Have we hit the post-pandemic checkpoint? Online traffic is stabilizing and the global eCommerce growth rate is expected to slow to 12.2% – a dip compared to 16.3% in 2021. Marketers are still operating in unknown eCommerce and retail territory with the latest challenges: inflation and its impact on consumer behavior, the re-emergence of brick and mortar stores, and the effect of current world affairs. These offer both risks and opportunities for brands.
But the acceleration of businesses having to adapt and innovate their marketing strategies continues to intensify its momentum. It’s got the marketing industry occupied with two major questions:
Here are eight post-pandemic trends that marketers need to have on their radar.
The most important parameter right now is inflation. The European Statistics Office (Eurostat) stated that prices in the eurozone had risen by 7.5 percent YoY – a record high. Yet, consumer wages are unlikely to keep up with this pace, driving the rise of the “cost of living” and putting a strain on consumer spending.
This means that many households may cut back on “nice-to-haves” to preserve their budgets, while also trying to assess the actual value of their purchases. Marketers must demonstrate the added value of their offerings and align with their customer’s changing priorities.
Resorting to price discounts to retain customers or attract new ones can help navigate through these difficult times, but brands need a long-term solution that’s sustainable. Marketing strategies must consequently become even more tailored using first-party data smartly to create a truly personalized customer experience, adding more value to their interaction with your brand in their purchase journey.
Challenges in supply chains, a lack of resources, and limited staff will remain, as customer demand grows. As the customer experience is at stake, companies are trying to move production closer to consumers to combat delivery and supply issues. It helps them maintain control, reduce costs and safeguard the customer experience.
While brands try to cut through the noise in crowded markets with discounts, next-day delivery, etc., they now need to be selective with these offers to better manage demand with limited inventory and resources. This is not only a challenge in logistics or planning but in marketing too.
When the market changes, so does your sales model. At the same time, there’s no clear indication of whether a higher proportion of sales are through direct-to-consumer channels or wholesale. Evolving your strategy toward direct-to-consumer with higher margins may not be the best move, as there’s no “one size fits all” solution for every company.
The balance between direct-to-consumer and wholesale is changing into a “double scale”, as consumers’ changing shopping habits cause an imbalance between the different channels. Brands are trying to find a middle ground as some focus more on one channel, others reduce their channel investment, or they simply add it on top of their channels to expand their marketing mix. This is further evidence of a “hybrid” way of working. Companies that allow openness and flexibility for new sales approaches have a clear advantage here, as it pays to test different models.
Personalization through 3rd party tracking is a thing of the past. According to a recent survey, only 28% of companies have a strategy after the end of third-party cookies – so it’s essential for the other two-thirds to adopt a plan.
Zero-party data and first-party data are vital to personalizing experiences in a compliant and secure way. Brands need to look for new and innovative ways to interact with customers and provide creative incentives for data sharing. Content and media consumption has become an essential part of the customer journey as they look for entertainment from brands. The tools of the moment for data capturing here are simple gamification or a good old quiz!
This is different from an experience where the sales motivation is clear, as it’s an opportunity for marketers to get to know their customers better. But marketers should keep in mind that customers are also becoming more privacy-conscious.
Consumers demand transparency about how their data is collected and processed, so it’s important to address privacy concerns and guarantee digital security. For this reason, third-party data are disappearing, and Google is moving to a cookie-free model with GA4. (Have a read about GA4 and why an alternative might be a smart move for your business.)
Faced with delivery difficulties and supply bottlenecks, more consumers were switching to shopping more consciously and, above all, locally. According to a Shopify study, 47% of consumers surveyed said that a local presence was an essential factor in which brands they shopped with. More consumers are also motivated to buy from brands that appeal to them based on location, company values, or sustainability.
At the height of the pandemic, consumers were happy enough to receive their purchases despite bumps in their customer journey. But now, brands have had time to adapt to the changed circumstances – the grace period is over!
They now expect companies to be present and responsive at the various touchpoints. Originally it was salespeople; now, it’s brand ambassadors and communicators who drive sales online, in-store, or in new virtual worlds. They’re directly involved in creating micro-interactions and conversational commerce opportunities, such as live chats, messaging services, and more that extend the sales experience in interesting, engaging ways.
With supply chain issues and limited resources still a barrier, customers are exploring their omnichannel options through online and offline channels. This puts pressure on brands to be omnipresent, as employees are expected to be personally responsive to customers and present on social media, fulfill online orders/pickups nearby, and provide a personalized experience, e.g., through video shopping sessions.
Brands need to invest in tools, resources, and training so that their employees can quickly navigate between channels while improving their product knowledge to upsell, creating a personalized customer experience in real-time.
The trend is already foreseeable in China and the USA: Livestreaming shopping is becoming increasingly important. According to Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, 70% of European customers are open to live shopping. And like marketplaces, a ready-curated audience exists here.
Marketers should be aware that while live-streaming gives consumers entertainment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that participants will purchase from them. Instead, consumers are curious about products and channels, essentially exploring their options. The clear benefit here is brand awareness. But to turn interest into purchases, the key is to follow up the event with a cross-channel communication strategy and activate first-party data to deliver relevant messages based on the user’s interests.
According to Gartner, 25% of consumers will use the Metaverse one hour per day by 2026. Accenture’s recent survey also saw that 79% of respondents are interested in using the Metaverse for shopping to buy. The potential of virtual worlds is indeed huge, as it creates new product opportunities, sales capacities, and channels.
Virtual showrooms, for example, are a solution for customers who want to view, try and test products. They offer a pleasant experience and gives customers a sense of control over how they approach their purchase decision digitally. Given these benefits, retailers will look to expand their digital presence in virtual worlds.
As the metaverse becomes a dedicated sales channel, launching a product in the new digital world, and gathering feedback on the experience is critical to building the “digital asset.” Future collaboration with influencers can help increase presence in this evolving omnichannel world amongst consumers.
Marketing knows only one direction: even more digital, virtual, and faster. And with the right MarTech on hand, you can leverage these tools and the experts behind them to stay on top of trends and create impact customer experiences to build customer loyalty and advocacy.
And if you’re looking for even more insight from experts, we collaborated with our partners Alpenite, Space48, and T-Systems on our “Retail of the Future” eGuide. You’ll get all the trends, predictions, and strategies you need to prepare for the future.