Kantar has revealed its 2022 Annual Trends which defines how consumers are preparing themselves in the new year. The report takes into account the changes brought-in by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new normal which the people have accepted.
Some of the prominent changes include people shifting from big to small cities, as the WFH model enabled them to return to their native towns, and how brands coped up with this trend to meet their demands. It also includes changes such as social commerce being accepted readily by the masses and Instagram becoming a leader in the segment.
The main trends observed are:
Going small to live big
In earlier times, the big city fuelled dreams and aspirations of the youth and beckoned with the promise to ‘make it big’. The urban-trapped millennials have been looking for breathers in their busy corporate lifestyles, often finding respite in trips along unchartered tracks. The lockdown and the opportunity of working from home has allowed them to consider an alternate to the city humdrum. As companies chose remote working as ‘business as usual’, the service sector employees chose to move ‘back home’ to smaller towns.
What might have started as a prudent decision to save high rent expenses eventually seems to have translated into a more longer-term lifestyle adjustment. There is a conscious effort to recalibrate needs and wants as a majority of them believe that the pandemic helped them be more appreciative of what they already have.
Much of the infrastructural development in India has been metro centric. The current trend offers a unique opportunity to reimagine our cities, our infrastructure, and mobility. Brands, on the other hand need to reinforce supply chains to avoid losing customers due to last mile connectivity gaps.
Seeking assurance in ‘ghar jaisa’ khana
The pandemic has made consumers painfully sensitive about the importance of health and immunity. A more focused approach to individual health requirements, an increasing appreciation of the traditional diets and a growing interest in the functional benefits of our familiar kitchen ingredients are triggering conscious food choices.
Consumers are seeking comfort in familiarity, especially in the times of turbulence. They are more mindful of what they eat and are willing to make an effort to table fresher meals, 72% prefer fresh home-cooked food over packaged alternatives due to the fear of preservatives. If the meals are not from their own kitchen, they would prefer it from someone else’s to be assured of the hygiene and quality of ingredients, thus making home chefs a rage.
A large number of people do not feel safe ordering food online these days. At the same time there is a growing awareness about mindful eating rituals such as slow eating, appreciation of what’s on the plate and a deeper consciousness of the emotional connect with food.
As companies have been on their accelerated journey of digital transformation, the moot question has been whether the Indian workforce is ready for this change. Constant learning has become an imperative for workers to adapt to changing times and stay relevant. Through this volatility, upskilling has become the new insurance cover in the job market, ensuring stability in an unpredictable workplace disrupted by technology.
Proactive self-learning through online courses has become the new norm for working professionals trying to stay employable as-well-as students gearing up to join the work force. *65% of learners upskilled to strengthen career prospects and *33% of learners were senior-level professionals. (Source: Simplilearn’s State of Upskilling in 2021)
As both freshers and experienced employees become more conscious of the skill gap and lean in to bridge it, enrolments into online courses continue to exponentially grow.
Exercising autonomy through gig work
The Indian freelance job market gained rapid acceleration with the pandemic-induced job instability. However, what started as a necessity, is now a carefully considered choice for many. The comfort of flexible work schedules, coupled with an apathy for the corporate workstyle has been holding freelancers from going back to full-time employment.
On the other hand, the Great Resignation of the West is showing signs in India too. 62% of India’s workforce has the intention of switching jobs this year, compared to an average of 41% globally. (Source: Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index)
The nature of freelance work has also evolved and gig working is not limited to factory or support function jobs. 70% of the Indian freelancers on their platform were working in core management functions. (Source: Flexingit Survey, 2021)
With 15 million freelancers, India is already the second largest gig market in the world. In the long term, the Indian gig economy has the potential to service up to 90 million jobs in India’s non-farm economy. (Source: BSG Report; Unlocking the Potential of the Gig Economy in India 2021)
Shrinking personal space with remote work
WFH had started with the promise of more comfort with workdays without travel and meetings without formals. Very soon this advantage was turned on its head as lines between work and personal life started blurring. Work expected you to be always on call and home assumed you were never away. Though remote work was expected to improve employee productivity, there is mounting evidence of increased burnout.
1 in 3 professionals in India feel burnt out due to increased workload and unmanageable stress. Professionals are seeking their personal space that has been squeezed between the responsibilities of home and work and they are looking forward to coming back to their workplace. (Source: Future of Work Perception Study by LinkedIn, 2021)
57% feel that commuting to their place of work would be a welcome relief after months of working from home. (Source: NICS 2021)
Yearning to get away from home
Tired of being cooped up in their homes with social distancing norms, travel restrictions, people have been aching to step out of their homes. With the easing of mobility restrictions, restaurants are witnessing rising footfalls as Indian consumers making frequent visits to their favourite restaurants.
