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    Trend Forecasting: Top 10 Consumer Trends To Watch in 2024

    by: Madeline Koufogazos
    Trend Forecasting: Top 10 Consumer Trends To Watch in 2024

    There’s a common misconception about trends: They don’t just appear out of thin air. 

    They’re the lace socks paired with Doc Martens you spot on a tween on the subway. The Rachel Green hairdo that takes the internet by storm. Before you know it, all the popular retailers are selling 1990s-inspired clothing. 

    It may seem like trends appear (or reappear) out of nowhere, but they were gradually — or sometimes rapidly — building steam behind the scenes.

    Consumer trend forecasting is the science of analyzing what’s already happened to predict what comes next. And current forecasts show that existing trends will only continue to pick up traction in the new year.

    In 2024, you can expect to see an even stronger focus on experience-boosting technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and social media, and value-driven shopping options like experiential retail and direct-to-consumer (DTC).

    Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 consumer trends forecasted for 2024, with detailed tips and tricks for joining in on the hype. 

    1. Consumers Are Letting AI Take Charge

    For early aughts teens who grew up instant messaging with SmarterChild, interacting with Microsoft Word’s office assistant Clippy, and watching the Disney Channel movie “Smart House” about a computerized home, AI has made leaps and bounds in their lifetimes. 

    What was once a fun consideration has become a crucial part of everyday life. Take Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, for example. These AI assistants offer insight into the daily weather, let users set voice-activated timers, and automatically change light settings in houses. 

    When AI is used expertly in ecommerce to create unique, elevated shopping experiences, consumers will bite. 

    According to Statista, 41% of respondents believe that AI will improve their product recommendations, and 46% believe that it will increase their chances of finding deals online. 

    McKinsey & Company reports that 71% of consumers expect personalization, and 76% are frustrated if they don’t receive it. Sixty-seven percent of consumers want brands to give them relevant product or service recommendations during their very first interaction.

    To meet these consumer demands, consider elevating your personalized shopping experiences by creating a personified chatbot, like Alexa and Siri, or building an algorithm that will take the personalization process even further. 

    AI can help prevent you from dropping the ball here by creating push notifications that recommend products or remind users to pick up where they left off on their last visit. 

    Keep in mind, though, that you want to maintain a human edge. Avoid leaning too heavily into writing assistants like ChatGPT. Consumers want to feel catered to, and a strong AI voice will make them feel like mere transactions. 

    2. Social Media Has a Permanent Seat at the Commerce Table 

    By 2028, social media will become a virtual escape for nearly 331 million global users, according to Statista. And as this figure continues to rapidly grow, social media and commerce are becoming increasingly intertwined. 

    It makes sense that social media and social commerce, often referred to as social shopping, go hand in hand. Social commerce allows users to purchase items from their favorite brands and shops directly on their preferred social media platform.

    Not only is it convenient and easy, but it allows them to spend even more time on their favorite apps without having to divert their attention elsewhere. 

    There are a plethora of social commerce features you can take advantage of, including: 

    • Live stream videos
    • Shoppable videos
    • Product catalogs
    • Instagram Checkout
    • TikTok Shop

    Pinterest is an often-overlooked — but secretly lucrative — social media platform. Between 2024 and 2027, Pinterest users are expected to increase by 4.9 million users, reports Statista

    It’s the perfect platform for giving consumers the freedom to express their creativity. If you’re a furniture brand, for example, you could create a Pinterest Business account and post beautifully styled pins of your products to give users decorating inspiration.

    3. Influencers Are Here To Stay 

    If you want to rock the social media world, you need a designated social media team. They’ll help you execute a killer social media strategy, grow your online presence, and keep a finger on the pulse of current and upcoming trends.

    They’ll also recruit and onboard influencers and brand ambassadors who’ll do the groundwork for you by creating user-generated content (UGC), running product giveaways, and more.

    It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: Influencers give you credibility, and you give them free products and visibility. 

    Be selective about who you choose to work with, however. Partner with influencers who align with your brand values and message. Consider establishing a brand ambassador program that people can apply for, which will let you select the best possible candidates. 

    4. Omnichannel Is Crucial for Digital Shelf Success

    Omnichannel commerce has permeated and permanently altered how consumers shop. The discovery-to-purchase journey now resembles the path on a Candy Land board game more than a straight line.

    Consumers need the flexibility to purchase your products whenever and wherever they please. 

