22 customer trends and predictions influencing 2022

Not the usual trends. We've dived deep to uncover the triggers influencing customer behaviour in 2022.

It’s that time of the year again, folks! 2022 is here, and with it comes that feeling of excitement, optimism, and curiosity for what this year will hold. As innovators and venture builders, we’re constantly keeping an eye on the most impactful customer trends and the influence they’ll have on our ever-changing business landscape. 

We’ve intentionally left out AI, video content, big data, automation, etc. Those “trends” crop up in every list every year, and frankly we feel they’re quite loose and don’t help you design and build great products for people. 

Customers are the lifeblood of every venture, and knowing what they think, need, want, and are delighted by is a fundamental part of building successful, customer-centric businesses. Much about customer behaviour has changed during the last two years, causing corporations all over the world to re-examine their offerings, messaging, business models, and values - and there are no signs of a slowdown. In other words, it’s never been more important to understand what’s next with the view to adapt and take advantage of these behaviours. 

With that goal in mind, we’ve tapped into our experiences, observations and research to bring you our top 22 customer trends and predictions for 2022.

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1. Demanding net-zero

With climate change and concerns for the health of our planet increasingly on everyone’s mind, governments, companies, and consumers all over the world are being pressured to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. It’s the right move ethically, but also from a business point of view:

  • 68% of millennials and 73% of Gen Z are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
  • 62% of millennial and Gen Z customers say they prefer to buy from sustainable brands.
  • 93% of Gen Z believes brands have an obligation to take a stand on the environment. 
  • 91% of global consumers expect companies to be socially and environmentally responsible. 

The percentage of companies committing to net-zero nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020, leading to where we are today, with a fifth of the world’s largest companies making a commitment. This has been led by consumer demand, but also, and more recently, government policies. It’s a necessity, which is why this is our top trend. We’ll be researching and sharing more insights around sustainability throughout the year, so keep an eye out. 

The takeaway:

It’s time to join the sustainability movement and make your own net-zero commitment. Corporate venturing methodology and techniques allow you to test and validate multiple sustainable options at the same time. Today’s customers are savvy to greenwashing, so these efforts should go beyond “talking the talk” and include initiatives with real impact. 

2. Enter the"metaverse" economy

(Image Credit: Facebook)

You’ve definitely heard about this one - it made major news in 2021. This potential future takes social commerce (already popular on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest) to a whole new level. It’s the next step offering brands and their customers a completely virtual space in which to create, buy, sell, use and showcase new products and services. Companies like Facebook (ahem, Meta), Google, and Microsoft are all already developing their capabilities and experimenting with marketplaces in this space. 

By selling directly to a customer’s avatar (D2A), companies will be able to move past some of today’s biggest challenges and bottlenecks (e.g. sustainable production, supply chain issues, etc.) and find new ways to create value for customers. Here are just a few examples of companies that have already stepped into the metaverse:

  • Nike with its virtual world Nikeland
  • Tinder, with its Tinderverse
  • Matterport, making perfect digital models of buildings and enabling remote exploration 

The takeaway:

Although it’s still in its infancy, there are plenty of interesting ways to experiment with this new trend, e.g.: 

  • Putting out an exclusive “metaverse version” of your product or service
  • Using existing capabilities to enhance metaverse infrastructure 

Untethered experimentation is the name of the game here, and for one main reason - it’s all one giant experiment currently. 

3. Micro-economies fueled by cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies have created a space for the development of an alternate, global, financial infrastructure - and develop it has! Now, various types of social tokens are becoming the currency of choice for content creators (e.g. influencers, writers, artists, musicians, etc.).

Instead of sharing profits and creative control with platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify, creators of all types are now launching their own social tokens and NFTs, essentially building a micro-economy around their personal brand. 

The takeaway:

With prominent artists and entertainment personalities like Jay Z, Ellen von Unwerth, Steve Aoki and Ellen DeGeneres all experimenting with this new trend, we’re sure to see more of it in 2022. Creating your own economy offers you a greater sense of control in how customers engage with your business and offering.  

4. Corporate activism and social responsibility

Companies that take a stand for socially just causes have been around for years, and their actions have touched customers and made waves all over the world: 

These companies are often rewarded with a feverishly loyal customer base, and the trend will only increase as younger generations gain spending power:

  • 57% of US customers reported having more loyalty to socially responsible brands.
  • 94% of Gen Z expect companies to take a stand on important societal issues. 
  • 90% are more willing to purchase products they deem beneficial to society.

The takeaway:

A growing number of customers expect their vendors to be a catalyst for positive change in the world. Make sure your efforts are authentic, measurable, transparent and most of all make a real impact. 

