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  • Writer's pictureRebeka Pop

7 Consumer Trends for 2024

7 Consumer Trends for 2024 Cover by Enaks

In the heart of 2024, the world is witnessing a seismic shift in consumer behavior, fueled by a complex interplay of societal, technological, and environmental factors. Today, consumers are no longer passive onlookers but active agents, shaping the landscape with their preferences, beliefs, and expectations.

As the year unfolds, businesses must stay attuned to a backdrop of growing polarization, technological leaps, and an urgent call for environmental responsibility. From the rising influence of generative AI to the evolving relationship between brands and political stances, every nuance signifies a trend that businesses must strategically integrate into their operations to stay ahead of the game.

Join us on an exciting journey into the heart of 2024's consumer trends, where choices become statements and brand interactions create opportunities to build trust and connection. We'll unravel the threads of emerging patterns, shedding light on the strategies that will define success in a landscape where consumer expectations are more discerning, values-driven, and influential than ever before.

1. AI: A Powerful Solution for Many, But Not Everything

Generative AI has taken the world by storm, with ChatGPT amassing 100 million users in just two months. Its user-friendly nature means that even those without extensive technical expertise can utilize it for a variety of tasks, from creative writing to travel planning. The emerging trend known as Ask AI highlights the ever-evolving expectations of consumers and the need for continual experimentation. The incorporation of applications like chatbots and voice assistants can take user experience to the next level, making it more seamless and enjoyable. As a result, consumers now expect brands to embrace generative AI solutions and integrate them seamlessly into their offerings.

AI for Enhanced Customer Experience

In the near future, technology will play an even larger role in our daily lives. Over two-thirds of consumers are expected to use technology to improve their daily routines, which emphasizes the growing need for innovative solutions. Brands that embrace the AI trend can gain a competitive advantage in the market. It can have a tremendous impact on both customer engagement and internal operations.

Generative AI solutions are the key to innovation in today's world. By streamlining market strategies, businesses can generate content and ideas rapidly, providing faster delivery. This technology allows companies to synthesize user data to develop informed products, which can be tailored to large-scale marketing campaigns, merchandise, and services based on customer feedback.

According to Euromonitor International, 42% of consumers are comfortable with voice assistants providing personalized product information and suggested products. However, only 17% are comfortable using a bot to address complex customer service questions. Generative AI solutions can significantly improve customer experience across the entire customer journey. For example, Salsify’s research showed that 24% of surveyed customers expressed their interest in trying a virtual shopping assistant, while 23% would like to receive personalized brand or product recommendations. Therefore, it is evident that businesses should leverage generative AI solutions to enhance customer experiences and stay ahead in the market.

So it’s not surprising, that over the next five years, more than half of professionals are planning to invest in generative AI. 

Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Digital Survey, fielded August/September 2023Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Digital Survey, fielded August/September 2023 Illustration done by Enaks

Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Digital Survey, fielded August/September 2023

This technology has the potential to transform the way businesses enhance customer experiences. By leveraging customer data, businesses can provide more intelligent shopping suggestions and create targeted marketing campaigns. Additionally, advancements in creating virtual chatbots capable of mimicking human interactions and optimizing product page images and copy are expected. With integrations into travel planning or shopping experiences, generative AI can bring transformative enhancements to various facets such as search functionality, product discovery, and personalization. The possibilities are endless with smarter virtual assistants that can provide tailored responses and streamline the shopping experience.

The Human Touch in an AI Era

As AI technology continues to evolve, it is natural for consumers to feel a mix of excitement and apprehension. While AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work, it also raises concerns about the absence of human interaction, quality of interactions, and job security. However, a recent Qualtrics survey shows that nearly half of the consumers are comfortable interacting with an organization's AI. Furthermore, consumers prefer human interaction for complex tasks such as addressing billing issues, technical support, or seeking advice from a doctor. However, for less complex and transactional activities such as checking order statuses or booking online tickets, digital channels are preferred. As companies adopt AI, they need to realize when their customers want to interact with a human and when digital interactions are preferred. By adopting this strategy, companies can ensure that their customers receive the best possible experience and build a strong relationship with them.

