Where do we start, in 2021?
The corona pandemic changed our perception of the world and our sense of security. The pandemic has affected each of us, for better and for worse. As a result, our consumption habits have also changed. Things that seemed completely ordinary, such as lunch or shopping, no longer worked the same way. We had to adapt, and now our demands on services have grown. And there is no going back. In many ways, it’s also a good thing.
We now want to use the services as effortlessly as possible, but also safely. The use of time (and its consumption) has become more manageable, now that, for example remote work saves time on business trips. In the middle of all this uncertainty and turmoil, and we are now looking for comprehensive, flexible solutions as well as more sustainable consumption. The community spirit and fight back attitude created by the pandemic has been a rising mindset. I gathered four interesting b2c trends from the Euromonitor International report, that will have an impact on IT trends after the pandemic.
1. Responsible build back
Consumers see the post-pandemic period as a new beginning where companies begin to build the world in a new way, with a stronger focus on responsibility. Businesses should help shape the world in a more sustainable way by moving from a volume economy to a value-driven economy - not forgetting the social inequality and environmental damage.
Before the COVID-19, consumers´ biggest goal was to reduce plastic due to concerns about climate change. Now, during a pandemic, attention has shifted from slower-moving environmental threats to urgent social priorities. Consumers expect companies to protect the health of their employees, increase well-being while helping local communities. The health crisis will have a long-lasting impact on people’s needs and buying habits.
There is steady consumer demand for products with a strong sense of social responsibility. 69% of professionals expect consumers to be more concerned about sustainability than they were before COVID-19.
The IT trends are the responsibility and sustainable development
IT solutions are intended to promote sustainable development and the reuse of materials. Various circular economy solutions maximize the fight against climate change, but also make use of all resources. Digital solutions for the circular economy and sustainable development can only be built effectively with data. The creation of data capabilities and integrations is now crucial at the latest.
Consumers long for convenience and ease, and the digitalization accelerated by the pandemic has enabled services to move seamlessly online. Digital commerce offers a smooth shopping experience, but on the other hand, it's not personal. Therefore, companies also need to take into account the differences between the generations. As the study found that 68% of consumers over the age of 60 prefer speaking with human representatives rather than chatbots, for example.
Not all companies were ready for the digital leap caused by the lockdown, challenges arose when online store supply chains were unable to scale to larger volumes, customer service was congested, delaying deliveries. Companies are challenged to develop a flexible customer experience while maintaining business convenience.
The IT trends are automation and scalability
Increased volumes of online services require more automated processes in the background. Services need to be able to scale and update agilely to rapidly changing needs. Now at the latest, it is important to plan services holistically and understand all customer paths. Service design has become a necessary and valuable part of all IT projects.
In previous years, the report has highlighted consumers' interest in increasing their own well-being. However, the latest trend in the field of well-being is now safety and hygiene. Fear of infections and increased health awareness has grown the demand for hygiene products and are driving consumers towards contactless services to avoid exposure.
In 2020, the use of cash collapsed, and there is an increasing desire to use the services without contact, with local payments and various payment applications. Businesses were already preparing for the disappearance of cash, and the pandemic accelerated the addition of a variety of payment options.
The IT trend is to diversify services and guarantee the security
Service providers must take care of physical safety, hygiene, and as contactless solutions as possible. For example, Elixia uses the data to predict users’ gym peak times, public transportation has introduced cash-free payment services, and Wolt receives a contactless food delivery home. These practices will certainly remain in place even after a pandemic. Service providers therefore still have to cope with reforming the way they use services and products.
4. Outdoors and freedom
Outdoor activities have been trending already before the pandemic, but the health threats, restrictions on indoor mobility, and increased remoting have led to an increase in consumer interest in nature and leisure activities. There has even been a migration from densely populated cities to rural areas.
Consumers want to get back to the basics, and if the technology is available, then keep in touch online and participate virtually in events. Businesses have already taken into account consumers' longing for outdoor events; new innovations have emerged for restaurants, gym outdoor exercises, and concerts.
The increase in outdoor activities is also associated with the freedom to work outside of the office and at least partly without the time restrictions. Last year, we learned to remote from a pier, a cottage, or even at the foot of a mountain in Lapland. Remote work also requires technology to follow the demanding need, to enable seamless communication where ever.
The IT trends are platform technologies and advanced office technology
The integration of outdoor events will become essential for leisure and entertainment providers in order to attract new customers and maintain customer loyalty, which requires e.g. adoption of various streaming and platform technologies. The use of outdoor services and applications related to outdoor activities is further increasing, a concrete example being the 44% growth in the use of the Excursion map service (retkikartta.fi), relaunched by Anders in summer 2020.
Technological innovations also focus on facilitating remote work. Opportunities to create new routines for work-related communication, such as after work, accelerate technology for virtual socializing with colleagues. Security-related developments are also key focus areas in remote workstations, and advanced technology will help both consumers and businesses to maintain the same productivity regardless of the office environment.
We are now looking to the future with renewed eyes and we can see a lot of good in this year’s consumer trends. In particular, responsibility has become an even more important theme, which requires companies to pay attention to more sustainable solutions and more value-based business.
Digitalization enables much more flexible and diverse services for both consumers and businesses, so now is the high time to identify your own objectives and start the journey towards a new, more sustainable future.
IT is not a shortcut to happiness, because you have to carefully think about what you digitize and how. About this our Sales and Consulting Director Johanna Andersén wrote an amazing article: Sustainable software development starts with a NO, which sums up our mission of more sustainable digitalization.