5. DEI or die 

Although an increase in corporate commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been on our radar for a while now, it is only more recently that we’ve seen this trend really start to break through. According to Deloitte Insights

“High-growth brands (defined as those with annual revenue growth of 10% or more) are more frequently establishing key performance metrics for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) objectives than their lower-growth competitors.”

If you’re wondering what’s driving this trend, the numbers speak for themselves:

  • 64% of buyers are more likely to buy from companies they view as inclusive and diverse.
  • 71% of consumers expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in their online ads.
  • ​​Companies that champion diversity have a 25% higher chance of financially outperforming those that don’t.

The takeaway:

Corporations around the world are making a concerted effort to become more diverse and inclusive: 

  • Making public DEI commitments
  • Creating more inclusive products, services and marketing strategies 
  • Building a more diverse corporate culture (e.g. hiring a Chief Diversity Officers)

We expect DEI to continue to rise as and simply become a standard way of doing business, much like how it’s expected to have a marketing or accounting department.

6. Customer loyalty redefined

Customers loyalty programs have evolved past conventional point systems, prizes and loyalty cards. Its newest form? Crypto rewards.

That’s right. A growing number of forward-thinking companies are creating their own cryptocurrencies and using them to create more modern, flexible and accessible customer loyalty programs. Companies that are already offering or plan to offer crypto rewards in the near future include Mastercard, Starbucks, and Visa.

The takeaway:

In 2022 we expect to see a growing number of corporations leverage cryptocurrencies to boost their loyalty programs. With 44% of Americans interested in receiving digital currencies as an alternative to traditional cash-back reward programs - this might very well become the new norm. Let’s be clear here though, minting your own cryptocurrency does not mean it’ll be the next Bitcoin!

7. NFTs as drivers of customer engagement, insights and loyalty 

(Image Credit: TacoBell)

You were probably expecting this one, but we can’t leave it out. Until recently, NFTs have mostly been seen as a novelty, focused on the ownership of digital art (e.g. albums, portraits, sketches, etc.). However, brands are increasingly recognising their potential as tools to:

  • Drive brand loyalty (e.g. offering NFTs as rewards)
  • Create customer engagement (e.g. by creating unique experiences tailored to the owners of NFTs)
  • Gather customer insights (e.g. creating contests where customers provide insights in exchange for the possibility of winning an NFT)

The takeaway:

NFTs offer companies the opportunity to provide their customers with a unique asset that can increase in value. In 2022, we expect to see a growing number of companies find new and creative ways of using them to boost customer engagement, gather insights and build customer loyalty. 

8. Designing for scarcity

During the last few years, customers have experienced a variety of situations that have challenged traditional “abundance thinking”. Supply chain delays, economic changes, strained resources, increased energy prices and the need for conservation and sustainability have fueled a trend towards conservation and minimalism. This trend is especially strong among younger generations. As a result, a growing number of businesses are designing for scarcity: 

  • Creating products that are more sustainable and planet-friendly
  • Removing unnecessary products and automating processes
  • Prioritising quality over quantity in their products and services 

The goal is to find new and innovative ways to bring value to customers while saving on resources, simplifying processes and operating more sustainably. 

The takeaway:

A great way to explore this trend is by building corporate ventures that test out new business models, technologies, products and services. Some great examples include Beiersdorf’s O.W.N, Starbucks Greener Stores and A Good Company

9. From ads to education

Did you know the average person is exposed to anywhere from 6.000 to 10.000 ads daily? With numbers like those, it’s easy to see why so many of us often feel like we’re being bombarded and swallowed up by ads,. This has led to decreased ad effectiveness–some click through rate benchmarks are less than 1%, which is alarming. This increased resistance is even more pronounced among younger customers (e.g. millennials and gen Z).

In response, businesses are moving away from traditional marketing tactics and focusing instead on educating their customers on the value of their products and services. Here are just a few examples of brands that are mastering this trend:

  • Canva - Showing how to save your design in 32 seconds. 
  • Coach - With this fun, animated video showcasing how to style their scarves.  
  • OKEx - With their academy offering tutorials for cryptocurrency newbies. 

The takeaway:

Don’t forget you’re also a customer - do always want to be sold to? Aim to form deeper connections with your customers by shifting your focus from “the discount” to teaching them how to get the most out of your products and services. Be human.

10. QCommerce

Speed and convenience have always been high on most customers’ wishlists, and companies that can deliver them have historically dominated the market. Recent tech advances have given way to a new generation of players that are taking speed and convenience to the next level, e.g.:

  • Groceries that are delivered in 10 minutes 
  • Bank apps that make instant money transfers
  • Readily available electric scooters just a few steps from your apartment 

In fact, according to Forrester, most customers expect a response from a company within five minutes or less.

The takeaway:

With more new startups entering the market, focusing on speed, convenience, and the ability to provide customers with a sense of instant satisfaction this will be a key competitive advantage.