As technology rapidly changes our world, it’s critical to strike a balance between embracing innovation and preserving human traditions. Brands that prioritize the development of their workforce, safeguarding their employees, and creating an effective blend of digital and physical experiences will thrive in the future where human creativity and emotional connections are highly valued. According to Mintel’s recent study, 48% of German consumers agree that technology has a positive impact on productivity. However, 47% of UK consumers are concerned about the increasing prominence of AI and having to interact with AI more than humans, such as customer service or emergency response.

To sum up, as technology continues to advance and integrate into everyday life, there will be a growing need for human connection and skills that go beyond efficiency. Brands must focus on building relationships and providing compassionate service to meet this requirement for genuine human interaction in a digitized world.

2. Quality vs. Quantity: Striking the Right Balance

In 2023, rising prices posed significant financial challenges for consumers, causing three out of four people to worry about their everyday expenses. The cost of living remained a top concern for many, forcing them to resort to budgeting and opting for cheaper alternatives. Although inflation has eased up, its lingering effects continue to impact purchasing power, making it important for people to focus on saving money.

As a result, a new breed of savvy consumers has emerged - the "value hackers." These individuals are dedicated to finding high-quality products at lower costs, and they are using creative tactics to optimize their income. From finding cheaper alternatives to taking advantage of credit card rewards, and even embracing private-label brands, value hackers are determined to save money without sacrificing quality. Overall, consumers are adopting smart strategies to survive in the face of financial challenges. 

Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer Survey, fielded January/February 2023 Visualized by Enaks

Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer Survey, fielded January/February 2023

Consumers are making changes to their shopping habits to save on expenses. To keep up with their evolving needs, companies must provide cost-effective and value-added solutions. For example, some consumers are being more careful with their spending by reducing the frequency of their shopping trips or avoiding impulsive purchases altogether. Expanding promotional initiatives should be a strategic priority for businesses, as 53% of professionals believe it to be essential. 

Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Retail Survey, fielded June/July 2023 Visualized by Enaks

Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Retail Survey, fielded June/July 2023

Looking ahead to 2024, maintaining consumer and shopper loyalty will be a challenge as many individuals are switching products and brands. Consumers have made it clear that they expect companies to offer value for money, especially if prices continue to rise. It is important to recognize that the perceived quality of products and services is also evolving alongside these changes.

In today's world, consumers have diverse ideas of quality and are constantly seeking a balance between quality and cost. Brands that focus solely on price management are losing out on the bigger picture. Consumers now consider attributes like sustainability and convenience to be important factors in their purchase decisions. Brands need to present these attributes through a quality lens and demonstrate how they enhance functionality. By doing so, brands can contribute to a perception of value, which is what consumers are looking for.

It's not just about functionality anymore; marketers need to go beyond mere products or services and appeal to consumers' emotions and values. Brands that don't align with their consumers' values are being abandoned. Therefore, it is essential for marketers to focus on creating intimate connections with their consumers by highlighting their heritage, leveraging nostalgia, and emphasizing reliability and trust. By positioning the brand as a stable presence in an uncertain world, marketers can increase the emotional and social value of their brand. After all, 78% of US consumers agree that the quality of a retailer's store brand is a reflection of a retailer's overall quality. So, it's high time for brands to shift their focus from price management to quality and value perception.

To forge a sustainable relationship with consumers, brands must prioritize quality, emotional connections, and personalized products that align with their values and preferences.

Surprisingly, low price points are not the primary driver of consumer purchase decisions in 2024. Instead, organizations that excel in customer experience are more likely to secure a share of the market, even in an economic downturn. According to a Qualtrics study, post-purchase experience, especially customer service support, ranks second only to product quality and surpasses low prices in importance. However, only 38% of CX professionals prioritize training frontline teams and customer service agents, leaving potential revenue on the table.

To avoid leaving any revenue on the table and to establish a strong relationship with consumers, brands must prioritize training their customer service teams, especially during cost-cutting pressures. Neglecting customer service training can lead to lost revenue and damage the brand's reputation. By prioritizing customer service training, brands can establish a strong relationship with consumers, leading to increased revenue and customer loyalty.

