From COVID-19 survivor’s guilt to eco-anxiety: Control, enjoyment and ethics are all expected to play a role in consumer trends for 2022. 

That’s according to Mintel, which recently released three trends set to impact global consumer markets in 2022

Simon Moriarty, director of Mintel Trends, EMEA, comments on how the trends were developed, as well as how they will impact markets, brands, and consumers in 2022 and beyond.

1. In Control

The first trend focuses on consumers’ sense of control. 

In times of uncertainty, consumers crave a sense of control over their lives. Brands can deliver the information and options that consumers need to feel like they’re in the driver’s seat.    

“Feelings of precariousness and financial insecurity both created, and exaggerated, by the pandemic mean that consumers are looking for a sense of control over every aspect of their lives,” Moriarty explained. “But misinformation is making it harder to carry out the necessary research to make informed decisions. Consumers need clarity, transparency, flexibility and options to make decisions that suit their individual changing needs and circumstances.”

He added that “brands will need to work harder to deliver reliable information and balance censorship and authenticity.”

“The race for the fastest delivery will evolve to focus on being more flexible, giving consumers more control over when products arrive to fit around their schedules or to match their other specific needs,” Moriarty said. “Consumers’ desire to know potential outcomes will manifest in the development of predictive technologies that can anticipate adverse events. From diseases to likely death dates to relationship outcomes using compatibility profiles, technology will evolve to grant consumers the power to plan with peace of mind.”

2. Enjoyment Everywhere

The second consumer trend focuses on enjoyment. 

Having endured lockdown, consumers are eager to break out of their confines and explore, play and embrace novel experiences, both virtually and in the "real" physical world.

“Consumers are seeking sources of joy as the continuing pandemic and other local and global crises have caused them anxiety and stress,” Moriarty said. “Many may be feeling a kind of ‘survivor’s guilt’ and, as a result, brands are recognizing the importance of uplifting people by giving them permission to feel happiness once again.”

He went on to say that “while the stress caused by the pandemic may no longer be central to consumer needs for fun and escapism, they will continue to seek enjoyment and playfulness.”

“As brand interactions through campaigns, apps and transactions take on more and more gamified elements in response to consumer interest, expect to also see pushback against it and the instant gratification it offers,” Moriarty said. “This tendency will rise from consumers taking a more mindful approach to pleasure and enjoyment.”

3. Ethics Check

The third and final trend focuses on ethics. 

While many brands have made their voices heard on controversial topics, consumers want to see measurable progress against their goals.

“Consumer demand for, and expectations of, brands’ ethical commitments are evolving,” Moriarty said. “They have moved beyond simply wanting brands to ‘be ethical’ and are demanding to see measurable, transparent and consistent actions from those they choose to support. Consumers will look beyond a brand’s achievements and strengths; businesses will need to be transparent about their weaknesses, too, where and why they fail and how they plan to address these issues in future.”

He explained that “all the transparency in the world doesn’t necessarily help consumers to understand the impact of a brand, which is why it’s key to use metrics that accurately reflect the problems brands are trying to solve.”

“If a company isn’t properly measuring what they aim to fix or change, it’s difficult to determine whether progress is being made, let alone communicate that progress in a way that consumers will understand,” Moriarty said.