Some trends looked years away from the mainstream before the COVID-19 pandemic but are now suddenly seeing accelerated mass adoption.
Analysis by TrendWatching—a consumer trend-watching firm—shows that the following 10 emerging consumer trends offer powerful early signals of what people will value and their priorities in a post-coronavirus world.
1- Virtual Experience Economy
The unprecedented pandemic and related restrictions have created a massive void in people’s lives. However, as TrendWatching says, new immersive technologies have provided an opportunity for people to get their experience-based status fixes from virtual experiences.
“Social media and esports are the obvious manifestations of how consumers accrue status in the virtual realm,” it said, adding that less competitive virtual experiences such as travel, retail, gatherings, and more are taking on new levels of meaning.
According to TrendWatching, the combination of two of Asia’s biggest digital waves, namely e-commerce and livestreaming, is spelling out the next direction for both online shopping and social connections: interactive, experiential, and in real-time.
“The recent crisis has seen the Chinese livestreaming market grow even bigger and faster than it has over the past few years, and this heady mix of entertainment, community, and commerce will raise e-commerce expectations going forwards on a global scale,” the firm says.
3- Virtual Companions
TrendWatching’s observations show that as people become accustomed to digital assistants and chatbots, their expectations will change and more people will be seeking out “virtual personalities” that can entertain, educate, befriend, and heal.
“The crisis will see people turning to these virtual companions, and once the genie is out of the bottle, these behaviors will persist once the crisis subsides,” the company noted.
4- Ambient Wellness
TrendWatching predicts that people will revert to less hygienic habits after the coronavirus pandemic is over. However, it says people’s desire to remain safe and well will be stronger than ever.
This will create a huge opportunity for “providers of physical spaces to embed health-boosting measures into the very spaces that their customers pass through, making staying healthy effortless,” the company added.
5- M2P (Mentor to Protégé)
According to TrendWatching, people will continue to spend “mindless” hours online but many will also yearn to use some of that time productively and will embrace platforms that connect them with experts, mentors, and teachers in their quest for self-improvement.
TrendWatching considers a-commerce a trend that has just received a powerful shot in the arm.
“Back in 2017/18, the increasing power and adoption of AI was the main driver of this trend. Now it’s the sudden sharp increase in demand for contact-free interactions converging with advancements in robotics that is enabling a new breed of automated commerce, IRL,” it said.
7- The Burnout
The COVID-19 experience has raised fears of a deep economic slump and caused people mental anguish.
That is why TrendWatching argues that any organization that can help improve people’s mental health will be warmly welcomed.
8- Open-Source Solutions
Open-source solutions or the act of sharing and even giving away innovative solutions to toughest shared problems is labeled by TrendWatching a “bold new frontier for sustainability”.
“The coronavirus is one of the most urgent transnational, cross-demographic problems in recent history, and as such it’s reminded people that the best organizations are those that collaborate generously with others,” it says.
9- Assisted Development
According to TrendWatching, one of the benefits of more time spent at home during the coronavirus outbreak is that many people have been prompted or even forced to learn some often long-neglected traditional life skills such as cooking.
“Trend watchers love branding things as ‘millennial’, but the recent growth of the on-demand economy has seen rising numbers of affluent urbanites outsource basic domestic tasks to gig workers. They’ll gladly hand back some of these when the crisis is over, but others will find they actually enjoy doing themselves,” the company noted.
10- Virtual Status Symbols
TrendWatching argues that providers who understand how people identify themselves and how they gain respect from society and their peers will be a powerful tool to gain insight into their behavior.
“Physical goods have long had a monopoly on status: they are scarce and expensive. Younger consumers and videogamers have long embraced virtual goods, but now expect new technologies (e.g. AR and blockchain), the growing desire for sustainable consumption and the corona crisis to converge and push the recognition that virtual goods can be genuine status symbols into other industries and demographics,” it says.