Brands need to acknowledge the shift to values-based consumption

Accenture finds the agency consumers have is creating a wave of relationship change.
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The pandemic has caused a shift in people’s relationship with consumerism, tech, the planet and work.

Those are among the insights from Accenture’s 15th Fjord Trends report, which predicts that COVID challenges will continue to push businesses to rethink their approach to design, innovation and growth.

“Don’t underestimate the degree of relationship change we are seeing — or the role of business in responding to it,” warns Mark Curtis, head of global innovation and thought leadership at Accenture Interactive.

Fjord Trends, which is focused on customer behavior and its resulting impact on society, culture and business for the coming year, is crowdsourced from across Accenture Interactive’s global network of 2,000+ designers and innovators in more than 40 locations.

According to the report, there’s a growing sense of agency people have over how they consume, relate to others, and re-enter a post pandemic workplace.

For example, almost half of Accenture’s online focus group participants said they are ready to stop or have already stopped buying as much clothing, footwear and furniture in the name of sustainability.

And values-driven consumption continues to rise.

In fact, sustainably marketed products and services outperformed their conventional counterparts across 36 categories in 2020, the report notes, while in 2021, they outgrew consumer packaged goods as a total.

Accenture believes that designing for the balance between affordability and sustainability could be the next big opportunity for brands to innovate. Ultimately, it states, many consumers will likely weigh up the good of the planet with their families’ basic necessities when making purchasing decisions.

Supply chain shortages might seem like a temporary challenge, especially around the holidays, but Accenture believes the impact will persist and lead to a shift in “abundance thinking” – built on availability, convenience and speed – to greater consciousness about the environment.

Meanwhile, caring remains top of mind – both in terms of self-care and caring for others – creating opportunities and challenges for employers and brands of all stripes. The responsibilities around caring will continue to be prioritized, the report notes, as about 73% of people around the world now consider “wellness” an essential element of any brand’s strategy. As Accenture notes: “visibly caring for customers builds brand trust.”

For example, Unilever has adjusted its communications to shift emphasis from looking better to feeling better, including removing the word “normal” from beauty and personal care brand communications. Nike has been coaching athletes and customers on the importance of self-care through its website.

“As consumers overhaul all of their relationships, brands will be faced with two big responsibilities: taking care of the world today while also building its future in a way that’s good for the planet, for business and for society,” says David Droga, CEO and creative chairman of Accenture Interactive.

Lastly, the metaverse is going to shift culture and digital behaviour expectations, and success is predicated on brands’ understanding of their customers and how/if they exist in the new world.

One of the defining characteristics of the metaverse is the opportunity for people to decide how they present themselves there, and is less about unicorns and dragons people might associate with a platform that resembles the world of video games, and more about escaping the limits of physical walls to spend time in a virtual space.

And it doesn’t necessarily have to be the Meta-owned metaverse that brands stay aware of. Use of Roblox Studio, which blends gaming creation and social networking, has skyrocketed, Accenture points out.