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2022 TRENDS: The Year of Consumers Seeking a Brighter and More Balanced Future

GWI’s annual trends report surveys over 700,000 people across the world to identify six major themes expected to continue in 2022 and beyond

GWI, the leading supplier of audience insights, shares the findings of its latest report, Connecting the Dots 2022. The research focuses on changing consumer attitudes and how their behaviors will shape the year ahead.

The report is compiled through the continuous collection of survey data throughout 2021, by GWI, from 700,000 interviews across 47 countries. It looks at the trends that are defining society and distils them into six themes shaping lives around the world. It provides an understanding of ‘what’ changes are taking place and ’why’ – helping businesses and brands to identify consumer drivers, eliminate misinformation and power strategic decisions.

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The six key themes for 2022 are:

Increased health awareness and action

Consumers are taking more control of their wellbeing. Many people are looking after their health in new ways – from saying no to stress-inducers, to exploring digital health solutions. So much so that over half of UK consumers say they are now more conscious about their mental health following the pandemic – brands and employers need to respond.

PREDICTIONS-SERIES-2022Consumers calling for authenticity

Consumers are sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly on social media. People are fed up with manufactured images online – with one third of UK Gen Zs and millennials saying people should be showing their “real” selves on social media. This endless search for perfection has become a turn-off, so luxury and fashion brands could benefit from ensuring their images are more realistic and inclusive.

Demand for a more inclusive beauty industry

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The beauty world has experienced a dramatic makeover when it comes to its target audiences. Since 2018, beauty and cosmetics has proven to be the fastest-growing interest among male consumers globally – climbing 21% during this timeframe and peaking during lockdowns. While male purchases of personal care products hit an all-time high in early 2020, they have since declined. Interest and purchase figures among people of color in the U.S./UK have also fallen 14% and 13%, respectively, since 2018. Considering that only 16% of UK consumers say beauty standards are changing for the better, there appears to be much work to be done to improve this view. Brands need to tackle existing stigmas, level the playing field through tailor-made products, and craft campaigns that speak to everyone.

Working to fulfil passions and purpose

The pandemic has changed consumers’ approach to work and life. COVID not only changed how we work, but why we work, with purpose and meaning coming to the fore. With one in three UK professionals saying they will be looking for a new opportunity in the next six months, businesses and employers need to shift campaigns and workplace cultures to the idea that people want a better balance, and focus on purpose and meaning. This point is further backed up by 45% of UK job hunters saying they want to do work that makes them happier and 33% saying they want their work to be more meaningful.

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A battle for consumer attention

Media preferences are changing. Among Gen Z, gaming now sits above TV in their list of personal interests. Consumers are shaking up the traditional model and opening the door to conversations on brand’s advertising spend. Brands need to find ways to connect with their specific audience and recognise that may mean shifting what they consider to be the norm.

Crypto driving the rise of alternative personal finance

Once a fringe community of anti-establishment investors, the world of crypto is going mainstream fast. The number of cryptocurrency investors in the UK has increased by 57% since 2018 and 20% of UK consumers also say that while they don’t use cryptocurrency, they are interested in doing so. This is married with a 61% increase in UK consumers feeling more optimistic about their personal finances since Q2 2020 and 45% saying that saving money has become more important to them over the past year. Businesses will need to tap into these changes quickly or risk getting left behind.

Chase Buckle, Head of Global Trends at GWI comments, “The last few years have been tough on everyone. These trends make it clear that after putting their lives on hold through numerous lockdowns, people want more excitement and focus again – be it via a change in job, or seeking more purpose in their work and life. While brands have been talking about getting back to ‘normal’ since the pandemic began, it’s clear that consumers have no intention of that. They want more than just the old ‘normal’.”

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