4 Key Trends from the Future of Consumer Markets report

The COVID-19 pandemic has been raging for nearly a year and continues to make life difficult for businesses in a number of sectors. Many nations are facing multiple waves of infection, new lockdowns, and slow vaccine distribution, which has resulted in changes in the way we work, live, and shop. In the long run, consumer-facing companies are likely to suffer the most, since they are on the front lines of the upheaval.

We are now approaching the future of consumer markets as a result of consumers’ adoption of these and other behaviors. To capitalise on opportunities, PwC identified five trends that will shape tomorrow. They also developed a plan to overcome uncertainty and challenges.

You’ll find them in a complete report or in our article below.

#1 The store of the future

It is anticipated that the digital and physical worlds will merge in the future to create omnichannel experiences. Stores as we know them will continue to evolve. It is expected that a continuous migration towards digital commerce and the influence of contemporary retailing giants, such as Amazon in the United States and Alibaba in China, will continue to drive innovation in both the physical and digital retail space. Even progress made by companies in other sectors, such as Uber’s pioneering ease of payment model, is having a significant impact on the customer experience in the store because it instills in customers an expectation of digital solutions for their consumption in all areas. Customers need to be able to find you wherever they are, whether that is on a website, on a smartphone, via a social map, in a brick-and-mortar store, on Instagram or TikTok, via a user-friendly contact center software, or via third-party partners like subscription boxes for products and delivery services, or even via affiliate marketers. Those companies that are unable to reimagine their in-store products and services in the digital realm will suffer severely. As the pace of change accelerates, the distinction between retailers and manufacturers becomes increasingly blurred, while D2C paths become more crowded. The value chain in the consumer market is becoming increasingly interconnected, with many players vying for the attention of the consumer. 

#2 Brand relevance

Consumers are increasingly turning to socially conscious brands that they trust and align with their values. Consumers continue to raise their expectations and reset their expectations of the brands they choose to associate themselves with. The consumer is seeking companies that display their social conscience in practical, tangible ways, and they are searching for brands that mirror their values and beliefs. As a result of the pandemic, consumers have a wide range of concerns. People’s purchasing decisions are suddenly influenced by matters such as paying suppliers on time, honoring their pension obligations, and allowing employees COVID-related sick leave. 

It is anticipated that consumer awareness of social issues will continue to grow, providing an opportunity for you to strengthen or clarify your brand positioning. Consumers and employees alike appreciate companies that place people over profits and demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility. This trend is tracked by Edelman in its annual global survey on brand trust, in which 71% of respondents cited that if they perceive a brand to be putting profits over people, they will no longer trust this brand in the future. 

Research conducted by PwC US reveals that 70% of consumers surveyed attribute the most importance to trust when making purchases with a brand. Increasingly, brand trust is considered as important as other important purchase factors such as quality, value, and convenience.

#3 The Digital Supply Chain

Future supply chains will operate autonomously, using ‘smart’ decisions to  self-regulate. It is increasingly difficult to predict and shape consumer demand as consumer behavior and expectations change, and trends such as omnichannel shopping and multiple fulfillment points are making it harder for supply chains to keep up. Additionally, pandemics, extreme weather conditions, labor shortages, and the rise of economic nationalism, as seen with Brexit and growing trade tensions with China, affect supply chains. Despite the end of the pandemic and related crises, supply chains will continue to face complex challenges. 

The number one necessity for effective supply chain management will be end-to-end visibility in the face of this uncertain environment. It is imperative that you understand where and how inventory is located, how inventory is being moved, and how customer demand is being met. Furthermore, you will need to ensure that your supply chain is both flexible and responsive. A high-functioning digital supply chain will be enabled by artificial intelligence and other analytical tools. 

Continuing to tie all relevant internal functions together – including merchandising and category management, store operations, finance, and tax – the digital supply chain will also bring together all relevant supply chain partners, including suppliers, logistics service providers, customers, and  innovation partners. A self-directed ecosystem will result from this connectivity, which can operate autonomously and make intelligent decisions about procurement, production, warehousing, and logistics.

#4 The Future Of Food

There will be an increase in consumer demand for healthier products, along with the expectation of greater transparency and sustainability in the food value chain. Food will be affected by many of the trends shaping the future of consumer markets in general. It is worth noting that consumers have been making healthier and more sustainable choices for wellness and food products even before the pandemic, restricting certain foods and taking supplements. Research from PwC’s March 2021 consumer research reveals that half of global respondents are trying to eat more sustainably by including more plant-based foods in their diets. They anticipate that this trend will accelerate and intensify.

Over to you 

There were large-scale disruptions in the consumer market industry well before the pandemic of COVID-19. A number of macro trends had already begun to take hold, but the pandemic  served as an inflection point. In addition to intensifying and accelerating these trends, it put a halt on others, such as experiential retail and globalization. Although they may present lingering uncertainties and aftershocks, such pivotal events can serve as opportunities for clarification. Although the sands keep shifting, now is the time to move forward with bold, decisive actions.