3. From Green Fatigue to Genuine Sustainability

Environmental concerns are becoming more urgent than ever, and consumers are seeking genuine commitments from organizations to address the ongoing climate crisis. However, many people are experiencing "green fatigue" due to the persistence of extreme weather events, which has fueled skepticism and a lack of trust in individual efforts. In response, consumers are demanding concrete actions from businesses to reduce emissions and address their carbon footprint. Transparency is key in this effort, and companies must be willing to measure and disclose their direct and indirect emissions across all value chains. Consumers are overwhelmed by environmental challenges, and hence, shifting from reducing carbon footprints to active regeneration is the way forward. 

However, mistrust in brands' initiatives necessitates transparent communication and measurable impact demonstration. Taking no action is not an option, and consumers understand that very well. Unfortunately, many companies are just pretending to be sustainable, as cited by 60% of US consumers. Similarly, 52% of German consumers say they don’t trust companies to be honest about their environmental impact. To integrate greener and more ethical practices, brands should focus on eco-friendly packaging, fair labor practices, and ethical sourcing, as these initiatives resonate most with shoppers. When executed properly, these practices can yield lasting impacts, such as reduced waste, improved livelihoods, and responsible consumption. 

By investing in long-term energy efficiency, businesses can cut costs and ensure compliance with immediate financial benefits. Affordability is still a challenge, but manufacturers must work to democratize sustainable options and make them more accessible to all consumers. In fact, research shows that 45% of professionals plan to invest in certifications to avoid greenwashing in the next five years. According to a report by Harvard Business School, sustainable products experience an average sales growth 5.6 times higher than non-sustainable counterparts. Therefore, embracing sustainability is not only the right thing to do but also makes good business sense.

4. Smart Self-Care

As consumers, we all want to look and feel our best, but nowadays, we are shifting towards a more practical approach to self-care. Instead of complicated and time-consuming routines, we seek quick and accessible solutions that align with our busy lifestyles. We seek effective remedies that can deliver visible improvements over time, without making significant investments. That's why proven efficacy is important when it comes to beauty and wellness products. 85% of consumers would be willing to pay more for beauty products with proven efficacy or benefits. As a result, brands need to keep up with the latest advances in science and technology to develop innovative products that meet consumers' needs. Consumers are actively seeking innovative solutions to prevent or address the following concerns.

Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, fielded January/February 2023 Visualized by Enaks

Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, fielded January/February 2023

Therefore, it's important for brands to substantiate their claims with before-and-after evidence, testimonials, or studies. By doing so, they can build trust and loyalty among consumers who seek precision and efficacy in their self-care routines.

5. Social Media Influencers are Still a Thing

Social media has become a thriving marketplace where brands can engage with their audience. Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube have become key platforms for businesses to connect with consumers. Influencers, who are perceived as trusted peers, can significantly boost a brand's product recommendations. Capitalizing on hot or trending items, especially those endorsed by influencers, can drive substantial growth. Going viral means providing evidence that your product actually works, enticing shoppers to try it for themselves. 

Did you know that about 34% of shoppers recently purchased a product from a social media platform? And, 21% of shoppers recently bought a product because a social media influencer recommended it. Additionally, 17% of shoppers recently bought a product because it was trending on social media. To make social commerce work for you, it's important to understand your target audience. If your product caters to a niche or older demographic, heavy social media promotion might not yield optimal results. Not every user converts on these platforms, but strategic incentives such as exclusive discounts can be enticing for both brands and shoppers, prompting positive responses.

It’s important to understand the driving forces behind each generation's purchasing habits on social media. For Gen Z, it’s all about the influencers, whereas Baby Boomers are drawn to exclusive discounts. Millennials, on the other hand, are influenced by personalized product recommendations. Boomers are shifting their online shopping habits and engaging with video-based apps like Facebook more and more. This often-overlooked demographic actually has significant purchasing power, surpassing even Gen Z in weekly online product buying. 

Despite this, boomers feel underrepresented in ads, making them an untapped market for companies willing to adapt their marketing strategies. One social media platform that many companies overlook is Pinterest. However, with Statista forecasting a growth of 4.9 million Pinterest users between 2024 and 2027, it may be time to reconsider this platform. For instance, for those in the fashion industry, a Pinterest Business account can provide a creative outlet for showcasing clothing lines and offering fashion inspiration to users.