Not only are consumers keen to experience a refreshing restaurant ambience rather than ordering in, the average order values have increased by 20%. WFH restrictive lifestyles have also allowed some more disposable income which consumers are glad to spend outdoors as evident in luxury dining increasing by as much as 120%. (Source: Report by Dineout)
Travellers have started to rekindle their travel plans through weekend getaways and similar convenient means to escape from the challenging life of work-from-home stifling schedules. Considering the renewed emphasis on personal control over cleanliness and hygiene, travellers are looking for nearby locations for road trips. Staycations are also an emerging trend where people are checking into at luxurious hotels to rejuvenate themselves with a pampered weekend.
Instagram is the new store
Fuelled by India’s fast-growing smartphone penetration and inexpensive data, social media access and engagement has been steadily growing. As the pandemic further accelerated the growth of e-commerce, social commerce has emerged as a favoured means of online shopping.
Making a purchase on social media has brought back the element of the shopping experience that shoppers miss in the online store environment. Discussions, direct messaging and video sharing features make social commerce closer to shopping in person. Consequently, social chatter is fast becoming an active driver of brand choice; while advertising manages to influence 38% towards a brand, 41% tend to be swayed by comments or reviews posted on social media. (Source: NICS 2021)
Riding on social word-of-mouth, today there are social commerce shoppers, account for 53% of total online shoppers in India. (Source: Report by WATConsult, Isobar)
Social commerce has proved to be an effective and affordable channel for smaller businesses. This channel has also presented a cost-effective alternative for larger businesses and brands reeling under the pressure of mounting customer acquisition costs and struggling to protect these precious customers from competitors wooing them endlessly with deep discounts.
Beauty goes beyond skin deep
The pandemic brought hand hygiene to the forefront where consumers reacted out of fear without having the time or opportunity to make well-thought through choices. The scenario however is vastly different today with consumers making well researched choices in personal care and are realising its significance of self-care more than ever. With virtual workplaces and limited social engagement, there is no mad rush to show up looking one’s best and people are moving towards a more sustainable self-care practice grounded in nature, health and wellness.
There is an increasing positive disposition towards slowing down through daily self-care rituals. A stark contrast to the fast-paced world of the beauty industry that sells us quick fixes, cover ups and immediate results.
True inclusion finding a voice among the youth
Consumers are being drawn towards brands that embrace diversity and advocate causes that support social equity. The generation Z, being at the forefront of this movement, are evaluating brands with a conscientious looking glass. These globally-connected consumers are constantly absorbing information and influences to make brand choices. They deeply value freedom of expression and the openness to accept different kinds of people and bluntly call out brands for stereotyping or alluding to any kind of discrimination.
This generation is also taking active steps to make a change around them 36% of Indian Gen Z educated themselves on diversity and inclusion matters and 37% tried to educate and change the views of those around them. 22% of Gen Zs have boycotted a company because they didn’t agree to its views or actions. (Source: Deloitte 2021 Millennial and Gen Z study)
Collective consciousness towards sustainability
The pandemic has been a wake-up call; consumers are now acutely aware of the cumulative damage caused to the environment by human carelessness and are eager to ‘make good.’ 76% pay lot of attention to environmental and societal issue in the news.
Increasing awareness and heightened consciousness have paved the way for more mindful living where consumers are seeking to coexist with nature and the environment. 77% are prepared to invest time and money to support companies that do good and while shopping 64% consumers factor in sustainability at least once in a while. (Source: Kantar Sustainability Foundational Report 21)
Brands can fuel these actions by increasing awareness about the use of green energy in their production process, making it easier to recycle, incentivising consumers and making it convenient for them to buy sustainable products.
“Locked in their homes and under restrictions, Indian consumers have also had a year of epiphany. They have realised the value of self-care, mindful living and are now seeking a more sustainable lifestyle. Some old habits have been replaced entirely, others adjusted, and the changes are here to stay. Our 2022 Annual Trends are borne out of the insights we generate at Kantar, based on our conversations with consumers across the country, and help guide you through a period of recovery and innovation,” Preeti Reddy, Chairwoman-South Asia Insights Division, said.