Wisconsin BBB: Five consumer trends businesses should follow in 2021

Milwaukee, Wis. – At the beginning of a new year, we tend to look back at our previous year — and this one has been a doozy. 2020 has changed all of us in one way or another, and as we look forward to 2021, we need to acknowledge that it has likely changed our customers as well. It would be unwise to simply push forward with our old tactics, not considering the changes that this year has brought to all of us.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the businesses that are able to quickly adapt to the changing times are able to thrive. It’s about taking lemons and making lemonade — despite the difficult circumstances, you need to see what you have to offer, what your customers need, and find where the two intersect.

These 5 consumer trends are prevalent across all industries, and savvy business owners will take these into consideration as they plan for a new year.

1. Focus on Health and Safety

This year, the world was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and health and safety became paramount. As consumers were allowed to return to their favorite businesses, it became increasingly important that the companies they were visiting were clear on their health and safety precautions. In fact, a recent study showed that 26% of those surveyed would show preference to a brand that they knew would take safety seriously and not take any unnecessary risks.

In order to quell any concerns your customers may have about safety, plainly publish the measures you are taking to ensure their safety, both in-store and on your website. Even more importantly — be sure to follow them. If a company says that their employees will be cautious, but the reality shows otherwise, it will be hard to earn back that trust.

2. Socially-Conscious

Activism has made an impact this year, and companies who don’t take a stance are left in the dust. In fact, 90% of customers want to buy from a company that supports social and environmental issues.

In the past, companies usually elected to remain silent about social issues, not wanting to offend anyone. However, remember that in some cases, saying nothing can be a statement all on its own. Show your customers your values, whether it is on widespread social issues or by making a difference in your local community. Businesses have power, and consumers want to see them using that power for good.

A great place to start if you haven’t already is to become Accredited with the BBB. Being able to show that you are an Accredited business will explicitly illustrate that you are a trustworthy company built on integrity, honesty and transparency. Learn more about how to get Accredited here.

3. Personalized Communications

The modern consumer expects a much more personalized experience when working with a company, whether they are online or in person. In fact, 80% of shoppers only shop with companies that personalize the experience. And personalization goes beyond just the shopping experience — marketers reported a 760% increase in email revenue when they began using personalized or segmented email campaigns.

How can you make every customer feel special? For starters, don’t send the same emails to everyone on your mailing list. You should have an email workflow that sends emails to customers tailored to where they are on the buyer’s journey. For example, if someone has received your services in the past, you might want to send an email to encourage them to schedule another service — but this email wouldn’t be appropriate for someone who has only visited your website and not booked any services. Personalize your communications so that you can market to your customers based on where they are with your brand.

4. At-Home Experience

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the world have been spending more time at home. Even as businesses are starting to open their doors again, many consumers have gotten used to shopping from home and will likely continue to do so. But it’s important to note that the standard has risen for online shopping — consumers want the experience to be as accessible and easy as an in-person shopping experience.

In order to shift your offerings to meet this perspective, provide simple options to allow your customers to peruse your goods and services at home. This could be in the form of offering online consultations, providing ways for customers to virtually “try on” products at home, or expanding curbside pickup options. In fact, 53% of consumers found curbside pickup to be vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you don’t currently have a way for your customers to have that in-person touch at home, then innovate and find a way to make them feel just as welcome in your virtual storefront as they would in person.

5. Provide Value

Consumers are looking for brands that add value to their lives and to the world around them. This can take many forms — perhaps as a downloadable how-to guide or providing earth-friendly products. Providing value goes beyond just promoting your product or service; it’s about having insightful content and conversations that push to a sale that then expands to a loyal customer base. After all, 84% of consumers make purchases after reading about a product or service on a blog.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and figure out what matters to them, and see how you can help. The more you are concerned about their needs over your bottom line, the more you won’t have to worry about the latter.

Moving Ahead

If 2020 has taught business owners anything, it’s how to pivot. This year has been full of ups and downs, and business owners have taken these changes in stride. Small businesses have adapted and built a strong digital presence, which helps them to be present where their customers are. This ability to adapt will only continue to help in 2021, as you continue to improve, keeping your customers’ needs top of mind.

Read more business tips from BBB

Learn how to get BBB Accredited.For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.