11. Cognification of products and services 

In 2020 and 2021, AI was one of the top buzzwords, with almost every industry using it to boost their products, services and capabilities. We saw a significant increase in the “cognification” of household devices, cars and even services. In fact, globally businesses spent a whopping $50 B on AI projects in 2020 alone, and the trend is showing no sign of a slowdown:

  • 78% of executives use or plan to use AI as part of their process automation initiatives.
  • 66% of businesses reported increased revenue as a result of AI systems.
  • 40% of corporates will use AI-augmented automation by 2023, freeing up IT teams for strategic work.

In 2022, we predict a more effective application of this tech, driven by 5G, more powerful computer chips, cheap sensors, flexible cloud services and robotic process automation (RPA). Don’t be surprised to see an increase in its use for things like boosting CX, cybersecurity and predicting IT issues.

The takeaway:

Adopting a ROI-focused, ‘smart’ approach in 2022 will help many companies speed up the time between gathering insights, making decisions and seeing their results. 

12. Real-time everything

The newest trend in CX? Real-time and customised updates, deals, and content. Today’s customers won’t go looking for interactions with your brand; instead, they expect to be contacted with the exact information they’re looking for at just the right time. Companies that master this art will successfully engage their target audience and more easily build a loyal following.

So how can you achieve that goal?

In a nutshell, you’ll need to build on your classic post-experience metrics (e.g. surveys, focus groups) to understand your target audience’s real-time needs and behaviour. Effective ways to achieve this goal include using web analytics, beacon technology, sentiment analysis and the use of one-click feedback-sharing options throughout your customer journey. 

The takeaway:

With more customers expecting real-time interactions from their preferred vendors, creating the channels that will facilitate them is a smart move. The work you put into this now will eventually enable you to anticipate your customers needs more accurately and even make changes to their customer experience as it happens. 

13. Customer experiences with a side of wonder

(Image Credit: spotify)

With so many ads hitting us at every minute of the day, it’s hard to be pleasantly surprised or encounter an offering that provides a sense of wonder. Most transactions are pretty straightforward, with customers ordering exactly what they want and the vendor delivering it as specified. However, some companies are still managing to find new ways to boost their CX by pleasantly surprising their customers. Here are just a few examples:

  • SnackNation delights its customers by introducing them to boxes of tasty goodies.
  • Spotify’s end of the year “Spotify Wrapped” is highly anticipated by customers.
  • Barkbox provides endless dog joy with monthly boxes of surprise toys and treats. 

The takeaway:

With 63% of global shoppers reporting that they enjoy discovering items, they weren’t actively searching for, finding new ways to fill that need can put you a step ahead of competitors.  

14. Living local

Spurred by a thirst for connections after the 2020 lockdowns, an increased sense of community, fewer people commuting and efforts to decrease carbon emissions, many consumers are shopping locally. The trend is especially prevalent among millennials and Gen Z, who view shopping locally as a way to revive and support their communities. A recent Gen Z survey in the US reported:

  • 65% of respondents adjusted their shopping behaviour to support local businesses.
  • 77% said shopping online allowed them to buy products from new or smaller companies.

The takeaway:

Global companies can join the trend and attract these younger customers by starting initiatives that support the communities they serve. Here are just a few examples of companies that have mastered having a global reach with a local mindset:

15. A booming C2C economy

In recent years, we saw a marked rise in companies exploring D2C, cutting out the middleman and connecting directly with customers. So what’s next on the horizon for 2022? A growing customer-to-customer (C2C) economy.

The C2C business model enables customers to connect and trade goods and services. The trend has already fueled the creation of huge platforms like Uber, eBay and Etsy. We expect to see enormous growth in this trend in 2022 and beyond. 

The takeaway:

The C2C marketplace is increasing in popularity, particularly among younger buyers looking for unique products and new ways to support small businesses. This could present an interesting opportunity for larger players with the capabilities to create new platforms where C2C can thrive. 

16. Rise of the "side hustle" economy

In recent years an increasing number of people have taken up a side hustle to make a little extra cash doing the things they love. New technologies and C2C platforms have facilitated the trend giving way to a whole new side hustle economy. 

Today, one in four Brits and over 45% of Americans have some kind of side venture on top of their full-time job. These efforts are turning into profitable full-time businesses for many workers, enabling them to monetise their talents, spend more time developing their skills, and lead more fulfilled lives. 

The takeaway:

Expect to see more of these small businesses pop up in 2022 with a deep focus on specific products on services rather than a wide offering, with a growing number of people putting their products and services into the market and fueling the growth of C2C platforms. 

