2021: The year of the compassionate consumer

The stress and uncertainty of 2020 has many of us re-examining our values as individuals and as consumers. The coronavirus outbreak has not only put a financial strain on most, but it has lead consumers of all incomes to consider their purchases more carefully. Consumers have become more empathetic and aware of the power of their dollar. We can expect this to translate into shifting consumer habits in the coming year.

Consumers are looking to connect with brands

Customers are looking more closely at corporate behavior and are looking for authenticity and humanity. The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study revealed that consumers are over 4 times more likely to trust and purchase from brands that have a strong purpose. Companies’ core values, business practices and customer service philosophies will be evaluated more than ever, as consumers are looking to support brands that resonate with them. Equality, diversity and inclusion in particular will be at the top of the consumer values list this year.

Consumers want to support a cause

Beyond supporting brands that align with their values; customers are looking to make an impact with their purchases. They want their preferred brands to stand for something, and for those brands to give back in a positive way. Therefore, consumers are increasingly looking to purchase from brands that support social causes. Shopify’s 2020 Retail Trend Report revealed that 53% of consumers prefer buying green or sustainable products, and 49% of consumers appreciate retailers that donate a portion of their sales to a good cause. Notably, as the pandemic comes to an end, the question of sustainability is expected to come back to the forefront and the demand for sustainable products will continue to rise substantially.

Consumers are prioritizing shopping local

After witnessing many local businesses suffer and shut their doors over the last year, consumers are increasingly seeing the value in keeping money within their communities. More and more people are shifting toward shopping local. The top 3 reasons for this shift are: (1) contributing to the local economy, (2) creating local jobs and (3) supporting their community.

Consumers want to shop small

As consumers veer their priorities to ethically oriented, local, responsible and purpose-driven companies, they are naturally shifting towards small businesses. In fact, Shopify’s report revealed that 50% of consumers look to support small independently-owned businesses because they want to: (1) encourage entrepreneurs, (2) discover unique products, (3) have a good  customer service experience and (4) reduce their impact on the environment.

While 2020 has been difficult for many small businesses, this year has given consumers renewed enthusiasm to support small businesses going forward. 2021 trends suggest that there will be better times ahead with the growth of conscious and compassionate consumers.