Pandemic Lens: Conscious choices and ethics-based shopping

Ethical Shopping | Trendbible

What are the key lifestyle changes driven by the pandemic? Will this permanently change things, or will it become a distant memory? 

These are just some of the questions you have asked us and which we’ve explored in our Pandemic Lens series. Our eight forecasts are largely rooted in existing consumer insight and research but with a pandemic lens applied, meaning they have solid foundations and are likely to be enduring shifts rather than fleeting moments in time.

Conscious Choices

Lots is still uncertain right now, but one thing we know is that for the next six to twelve months, consumers will be united by a sense of financial uncertainty as we observe job losses, business closures and industry downturns. Whilst consumers will be looking for feel-good moments and activities, they won’t necessarily be indulgent in the traditional sense and will be increasingly conscious about their consumption habits.

Our trend research suggests conscious consumerism and values-based shopping will escalate. While it might be easy to assume that customers will not be spending at all, what we actually see is that they are simply more careful about the value they get for their money. 

While not all retailers have experienced the Q3 bounce back expected by economists, homeware retailers (especially those who can sell online) are showing positive results amidst a boost in demand as people invest in their homes. In the coming months, we will explore some of the macro trends within Conscious Choices, starting today with Ethical Shopping.

Consumer Insight – Ethical Shopping

Shopping habits during the pandemic have shown how strong the trend towards ethics-based shopping is. Throughout lockdown, shoppers continued to demand sustainability, accountability and better ethics from businesses. In fact for many consumers, forced isolation and increased time spent online has driven even more awareness of social and ethical issues. ASOS, Boohoo and Amazon all faced boycotts this spring in the face of poor working conditions and exploitation of workers. Customers armed with a wealth of online information are simply more aware of the value of their pound or dollar to the business they buy from.

Moving forward, sustainability and ethical credentials will be employed as one method to regain customers’ trust and wallets. Brands and retailers who knew what the ‘right things to do’ were but felt it was riskier to push the button on them, will now have no choice.

Support What You Value

Frugal customers who are more aware of the value of their pound or dollar want to see it go to a ‘worthy’ cause. There are ample opportunities for smaller local brands to tap into engaged demographics supporting causes that they care about – #supportlocal #buyblackowned.

Meaningful Purchases

This growing trend will have significant implications for brands who rely on habitual shopping and will benefit those who have products which tell a story. We will see a much more purposeful approach to shopping, particularly in the gifts & greetings sector. People need to know where a product has come from; who designed it, who manufactured it, who distributes it. Customers carefully consider what a purchase says about their ethics, not only how the product performs.

Inclusive Design

The design world is set for major disruption over the coming years. Not just in terms of needing to be radically inclusive in terms of race, ethnicity and heritage, but also gender and fluidity of identity. In the next 12 months, diversity will be expected to be more than a ‘nice to have’ and tokenism will not cut it in the eyes of the consumer. Expect to see a huge shift in expectations, to which consumers will hold brands accountable and brands in turn, will need to decide how and where to come down on increasingly polarised ethical issues.

Look out for our next post as part of our Pandemic Lens series, where we will be exploring Hyper-Essentialism and what that means for future consumer behaviours and attitudes.


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