In our work, we come across very versatile business areas and projects – starting from the smart selection of services for a brand-new entertainment centre to the positioning and launch of a new loaf of bread. In order to better understand consumers we conduct face-to-face interviews, because no one knows for sure what we will like in the future, but we definitely know how we have behaved in one way or another. We are always prompted by one specific need or wish – to make our life as simple and convenient as possible and to experience and taste something new from time to time or to belong somewhere and so on. We as service designers help our clients notice patterns, catch trends in the air and put together the bigger picture.
Seven consumer trends towards the end of the year based on interviews
Trend 1 – Premium-low budget balance
As borders open up, our jobs are no longer bound to one country. Increased cooperation among international teams has made travelling a day-to-day affair and air transport an elementary means of getting about. The cheapest offer is good enough and low-cost airlines have realised this only too well. Business Class will never take you to your destination faster and we do not actually need extra comfort (at least within Europe). However, the difference becomes important with regard to where we eat and sleep at our destination. When teams work on a project, they do so full-throttle. This in turn sets higher demands on rest and recovery – in other words, your pillow has to be a proper one and your bed should not be squeaky. And breakfast as the starter to the day has to be first-class. One IT company eliminated a 4-star hotel from its list of accommodation not because of its beds, but low-quality food. It is fine to have street food in London during a busy day and also to eat at a fine restaurant the same night with the same company. As far as no compromises are made in taste and what they offer leaves an impression, everything is balanced.
Trend 2 – Short breaks
More intense and project-based work with short deadlines requires extra effort from today’s employees. In the name of a certain goal and in a team, it has become especially common in the IT sector. Relaxation after a project has become common, too – either speeding on an ATV through the woods with the team or spending a longer family weekend at a spa ‘out of the coverage area’. This means that long, all-in-one-go summer vacations are gradually being replaced by shorter breaks – more is better as far as recharging goes.
Trend 3 – Experiences
There is hardly anyone left who doesn’t knowingly pursue new experiences. Our expectations are extremely high, as anything is possible. Disappointment is also common, because those who offer the experience tend not to rise to the occasion. Why? Because they have not defined what experience means for their customers. It could be a written compliment sent by a waiter at a restaurant, a blind dinner where our sense sight is switched off, or something else.
Trend 4 – Insta attack
The spread of smartphones has been rapid and noteworthy. When something reaches the general public, habits and demands also begin to change. Event managers already expect interior designers to design an Instagram corner in public spaces – or something similar against which you will recognise media coverage in an instant: “Oh, that’s where they are!”
Trend 5 – Equal partner
Being in a hurry and surrounded by an avalanche of information, we as users value more and more the opportunity to turn to a specialist who understands what we actually need and can give us advice. Somehow it is often the case that if we plan to renovate our home, we have to make everything clear to ourselves from scratch, because the so-called specialist shrugs and says “I don’t know, I just work here”. Or another example from event management, where content does not need a building, but the building needs content. Festival and concert organisers prefer partners who are willing to offer their own team, media support, budget and ideas. On an equal basis.
Trend 6 – Immediate results
“Why can’t I see the results straight away?” customers often complain nowadays. They have expectations, but probably not feasible ones. This often has to do with insufficient information. If customers are being provided with the relevant information at the right time, when they actually need it, they will be more patient and know what to expect. Their expectations will not be too high and they will be more satisfied with the end result. Let’s take for instance beauty parlours, where technological miracles have been invented and introduced in order to speed up the results. What will this technology do to me exactly? Is it as safe as is claimed and significantly better than a classical manual facial? Who knows? We as consumers certainly often don’t. But what a great opportunity to make something differently, be more understandable, customer friendly, honest.
Trend 7 – Work-life balance
Millennials are a generation who challenge the old social order – they were not born into this world to be in an office from 9 to 5 for 40 years in a row. To work in order to live, or to live in order to work? Rather listen to your heart, do what you really like doing, where you like doing it and who you like doing it with. Or another option: you don’t need to be a hippie – you can work for any corporation while living on Saaremaa, visiting your parents, keeping the Keri Lighthouse keeper company or from home in order to avoid traffic jams. As long as your Internet connection is fast and functioning and all agreements hold, everyone will benefit from effective time management.