Whilst we are still entering 2022 with some uncertainty and differing expectations, one thing we can be sure of is that the past two years has cemented a significant and irreversible step-change in the way we live, work and shop.
The shift from high street to online, acceleration of direct to consumer and ambition of making real organisational change after a series of false starts means that many businesses need to react now ‚ or face getting left behind.
Here are five trends to watch this year:
With fewer physical experiences and high street communities becoming less mainstream, modern customers have come to demand a more engaging experience online than ever before.
This year, delivering a truly seamless customer experience will be what brands seek to get ahead of the competition. Right now, getting the basics of CX is a priority for many and should be the starting point for those with disjointed or under-performing online experiences. Another key focus will be on overall service fulfilment, and how experiences can be designed better for customers from an operational service perspective, not the business.
Increased personalisation, smarter and more targeted engagements and new immersive tech will all be part of the mix as brands seek out new ways of reaching and engaging with their customers. And with a greater emphasis on retention, traditional CRM strategies will help protect, nurture and reward brand loyalists.
To keep up with constant change, larger organisations will be forced to reinvent their vision and culture in order to drive real transformation.
Skills shortages, staff retention issues and the permanent shift to hybrid working models mean that organisations of all sizes will place employee wellbeing at the heart of their strategy as they look to navigate the new normal in working life ‚ readjusting their vision of employee culture and ensuring that staff remain engaged collaborators.
Businesses will lean on their agency partners in more ways than ever before ‚ they will become organisational transformation partners and future thinkers, down to landlords ‚ as clients use their offices for collaborative working spaces.
Our lives may have stepped up a gear since the lockdowns of the past two years but our need for a slower pace of life hasn't and that is being manifested in the products we choose to buy and brands we choose to buy from.
Consumers are increasingly turning their back on fast and cheap products, with damaging manufacturing processes, opting instead for high-quality purchases that stand the test of time and are rooted in ethical and green values.
Customers will continue to demand more transparency from who they buy from ‚ whether they are small independents or big established brands. From sustainability accreditations such as B-Corp to the diversity of its workforce; brands' ethics and values will increasingly come under the spotlight as part of the purchasing decision.
And with the conversation around climate change only getting louder, businesses will need to spend time looking within to ensure that they meet the scrutiny of consumers that are becoming savvy to greenwashing and misleading eco-claims. Purpose-led organisations will steal the march on more traditional types that lose touch with the green sustainability and an inclusive agenda of our day.
Accessibility isn't anything new, but for years has been viewed as an afterthought by many organisations when it should be seen as more of a continuous commitment.
However, we're now seeing accessibility become something that should be shifted left and at the forefront of what we research, consider, test against and ultimately care passionately about.
Recent research from last year's The WebAIM Million revealed that from the top 1,000,000 websites checked 97.4% had Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2) failures on their homepages alone, and up to 67% of accessibility issues can be avoided when they're considered in the design process.
Improving a product's accessibility can also have a positive impact on other key areas, such as SEO and overall site content readability. For example, considering descriptive alternative text not only makes your imagery more accessible to those with visual impairments but can also boost your SEO ranking. We expect to see many more organisations commit to making their products accessible this year.
It's not just the way that consumers engage with brands that have changed ‚ the pandemic has accelerated the growth of D2C by more than 10 years marking a significant shift in the traditional selling model.
Many traditional businesses switched to D2C to survive during Covid, and in 2022 and beyond, established brands will increasingly move to take on a hybrid D2C model to reach new customers in more authentic ways.
New D2C brands may turn to more traditional routes to market to extend their appeal. This blurring of the lines approach will become more mainstream this year as new ecommerce start-ups look to extend their reach in more traditional retail settings and established brands look to benefit from a more direct approach. Venture capital-backed businesses will also look to go to market faster than ever, and build with ‚change' baked in.
. . .