As we continue to see the rise of social media and interconnectivity, there is an alarming trend in the decline of direct feedback. Since 2021, the percentage of customers willing to share their negative experiences has decreased by 7.2%. This means that more than two-thirds of customers are avoiding giving direct feedback. 

Influencers have a significant impact on their followers, and not just in promoting products. They have the power to drive social change and take on important causes, as demonstrated by ZSHOW time and the JÓLVANEZÍGY channels alongside other influencers in Hungary. In February 2024, these social media influencers took the lead in organizing a protest for children's protection in Budapest. The response was overwhelming, with over 50,000 people participating in the event and more than 200 million forint (around half a million euros) raised for charity. It's clear that influencers have the power to make a real difference in the world. As customers, we should take note of their efforts and continue to support them in their mission to promote social responsibility and positive change. 

6. Creating Joyful Connections

Amidst the chaos and turmoil of everyday life, people crave moments of happiness and positivity. Delightful Distractions, the embodiment of joy and optimism, provide an escape from the negativity. Brands that offer unexpected pleasures, entertaining experiences, and delightful products are creating lasting impressions on their customers while enhancing their brand reputation. Studies show that 73% of people who experience stress and anxiety suffer greatly in their daily lives. Meanwhile, 55% of consumers prefer shopping in stores that offer engaging experiences. Furthermore, a significant 29% of people are comfortable with brands tracking their emotions and personalizing experiences based on their moods. 

To establish strong and lasting relationships with customers, companies must go beyond just providing good products or services. They should implement joyful emotions and experiences at various levels, offering instant gratification to customers. Emotional marketing also plays an important role in aligning products with the cultural desire for optimism and creating positive associations with the brand. Furthermore, interactive brand experiences that provide immersive and entertaining moments cater to consumers' desire for escapism. Sephora, for example, enhances its Beauty Insider loyalty program through gamified tasks, such as BOPIS engagement and text alerts sign-ups, allowing members to earn points for rewards or discounts.

The key is to uplift customers through playful and silly moments while maintaining brand authenticity. Research shows that 43% of professionals said their company used storytelling and compelling messages to communicate new or improved products to consumers, while 33% of professionals said their company is exploring experiential store formats.

As modern consumers seek deeper meaning and purpose in their lives, brands have the unique opportunity to play a role in their spiritual journey. By providing a mental space for relaxation, introspection, and processing emotions, brands can help consumers acknowledge the complexities of their feelings and contribute to conversations that resonate with those seeking a meaningful perspective on life's unfavorable events. This is especially relevant today, with 42% of US consumers focused on improving their spiritual wellness in the next 12 months. One way brands can create memorable experiences and engage with their customers is through experiential retail, using gamification, shoppable videos, and pop-up shops. 

7. Polarization Impact: Brands and Consumer Trust

The growing polarization in society is affecting consumer behaviors, with over one-third predicting an increase in political unrest. As a result, people are starting to favor brands that align with their values, turning their purchases into expressions of support for personal beliefs. While some shoppers prioritize practical considerations over CSR and ESG efforts, others view marketing campaigns on controversial topics skeptically. Successfully navigating these dynamics can enhance brand loyalty, but missteps can damage both reputation and customer trust. In fact, 37% of consumers anticipate more political unrest, 34% share their opinions on social or political issues on social media, and 32% are actively involved in these issues. To navigate these complex issues, brands must take a strategic approach. Unlike in previous years, consumers are now demanding alignment with their values and brand identity. 

Vocal brands must weigh the risks and rewards of addressing controversial issues. It is worth noting that in 2023, a staggering 52% of consumers exclusively purchased from companies or brands they fully trusted. This highlights the importance of brand trust and the need for companies to take a stand on social and political issues in a way that aligns with their values and those of their customers.

Which Consumer Trend Aligns Best with Your Company's Profile?

Simply acknowledging them isn't enough - you need to take action. At enäks, we can help you identify the trends that are essential to your company's success and build an effective marketing strategy around them. Don't miss out on the opportunity to connect with your customers and meet their expectations. Let us help you today!


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