How consumer trends enrich your products

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Nikki Manager Strategy Operations

10 Jun 2016  ·  7 min read

You might think that consumer research is boring… We’re here to prove you wrong! This post shows you how to use consumer trends to create products that add value.

We talked about the way we organise and use user interviews in a previous post, but this time we wanted to go deeper into something that’s even more central to our methodology: researching and implementing consumer trends.

We always aim to design our solutions with the end user front and center. Because of this, consumer research has always been a logical first step within our methodology. We use it as a starting point both when designing a completely new product or service, and when we’re revamping an existing one.

Why do we put so much stock in good research? Because while intuition is a very useful tool in a creative business, having real insight into existing trends and mentalities will help you create products and services that really hit their mark. Shaping your solutions with these trends in mind will make sure they’re meaningful, add value and make sense.

Our methodology

We use consumer trends as the starting point both when designing B2C and B2B solutions – everyone who will come into contact with our solutions is a “consumer”, and many trends affect both personal and professional consumers – and therefore the way personal and professional solutions are created.

Whether we’re aware of them or not, big societal trends influence all of us. They drive our behaviours and expectations, changing the way we interact with solutions,. Understanding the bigger forces in play gives us a better understanding of what our (potential) consumers are actually looking for in a brand.

Don’t forget: when it comes to meeting customer’s expectations, you’re always competing with the Googles and Apples of the world.

The same holds true when we’re working to redefine an existing solution. Taking a fresh look at the facts helps us approach the project and evaluate it with the right mindset.

And because we like to share, we selected three of the most important, broad trends that you should be aware of when designing… just about anything digital.

I want it now: Intent-driven micro-moments

1 out of 3 smartphone users has purchased from a company or brand they didn’t originally have in mind, because it provided the right information at the right time.

Mobile devices have effectively conquered the world, and this technology has changed what we expect of brand. Because it’s empowered consumers to act upon any impulse at any given moment, it has fractured the traditional consumer journey as we know it into
hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments.

In short: everyone’s expectations are high while patience is low. As time has become increasingly more valuable, today’s consumers expect instant gratification.

These micro-moments allow our mobile devices to play a big role in our decision-making process when buying something. Retailers are no longer defining the path to purchase, since customers are not following the same rules of the road they used to. For instance, 82% of smartphone users have used that phone to influence their choices while they were already in a physical store!

This change in shopping habits bring us seamlessly to the next trend: if you want people to buy your products, services, or whatever it is you offer…

Trust and relevance are king

65% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites or apps help them easily find answers to their questions.

The quality, relevance, and usefulness of the content and functionality you serve your consumer are more important than ever. Building trust in consumer relationships has always been important, but today, it’s more pronounced than ever before. Offer people the information they want, when they need it, and be transparent – this will set your digital platforms apart from the pack.

A few numbers to back that statement:

  • 50% of consumers will abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

  • 58% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites or apps allow them to make purchases quickly.

  • And 77% of online consumers would trust businesses more if they explained how they are using personal information to improve their online experience.

Apart from building trust, there’s a second aspect that consumers are expecting more and more: personalisation.

Today’s leading consumer platforms try to give their customers a personalized experience by aggregating and enriching data. The technology to take this data-driven approach to the next level is gaining more and more ground. Complex software that can take pieces of information from millions of social profiles and piece them together to form a coherent story is becoming increasingly efficient and widespread. A great example you might know is Spotify’s popular Discover Weekly feature: a curated playlist in every user’s Spotify account, comprised of music you might like based on your listening habits.

Ain’t nobody got time: frictionless convenience

You don’t have mobile customers and desktop customers, online and offline customers. You just have customers.

In line with the growing need for a personal approach, consumers today expect to access services when and where they want to. Everyone’s lives have become busier and more complicated, so expectations have shifted. Consumers are now demanding experiences that are convenient, accessible and seamless.

In terms of online platforms, they have also come to expect zero-waiting experiences. If your platform is not fast and performant, you’ll pay the price: 29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs (for example, they can’t find information or it’s too slow). And nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.

Luckily, the opposite is also true: improving performance, even by tiny increments, can be hugely beneficial. The most famous recent example may be Amazon: they increased revenue by 1% for every 100ms of website loading time improvement.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the consumer platforms that are most successful are the ones built and maintained entirely from their customer’s point of view. This means they adhere to the points we touched on before – speed, convenience, relevance – but also that they are present on whatever channel their customer uses.

Successful brands can no longer afford to treat their different channels, online and offline as a separate or distinct businesses.

Even the traditional distinction between online and offline is losing its relevance: research shows that 86% of shoppers use at least 2 channels (think physical store, catalogue, online store via website or app, etc.) while 25% of them uses 4 to 5 channels to shop.

So, what can you take away from all of this?

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, or whether you’re B2B or B2C-oriented – consumer’s expectations have shifted dramatically in the last decade. Mobile and digital technology have transformed the complete shopping and support experience in a variety of industries, and consumers expect the same level of convenience everywhere.

There are amazing opportunities for companies across the board to use these changes to create better, more user-centric experiences!

To close off, we’ll share a few relevant pointers that we often address in our business development sessions. Firstly, it’s important to be in the right mindset when shaping digital solutions – don’t get stuck on the capabilities or restrictions you’re used to. Apart from that, shaping and maintaining the best possible solutions also often entails quite a bit of simplification. Legacy processes have a tendency to have grown incredibly complicated over the years, in a way that doesn’t jibe with modern consumers’ mindset.

And finally, it’s crucial to think in terms of purpose: each channel you use has to be structured and defined by your understanding and anticipation of the needs of your (future) customers.

Now let’s go create some cool stuff…

Don’t just want to take our word for it? You can take a look at our source material! For this article, we used recent research by Google, Forester, Janrain, Forbes, Akamai, Mashable, Deloitte, and PwC.