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5 important consumer trends brands should look out for in 2024

5 important consumer trends brands should look out for in 2024

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In today's customer-centric world, customer experience has become a crucial aspect of business strategy. However, consumer behaviours are changing faster than brands can change their businesses in the post-pandemic era, so keeping pace is a constant challenge.

With the emergence of new technologies such as generative AI and shrinking budgets, some brands may find it difficult to sustain their usual customer strategies. Instead, companies may need to find creative and cost-effective ways to continue prioritising customer experience. 

Poised to explore the decline of customer obsession, the influence of generative AI, the stagnation of creativity, the balance of tech benefits and burdens, and people’s new life goals, Accenture Song video-interviewed 49 people in seven countries to get elements of the trends described in their own words. It also ran an online survey across 21 countries with 15,227 respondents in August 2023 to validate the magnitude of the trends.

What are consumer trends advertisers and marketers should look out for in 2024? Let's delve into the trends identified by Accenture Song.

1. The change in customer sentiment

Given that businesses worldwide are facing economic challenges, they are scrambling to protect profits against a strained economic backdrop, with one major consequence: the erosion of customer experiences. Quality or size reductions, declines in service, customer service shortcomings and unwelcome subscriptions are adding up to a sense that brands are quietly reversing their promises.

According to the survey, 37% of respondents worldwide believed that many companies are prioritising higher profits over better customer experience. Meanwhile, 40% of CXOs said they plan to raise prices to pass cost increases to customers.

Both brands and customers are having to reduce costs. If brands keep going down this road, people will only get more frustrated, and long-term prospects will take a hit. Loyalty suffers when finances are tight, leaving price and value as the most influential factors in buying decisions. 

Efficiencies aren’t efficient if they cause customers to walk. Customer experience must rise back up the priority list as a route to growth, and become a joint project for service, marketing and design. The next steps should include stamping out issues that breed customer resentment, investing in the brand to show the value it provides, and finding a new balance.

2. The shift in human behaviours and expectations 

Generative AI is upgrading people’s experience of the internet from transactional to personal, enabling them to feel more digitally understood and relevant than ever.

In fact, generative AI is using large language models to stage intelligent, two-way conversations, allowing people to feel deeply understood. For businesses, the technology’s flexibility and nuance present an amazing opportunity to shape a more relatable, human-like representation of the brand—one that can build customer relationships in meaningful ways.

The survey revealed that 39% of respondents aged between 18 and 34 were excited about conversational answers over standard internet searches. Moreover, 42% were comfortable with the idea of using conversational AI to find product recommendations.

Brands will need to determine how this new incarnation of their company sounds or looks, what its personality should be like, and how or if it could be embodied virtually. This will require a profound knowledge of the character of the brand.

With the pace of change showing no sign of easing, brands should consider now what large language models might help them achieve. Brands that successfully use this technology will become part of a new dynamic that makes people feel more understood than ever before—and allows brands to be better understood, too.

3. Meh-diocrity

The chief aim of creativity used to be inspiring an emotional response through imagination and human connection. Now that algorithms and tech often sit between creator and audience, it’s become about playing the game or risking going undiscovered, which influences the end product—sometimes for the worse. 

The survey found that 35% of respondents found app designs indistinguishable across brands, a sentiment that rises to nearly 40% among 18-to-24-year-olds. 42% said branding for banking and insurance services is hard to differentiate. Moreover, 37% said brand messaging on sustainability is hard to differentiate. 

Budget for innovation is usually one of the first cuts when times are tough, yet novelty drives excitement and emotional connection and is a key differentiator in any market.

This mediocrity challenge isn't going to solve itself, and might even get worse as generative AI becomes a bigger player in creative processes. The savvy will see an opportunity here: in a sea of familiarity, originality will always stand out—as will investing in creative talent.

Whatever business they’re in, brands should believe once more in the power of creativity to set them apart from the competition and give creatives the budget, time and opportunity to renew their focus on the craft and learn how best to harness technology for good.

4. Human request limit reached 

Certain types of digital technology battle for people’s attention or sit between them and whatever they want to achieve. Each time a new technology or platform launches, they have to work out whether it’s worth the bother. Changes often feel too fast to manage—or even to understand—and the future seems daunting.

The survey found that 47% of respondents found the speed of new technology overwhelming. 41% of frequent tech users said that technology complicated their lives just as much as it simplified them. Meanwhile, one in six people said they were switching to less advanced tech solutions such as dumbphones to control the amount of time they spend with technology.

With the pace showing no sign of easing up, people will soon have to work out how to create a future that ensures their own wellbeing—and that of the planet. Accenture Song expects to see more attempts to reshape society’s relationship with technology, but regulation needs to step up.

Organisations should be thoughtful about how their use of technology will fit into people’s lives and what it will demand of them. Brands that offer people greater choice in how they use technology to interact will become trusted partners, as customers will be able to regain a much-needed sense of agency.

5. Decade of deconstruction 

Traditional life paths are being rerouted by new limitations, necessities and opportunities, significantly shifting demographics. According to the survey, 50% of respondents said the pandemic and everything that happened since made them question their life choices. 48% said they planned less than a year into the future, or not at all. 29% said they delayed major life decisions more often in the past three years.

The survey results showed that the assumptions about what it means to be a particular age, gender, socio-economic segment, or career level simply aren’t useful to brands anymore. New mindsets are emerging, which will trigger a different perspective on products and services.

A life-centric approach enables brands to craft seamless experiences that challenge norms. Organisations should adapt fluidly, and capitalise on opportunities to support people’s unique paths.

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10 media trends marketers should take note of in 2024 

5 digital trends APAC marketers should look out for in 2024 

5 key trends of Gen Z and millennial behaviour towards metaverse HK marketers should know

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