    If you want to improve your omnichannel practices, consider implementing the following delivery and pickup options

    • Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS)
    • Buy now, pick up later
    • Curbside pickup
    • Same-day delivery

    According to Salsify’s “2024 Consumer Research” report — a survey of 2,700 U.S. and U.K. respondents across generation groups — 73% of consumers attribute their brand loyalty to amazing product quality and 44% reference brand reputation and trust. 

    Offering unified, consistent shopping experiences with excellent product content across all touch points is crucial to omnichannel success on the digital shelf.

    You can achieve this with a product experience management (PXM) solution that will help you instantly syndicate product data across all channels; maintain data quality and accuracy; and provide consumers with the engaging experiences they demand. 

    Having an excellent online presence is crucial, but don’t forget to show your in-store shoppers some love by creating visually appealing, fun brick-and-mortar experiences. NYC-based store Big Night, for example, has a riveting website that matches its in-store aesthetic, causing TikTokers to rave about their store visits. 

    Video Source: Stelllalala TikTok

    5. Segmentation Is Sexy 

    Segmentation is about more than simple categorization. It’s about unifying groups of people who share interests, hobbies, backgrounds, and more. It’s an excellent way to make your customers feel like they belong

    Consider how you deliver ads to each of your target audiences, for example. You could create a blanket campaign that targets everyone simultaneously, but you’d be glossing over some much-needed nuance. 

    Here are some marketing suggestions for targeting consumers from specific generations:

    Generation Alpha (Gen Alpha)

    YouTube is Gen Alpha’s preferred method for product discovery. The best way to win their loyalty is to collaborate with a YouTube child influencer to promote your products in an unboxing video.

    Generation Z (Gen Z)

    Gen Z spends the majority of their time on apps like Instagram and TikTok. Work with popular influencers or celebrities who will resonate with this generation. Emphasize how your products will help Gen Z stay connected with their peers and give them the “it” factor.  

    Millennials

    Much like Gen Zers, millennials spend most of their time on Instagram and TikTok. When you’re targeting millennials, reinforce how your products will improve their quality of life and self-care. 

    Generation X (Gen X)

    Gen X is the oft-forgotten generation, but it would be unwise to leave them out. While they still prefer in-store shopping, Gen Xers won’t say no to a TV ad or a targeted Facebook ad. They’re willing to shell out extra money for quality products, so don’t skimp on the campaign budget. 

    Baby Boomers 

    Baby boomers are staunch brand loyalists — and they demand loyalty in return, especially during their shopping experiences. 

    Offering optimized omnichannel experiences across every touch point, such as excellent product pages and visually appealing in-store displays will keep you top of mind for a baby boomer.  

    Segmentation Hot Tips  

    Gen Alpha, Gen Z, and millennials are quick to shirk brand loyalty for a better deal, so you must build strong relationships with them through well-executed segmentation. 

    If you have a global audience, don’t forget to account for localization, translation, and cultural sensitivities in your campaigns. 

    Surveys are a great way to ensure that you’re reaching your desired audiences. Offer an incentive like a discount or a freebie for their valued insights. You can use this information to formulate buyer personas that can serve as the basis for better, more personalized marketing.

    6. Experiential Retail Is Where It’s At 

    Experiential retail is all about offering customers something they can write home about. Think gamification, shoppable videos, pop-up shops. Things that will build excitement and hype around your brand

    Gamification is an excellent way to get customers' attention. Makeup retailer Sephora, for example, provides its Beauty Insider loyalty program members an opportunity to ramp up their points through gamified experiences, according to digital media magazine Glossy

    The game includes four tasks that encourage different actions, such as engaging in BOPIS and signing up for text alerts. Members can cash in the points they earn in exchange for rewards or discounts, says Glossy. 

    “[Our customers] couldn’t have been clearer when they told us they want gaming elements included in our loyalty program to create more ways to connect with Sephora,” says Emeline Berlind, senior vice president and general manager of loyalty at Sephora via Glossy. “We also know that engaging loyalty benefits, exclusive access, and perks are important to Gen Z.”

    Shoppable videos are also an effective way to give consumers an interactive experience. They allow consumers to find out more about featured products within seconds, removing the friction that all too often causes them to abandon their carts. 

    Pop-up shops are a perfect way to build brand hype. You could open up a (temporary) shop in a popular destination like London or NYC. Or you could get creative in a random destination like artists did with the Prada Marfa art installation that juxtaposes luxury with the desert landscape. 