17. From fast to second-hand fashion 

We’ve all seen the headlines announcing the death of fast fashion, spearheaded by environmentally and socially conscious millennials and Gen Z. Their choice? Second-hand fashion. In fact, according to a study, the second-hand fashion market is expected to reach $84 B by 2030, with fast fashion predicted to lag behind at about $40 B. Here are a few of the recent numbers:

  • 76% of shoppers want retailers to commit further to address environmental concerns.
  • 33 M US shoppers bought second-hand clothing for the first time in 2020. 
  • The global second-hand market will grow by 15 to 20% per year in the next five years.

The takeaway:

With younger customers gaining spending power and making more conscious purchasing choices, fast fashion providers might want to rethink their approach (e.g. working with recyclable materials, providing fair wages, and being more environmentally and socially responsible). 

18. The digital nomad lifestyle will create new needs

In case you hadn’t heard about them yet, “digital nomads” are people who can work remotely from anywhere in the world - facilitated by technology. Typical skill sets include (but are not limited to) digital marketing, blogging, graphic design, tutoring and sales. 

Although this trend has been around for a while already, it’s become quite prominent in recent years, with nomads in the US going from 4,8 M in 2018 to 11 M in 2021. Globally, there are currently about 35 M, some of which work right here at Bundl. Here are a few interesting stats to help you get to know them better:

  • About 71% work full-time while the other 29% work part-time.
  • 24 M Americans plan to become digital nomads in the next 2 to 3 years.
  • 61% of digital nomads are married, while 39% are single.
  • The average age of a digital nomad is 32 years old.
  • 36% work freelance for companies, 33% own a business, 21% work for a set company. 

The takeaway:

Although the digital nomad lifestyle is still just a trend, it has the potential to become a full-blown revolution, creating a whole new set of customer needs. This could present an interesting opportunity for companies to explore from a customer needs perspective and a talent recruitment perspective. 

19. The great resignation 

The great resignation (aka the big quit) is a global phenomenon marked by employees quitting their jobs in record numbers. As explained by McKinsey, employees are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, leading them to question their options. Many report craving a higher level of trust, connection and purpose in their work. According to the Harvard Business Review, this trend is highest among:

  • Mid-career employees ages 30 to 45
  • Tech and healthcare companies

This has left many companies struggling to fill open vacancies and figure out why so many employees have walked away from their jobs. 

The takeaway:

The 9-5 living structure is on its way out, which means that predictable routines are going to be thrown into the air. There is great opportunity in predicting the new moments and habits people will form, especially around more family and personal time.

20. Employees will want more flexibility 

Accelerated by the recent lockdowns, a growing number of businesses are switching from conventional nine to five models and offering more flexible, remote working options. This is a smart move considering the results of a recent study by EY Global:

  • 54% of employees said they would consider leaving their job if they were not given some flexibility to choose where and when they work.
  • Most employees reported a preference to work from home two to three times a week.
  • 33% of employees want a shorter working week altogether.

The takeaway:

Hybrid, flexible work models are already quite common, and the trend will continue to grow in 2022, with workplaces finding new and innovative ways to retain and attract talent. The trend will undoubtedly bring with it new opportunities for the creation of products and services.

21. The “age of cynicism”

More than ever, customers are choosing brands that stand for a purpose, be it the environment (see trend one), social responsibility (see trend six) or inclusivity (see trend seven). However, after years of companies greenwashing and “talking the talk” without “walking the walk”, customers have become savvy, demanding that vendors take real action. According to a recent survey by Havas Group:

  • Only about 47% of brands are seen as trustworthy.
  • 75% could disappear and be easily replaced.
  • 71% of respondents have little faith that brands will deliver on their promises.

Despite cynicism being at an all-time high, customers are still looking for brands with an authentic purpose they can get behind.

The takeaway:

Customer trust is a crucial part of building a loyal customer base, and in the age of cynicism, companies that are authentic, transparent and genuine will have a big competitive edge. 

22. Customer privacy will be a hot topic

With more of our daily processes (e.g. work, shopping, communication) happening online, customers are increasingly concerned about their privacy. According to Matt Brittin, President of EMEA Business & Operations for Google, 73% report a preference for online services that promise high data protection (e.g. encrypted emails and privacy-protecting search engines).

Marketers will need to be mindful of this growing concern and re-think their methods of gathering customer data, opting for alternatives that enable customers to take control of the data they share. 

The takeaway:

A good way to gain customer trust is by being more open, honest and transparent about how personal customer data is collected and what it will be used for. 

Here’s to a new year bursting with opportunities!

We hope the trends and predictions provided above will inspire your creativity and give you a deeper insight into your customer’s perceptions, expectations and points of view. Use them as a reference point when building your new 2022 customer experiences and strategies.

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Are you a corporate innovator looking for new ways to accelerate growth and create new revenue streams in 2022? We can help you define new, unique value spaces within your industry and beyond.


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