THE POST-PANDEMIC CONSUMER
Following the upheaval of 2020, we’ve shifted into a new, unexpected phase of creativity driven by the urgent need to pivot our customer engagement strategies. It begs the question: what will consumer behavior look like in the next couple of years, and how do companies chart course for this new horizon?
According to research group WGSN’s white paper on the Future Consumer 2023, socio-economic behavior will be heavily influenced by post-pandemic consumer sentiments such as a warped sense of time, economic uncertainty, need to reconnect, hope, and desire for new experiences. They predict four main categories of customers to emerge in 2023.
We’ve summarized these consumer profiles below, along with our own packaging insights for each:
CONSUMER CATEGORY 1: THE PREDICTORS
Worn thin by the tumultuous events of 2020, this consumer segment is doing their best to make it day by day. They are easily distracted and overly cautious in their spending, even if they’re financially sound. They are quick to abandon their online shopping carts, especially if too many steps are required or time passes to allow them to feel guilty about making a purchase. They appreciate strategies that incorporate predictability, such as the ability to sign up for pre-orders, subscriptions and auto-refills.
PACKAGING TRANSLATION: Ease-of-use is a key ingredient in designing packaging for the Predictors. We see this as subscription-friendly packaging that is easy to open, straightforward in its design (with wayfinding information or collateral where necessary), and stress-free in its disposal (easy to disassemble and – preferably – recycle). You may even consider including a coupon or QR code that makes reordering, pre-ordering, or future purchases a breeze.
We see a lot of these elements in Burst Oral Care’s shipping box, which opens with an uplifting message, presents the product in a clean and organized layout, and includes a recurring shipment of whitening strips with every purchase. A printed QR code makes it easy for the customer to continue the buyer’s journey digitally, encouraging future brand engagement.
CONSUMER CATEGORY 2: THE NEW ROMANTICS
This group is fueled by a deep need to reconnect with their emotions and a sense of community. They crave in-person, authentic experiences to help combat screen time and increased workloads. They enjoy the art of the ritual and seek ways to slow down time and maximize their experiential input. Mental and emotional hygiene is also important to this cohort, who value a stress-free lifestyle.
PACKAGING TRANSLATION: We see this trend playing out in practical and sustainable, yet sensorial unboxing experiences. Without over-packaging, think of ways to incorporate the senses through sight, touch, smell, and sound. Tone of voice can also be used in your packaging design as a way to guide the New Romantics in their quest to savor every moment of their purchasing experience, and feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
Callaly’s Teen Period Kit is not only beautiful to look at, but includes a multi-faceted, personalized experience with wayfinding design elements for the customer. It also tells a great sustainability story.
CONSUMER CATEGORY 3: THE IMPOSSIBLES
Angry at the fallouts surrounding racial injustice, political polarization, and the climate crisis, the Impossibles are all about re-defining what’s possible by taking things into their own hands. They utilize technology and peer groups to organize and impact change at a community level. This manifests itself in community-centric supply chains and a push for local or values-based patronage of and involvement in businesses.
PACKAGING TRANSLATION: Sustainable, ethical sourcing is imperative if you’re marketing to this audience. It’s important to err on the side of transparency by disclosing information about your supply chain, materials used, and ways to properly dispose of your packaging after use. Or better yet, you can invest in packaging that is reusable or encourage reuse through a returns process. QR codes are a great way to direct customers to a website with more information, if room is not available in print.
Fashion brand JAN ‘N JUNE is committed to refusing plastic and reusing their shipping boxes whenever possible to reduce waste. Their message to consumers? “Our cardboard boxes are made from recycled paper. We are reusing them as often as possible. So, sorry if the box you get won’t be the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen – but the inner values count and the environment thanks.”
CONSUMER CATEGORY 4: THE CONDUCTORS
The speed of innovation and adaptation required to survive in 2020 was nothing shy of intense. For the Conductors, this environment was welcomed with open arms. Multi-tasking and multitalented, this group desires new experiences and highly sensorial moments. You’ll meet them not on the internet, but in the Metaverse, “a shared digital realm that will drive culture and design, enabling new modes of expression and experience.” This new, inter-connected, digital space will impact how consumers communicate, play, shop, learn and work. Conductors are less about brand-loyalty and more focused on peer and product-based reviews.
PACKAGING TRANSLATION: If you want to resonate with this group, create a packaging experience that has the potential to “go viral.” Think outside the box in terms of unexpected shapes, materials, or color schemes. Innovative re-purposing of your packaging can also be a way to grab attention and inspire interaction. Or if you’re interested in taking it a step further, consider incorporating virtual reality into your business model to link the physical to the digital realm.
Burberry is positioning itself well for this type of consumer through its investment in Tencent – an app that provides a virtual shopping experience that goes beyond even the store itself. According to Dezeen, “All the products have QR codes, which can be scanned to display more information and visual hints for styling the project – and give the user more points for unlocking content.”