Defining the 2022 consumer - a trend report

2022 Consumer Trends Report

2021 was the year of collective readjustment. Accepting the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 world, people tried to reclaim their lives. For some, this meant dramatic changes on a personal or professional level, whilst for others, small tweaks were made along the way. People sought to find a balance between the long term and short term, and it is this duality, the balancing of purpose and pleasure, that we now seek to fulfil to achieve happiness. In 2022, we will all strive to rebound and rebalance.

Whilst this mission – or goal – is universal, human behavior will differ around the world, impacted by cultural norms and societal pressures. To understand these differences, our fieldwork blends qualitative exploration through the Illume Network, our global leading-edge consumer group, with a quantification amongst everyday consumers in 17 markets. The result is a global map of each of the 10 trends identified in this year’s Consumer Trends Report: Rebound + Rebalance as well as a ‘score’ per trend, which denotes positive attitude and/or behavior towards it.

Non-Linear lifestyles

So, what defines the consumer of 2022?

At a global level, one of the highest-scoring trends is Non-linear Lifestyles at 80%. It comes from a desire to rip up the life-stage rulebook and re-evaluate our roles and societal systems. For some, this might involve a career pivot, whilst others might go against the grain with other lifestyle choices. Our path in life will no longer be defined by conventional milestones. Whilst classified as expanding in most markets, this trend is nascent in Thailand and the Philippines, presenting an opportunity for first-mover brands in these markets to inspire new life paths for consumers.

Extending life

Taking a more regional view, we can see some similarities in trend scores around the world. Extending Life, for example, is prominent in Africa (80%), Europe (78%), and the US (76%). This trend demonstrates the need to creatively extend the life cycle of our things, from plants to furniture, clothes to appliances. Even when products are marketed as ‘green’, consumers know that buying new is not sustainable. We again see this trend classified as nascent in some Asian markets (Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China), and it will be interesting to see whether consumers in those countries follow the global trend of minimizing waste in the future.

Redefining normal

At the other end of the scale, we see the trend Redefining Normal with the lowest global trend score of 64%. It is nascent in all 17 markets, with the lowest score in Indonesia (48%) and the highest in Australia (68%). This trend paints an interesting picture, as it reflects our need to question the things which society presents as ‘normal’. It suggests that consumers want more products and services that represent a truer reality. Despite being a nascent trend, many brands are already tapping into it, from Netflix’s hit show Bombay Begums exploring stigma around menopause amongst women in Mumbai, to Tiffany & Co’s engagement ring collection for men redefining gender norms.

Sensory Stimulation

Regardless of market, we typically find that the trends score higher amongst NextGen consumers (Millennials and Gen Z) than with other generations. NextGen expert Joeri Van den Bergh explains: “In this inter-COVID time, we found that young generations are eager to re-start their lives by looking for new ways to stimulate their senses, connecting more inclusively and just having spontaneous moments of fun and escapism.” This difference is most prevalent for the Sensory Stimulation trend, scoring 66% with the total population, and 74% amongst NextGen. Capturing our desire to stimulate the senses through digital enhancement, it’s unsurprising that younger consumers expect enhanced experiences that are multi-sensorial, without being intrusive.

Wish to learn more about these and other consumer trends?
Get your free download of our 2022 global trend report!

2022 Consumer Trends Report

2022 Consumer Trends report

As experts in people-centric future thinking, we identified 10 consumer trends for 2022, and we validated these with 15,000 consumers in 17 markets around the globe. This report shows the emerging trends that are shaping the 2022 consumer.

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