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Consumers will demand unprecedented flexibility from brands in 2021 – Zenith trends report

Consumers will be more open to new products and solutions in 2021 but will also demand higher levels of flexibility from brands than ever before, according to the latest annual consumer trends report from Zenith UK.

The report, The View, which analyses the previous 12 months and makes predictions for the year ahead, suggests that the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led many consumers to now expect no-fee cancellations and hassle-free returns processes when considering purchasing products and services.

Leonie Galliford, Head of Insight at Zenith UK, said: “We are labelling 2021 the year of flexibility. Following a year of unprecedented change, consumers are now demanding options such as free cancellations, flexible dates, zero notice cancellation periods, short-term contracts and the ability to pause subscriptions.

“2020 accelerated a variety of societal changes that are likely to stick around, including the rise of the ‘rental economy’. When the virus subsides, many consumers will pick up their lives where they left off but many more will start afresh with the brands they choose to purchase from.”

Zenith UK forecasts that 2021 will see an increase in the JOMO (joy of missing out) phenomenon, with people taking more pleasure in actively avoiding social events, social media, tech, specific foods and drinks, fast fashion, travel, and exercise.

The trends report also predicts that augmented reality will finally shift from a gimmicky, clunky niche, to a mainstream opportunity in 2021. Seventy-two percent of UK adults view AR as “fun and engaging” and global ad spend on AR is expected to grow more than 30% each year until 2023 (Sources: Zenith AR Consumer Research Mar ’20, 360 Market Updates Mar ’20).

Other key findings include:

• 57% of consumers are more likely than before to spend money at a business that offers locally produced goods once the lockdown has lifted;
• ‘Pet parents’ are a growing audience for brands in terms of products, services, and targeting opportunities – pet treat sales increased by 12% in the months after lockdown and Google searches for “dogs for sale” have doubled compared to last year;
• A new trend has emerged for people to look for motivation through inspiration and achievement, with 32% of GB consumers in saying they want to be more open to new challenges and 21% of adults using an app that motivates them to stick to a personal goal.

The report, which can be read in full here, was collated by Zenith Insights based on its own research and data pulled from a variety of sources including Statista, Foresight Factory, Mintel, Neuro-Insight, 360 Market Updates.