likely to be a decision-maker post recession.

6. Digital independence
– one in every four minutes spent online is spent on social media. Businesses should therefore ask themselves whether their website is easy to negotiate? The best example lets the consumer know on the home page something like ‘four clicks and you’re done’, for example. Some 50 per cent of consumers now have a smartphone.

The use of the internet for commerce – particularly through smartphones – shows a strong upward curve, she concluded.

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