R&T Trends & Insights: What’s new with consumers?
18th November | Trends and Insights Team back

R&T Trends & Insights: What’s new with consumers?

Are you ready to dive into the latest consumer behaviour trends? With the world around us continuing to evolve at pace, it’s more important than ever to keep up with what consumers are thinking, feeling and doing right now – and take a step back to consider the effect this might have on your comms plan. Okay then. All set? Here we go.


The Context

Collins Dictionary has named its word of 2022: “permacrisis” (defined as “an extended period of instability & insecurity”) – reflecting how the year has presented “challenge after challenge”. So, it’s no wonder that in the face of what feels like never-ending uncertainty, when it comes to nourishing ourselves, we’re turning to nostalgic favourites to evoke familiarity when the present & future feel anything but.

Millennials are most frequently looking to childhood favourites for comfort in stressful times, and there’s been a sizeable increase in searches for retro foods over the last three years, including classics like Neapolitan ice cream (+218%) and Battenburg cake (+93%).

And the sentiment extends beyond food. Social media darlings Aperol Spritz & Negronis are enjoying renewed fame online, having first become popular in the UK in the 70s & 80s respectively, showing how old can quickly become new again when introduced to a fresh-eyed digital audience.

The Upshot?

The urge to constantly evolve & chase ‘newness’ is a necessary temptation as we look to keep consumers interested & engaged, but don’t forget to look to the past for inspiration.

Revisiting iconic products, slogans or campaigns with an overt nod to the nostalgic appeal can be an effective play at a time when consumers themselves are yearning to connect with & seek comfort in the familiar.


The Context

After a mammoth, pandemic-induced spike, time spent online has returned to ‘normal’ levels. In fact, growth is slowing to a point where predictions are being made as to whether we’ve hit an ‘internet saturation point’ (which, you know, is a little questionable given the 5 billion of us still using it day in, day out…).

Anyway, the way we use – and more importantly feel – about the internet is changing. Over time, it’s moved from functional tool, designed & used to browse for information, to something much more. It impacts our wellbeing, with the number of people saying time spent online causes them anxiety up 11% since 2020 (highest amongst Gen Z & millennials).

There’s been a 14% increase in people taking steps to reduce their time online since Q2 2020, in part as individuals look to fight back against the attention recession that’s taken a collective hold on our ability to concentrate.

The Upshot?

So, the internet (obviously) isn’t going anywhere, what’s changing is the volume & frequency of time people are spending on the digital platforms brands use to connect.

High impact, wow-factor, ‘blink & you’ll miss it’ experiences online that demand immediate attention at a set time, versus a cumulation of eyeballs over time could be a way for brands to keep things fresh while not further fatiguing audiences.

And as people start to push back against the negative effects of mindless time spent online, the currency of more analogue experiences may begin to rise, with people valuing opportunities to reconnect IRL. That said, it pays for brands to challenge the idea that a campaign or launch has to be entirely digitally-led to be successful, when growing numbers of consumers are crying out for the opposite.


The Context

Books, coffee, razors, toilet paper, dinner boxes, CBD-infused tampons, household cleaning items, pet food, flowers, cheese & wine… There’s very little in 2022 that one cannot subscribe to.

The subscription boom was born out of necessity in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic but, almost three years on, subscriptions remain a mainstay of many of our lives – particularly when it comes to convenience.

Cleaning & personal items that previously left us in a stitch when we ran short now turn up on our doorsteps at regular intervals aligned with our personal usage, ensuring we’re never without loo roll, laundry tablets or a fresh razor again.

And that’s not to mention those that cater to, well, catering! Be that dinner boxes, fresh pasta, wine, pre-made cocktails & even pet food for our furry friends, as well as those that deliver pleasure, indulgence & self-care straight to our door.

The Upshot?

In a nutshell? Almost anything is subscribable! Consumers are on board & familiar with the format and, as we’ve made clear, willing to give all sorts of things a go.

And there’s freedom to think outside the box & tailor an offering that suits your product & customers’ needs – whether that’s to support a big launch, get product to the people in line with brand-relevant calendar moments, or piggyback off an existing subscriber service to maximise that reach.

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