    UGC allows consumers to place themselves in the heart of the experience and offer their insights and recommendations. Highlighting well-executed UGC on your social media accounts allows consumers to join in on the brand conversation. 

    7. Consumers Want You To Think Outside of the Box 

    2023 was the year of Barbie. Various brands rolled out the pink carpet for the iconic plastic diva and joined in on the fun. It resulted in some of the most unique, out-of-the-box marketing tactics

    These original marketing strategies and experiential retail have a symbiotic relationship. Changing consumers’ perceptions of your brand means delivering truly creative marketing.

    If you’re a home improvement brand that typically markets to older homeowners, for example, you could create a TikTok series for young renters who don’t have a bench full of tools at their disposal. 

    Focus on renter-friendly home improvements, like how to apply removable wallpaper or swap out paint-covered outlet covers (the landlord’s special) for much prettier ones. 

    If you want to create intrigue, partner with a brand or retailer that’s outside of your realm like makeup brand ColourPop did with the anime TV series Sailor Moon. You’ll dig into the nostalgia factor that gets so many people to buy. 

    Be loosey-goosey with it. Don’t be afraid to shake things up.

    8. Sustainable Shopping Is Good for the Earth (and the Wallet) 

    Thrifting and secondhand shopping are becoming more and more popular — and brands need to keep up. Sustainability means more than slapping a “reduce, reuse, recycle” sticker on a package and calling it a day.

    Gen Z is especially savvy in sustainability practices, putting their dollars toward brands that show up for the environment. 

    Brands like Levi’s are giving their gently used products new life on portions of their website dedicated to resale. With secondhand shopping becoming a more prevalent way to buy clothing, it makes sense that brands would put effort into reviving their old products.

    These items will likely still be sold on circular fashion sites like Depop and Poshmark, but brands can become part of the narrative by participating in resale.

    Sustainability has also branched into the luxury market. Websites like The RealReal and eBay offer consumers opportunities to purchase vintage or out-of-season, authenticated luxury goods from brand-name designers.  

    Transparency is crucial. Shoppers want to know that you’re committed to sustainability across the board. Otherwise, they’ll sense you’re just in it for the label.

    They want to know that you pay your workers, drivers, and manufacturers fairly. They want to know you’re reducing your carbon footprint by using environmentally friendly packaging like dissolvable shipping peanuts and biodegradable plastics. 

    Take a note from the clothing brand Everlane, which does an excellent job of providing details about the factors that influence its pricing.

    Everlane pricing transparency

    Image Source: Everlane

    9. Direct-to-Consumer = Direct to Consumers’ Hearts 

    Direct-to-consumer commerce cuts out the middleman and allows consumers to purchase directly from their favorite shops. This allows you to form a strong bond with your customers in a way that third-party (3P) marketplaces don’t. 

    Pet essentials brand Chewy shows that it values its customers like family through concerted and connective actions. For example, the brand sent out more than a thousand personal free pet portraits to its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to pet publication Daily Paws.

    This random act of kindness forged even stronger customer relationships during a time of uncertainty. 

    To form these kinds of connections with consumers, brainstorm extra perks you can give them. Take the makeup brand Saie as an example. Saie offered lavender makeup bags to customers who purchase directly from their site rather than through Sephora. 

    Social commerce is an excellent avenue for brands that want to encourage and grow customer relationships. Responding to comments and direct messages is an opportunity to engage with your customers, and creating fun content allows you to show off a little personality.

    10. Holiday Shopping Extends Beyond ‘Ber’ Months 

    The “ber” months — October, November, December — don’t have a chokehold on holiday shoppers anymore. Brands that want to capture shoppers' attention need to do so early and often throughout the year

    Much like watching “Die Hard” in July (it’s a Christmas movie), prepping early might feel strange, but it’s necessary

    Inflation is causing more and more shoppers to hold back on making big purchases, so you need to find ways to offer discounts and sales that will entice them to buy while going easy on their wallets

    Trend Forecasting for 2024: It’s Going To Be a Good Year 

    These 10 trends are things you’ll see come up time and time again, so consider this a trend forecasting guide rather than a one-time read.

    By focusing on these trends and implementing them into your strategy, you’ll show consumers that you’re listening to them and delivering on their needs. What could be better than that?

    Featured images -  Consumer Research 20244
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    Written by: Madeline Koufogazos

    Madeline Koufogazos (she/her) is an editor and writer at Salsify, based out of Boston. She enjoys sharing her insights on consumer trends and behaviors, commerce, media, pop culture, and travel.

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