By Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis
COO & Head of Insights, Retail Doctor Group

In the last 12 months, the world has changed significantly and consumers are no different.

If we even just think back 5 years, the thought of virtually trying on clothes and purchases being delivered by drones seemed crazy and yet now it is becoming the norm with KFC trialling drone delivery and everyone from Levis to Gucci utilising augmented reality to allow consumers to try on clothes without having to get undressed.

As we use our crystal ball to gaze into 2022, what are the consumer trends that will continue and what are those that we expect to see?

In my previous blog we talked through the first 4 trends: Time as a currency, Retail as an activity, Loyalty Programs, Rise of Social Media (Read it here). Let’s now have a look at the final 4 trends that we predict for the 2022 consumer.

5. Pre-research (Non-mover)

Consumers have more data available to them than ever before, more than they could ever use. 88% of consumers now research in advance before making a purchase. However, with the multitude of data and points of contact before a consumer makes that purchase how can retailers and brands ensure they are offering the right information at the right time in the right location?

The phrase “Customer Journey” is now an overused buzz term however it is vitally important to ensure you get maximum impact for minimal expenditure. Whilst we can use historical data to track our customer’s journey how can we predict what they will do in future? One aspect of pre-researching is different consumers are looking for different things prior to purchase.

When we dig into the emotional drivers of consumer behaviour we see that we have consumers who are looking for data, detail and proof! As part of their pre-research, they are happy to read in detail reports and statistics. They want websites with this information backed up with data and real-life examples from consumer forums and chat rooms. This differs significantly from our consumers who are looking purely for visual appeal, they want to use minimal effort to find what they want and they want the process to be enjoyable, highly influenced by beautiful adverts and their attention is easily attracted through posters, billboards and other highly visual means.

Understand these emotional drivers and you can create not only a customer journey but also how to appeal to their subconscious at each step.

6. Digital Enabling (Increase since 2021)

Digital is now a normal part of every retail transaction, whether it be automated check out, instore product finding or virtual reality the 2022 consumer is now a digital native whatever their age. Our research is showing that customers are now demanding more and more digital solutions on their retail journey. 1 in 3 are looking for digital screens in-store to find the products they want (Link this back to trend 1 – time is a currency). 17% are influenced by Augment reality when purchasing a product – think about trend 2 Retail as entertainment – this digital solution brings to life the online retailer – and allows consumers to gamify the experience of shopping, moving it away from purely transactional.

Whilst I am still a strong believer in the physical experience, we are all human and the desire to interact in the physical space with other humans is strong, there is a place for digital in our consumer’s journey with us. However as with previous trends, it is not one size fits all, it comes back to what is your consumer looking for from you? How can you use digital to either simplify their engagement or make it more exciting?

7. Brand ethics (Non-mover)

Having a stance on all things ethical and sustainable is now a hygiene factor for consumers, it needs to exist and be authentic (Another buzz term I would prefer to avoid). However, the inclusion of an ethical point of view is important to brands as they build their community of consumers.

We predict that consumers will become more actively involved in the ethical and sustainable policies of brands, and use the tools and ideas that brands can offer them to build their own ethical POV. Brands have the opportunity to lead the charge here and engage with consumers to create actionable policies.

Whilst Gen Z and Millennials are more vocal on this topic, thanks to the huge array of social platforms that enable their voice to be heard, our other demographics also have an interest and needs in this area.

However, their level of engagement again ties back to each consumer’s different personality. For example – We have one personality type whose drivers are related to environmental impacts, more likely to be interested in plant-based products and protection of animals and the environment. We then have another personality type that is quite self-centred in their needs, they want to support an ethical brand but mainly for the “Good Feels” it gives them, they are less interested in what the cause is, more that they are contributing. A third example is our activist consumer, they want to be involved in the change, they will lead the charge and actively engage with brands who can give them their platform through events and actions to get involved.

8. Local & Australian (Non-mover)

Our final trend we predict to continue is also one that is a by-product of the pandemic but we predict to continue at least for the next 12 months – local and Australian.

Whether this is where products are made, who owns the business or where the ingredients are sourced, this is still a priority for consumers and they will actively choose retailers who fall into this category over those who do not.

1 in 3 consumers are willing to pay more for Australian made products (RDG Insights consumer research 2022), and more are wanting to know the provenance of their products.

Brands will need to explore ways to connect locally – be it through highlighting local provenance, customising for local needs or engaging in locally relevant ways – it is now more than just supporting a local producer and consumers want to see how brands are stepping up to re-engage the local and Australian businesses.

So whilst the world is changing, one this still remains important, talk to your consumers, listen to what they have to say. Go beyond standard demographics and understand their emotional needs as this will add a whole new dimension to your brand, in-store experience and marketing.

Contact RDG Insights Division via for a better understanding of your customers’ minds with directions for your 2022 brand strategy.