Preparing for tomorrow’s consumers today: The future of consumer markets

Author PwC

This 2021 report from PwC presents five key global trends in consumer markets, that are predicted to shape consumer behaviour in a post-Covid19 world. Some of these were already in motion before the pandemic hit – but have since been further accelerated by it. It includes: omnichannel and experience-rich retail; socially-conscious consumerism; digital supply chains; sustainable and healthier foods; and environmental, social, and governance focus. The resource can be used to help plan the high streets of the future.

Date added 10 May 2021
Last updated 10 May 2021

*This resource is about consumer behaviour. It is not specifically about the High Street, but has been included in response to requests for more studies/information about this topic, as well as linking to retail offer and experience priorities for High Street vitality and viability*

This PwC report presents five key global trends in consumer markets, that are predicted to shape consumer behaviour in a post-Covid19 world. The resource can, therefore, be used to help shape the high streets of the future, today, given the importance of forming evidence-informed visions and strategies to plan, design, and manage places which meet the needs of local communities and visitors. The five trends covered in the report are summarised below.

Five consumer market trends

1. The store of the future

The report argues that retail stores of the future will need to be omnichannel, fusing together both physical and digital service and experiences to meet changing consumer behaviour around digital consumption. It also explains how consumers are increasingly expecting 'frictionless retail', by providing seamless and quick transaction processes through technologies such as contactless payment and delivery options. Further, data presented suggests consumers may still have concerns over health and safety in store environments going forwards (31% ranked in top 3 physical retailing concerns), which will have to be considered in delivering a high quality consumer experience.

2. Socially-conscious consumerism

It is suggested in the report that the trend around socially-conscious consumerism will continue beyond the pandemic, with consumers choosing trusted brands that align with their values. Data presented highlights that issues around the environment and inclusivity are important to people, and can shape their consumer behaviour choices, with over 50% of respondents in a recent PwC study indicating that sustainability is valued in their consumption choices.

3. The digital supply chain

The report indicates that ‘smart’ technologies will increasingly feature in the supply chains of the future; becoming more self-regulating and responsive to societal and consumer changes. Speedy product fulfilment is becoming ever more important. It is also suggested that supply chains of the future will also be more consumer-centric, making decisions based on more fluid data and insight through tech ‘touchpoints’.

4. The future of food

As the authors explain, even before the pandemic consumers were becoming more conscious of the health and sustainability of food products. In relation, we are also seeing the increased consumption of plant-based foods, which PwC predicts will persist and intensify as consumers continue to care about the environment, as well as issues around reducing packaging waste, supply chain transparency, and fair labour practices.

5. Focus on environment, sustainability and governance (ESG)

Finally, PwC reports that the focus on how businesses can contribute to wider societal resilience will become increasingly important. Organisations will need to contribute to a ‘greener recovery’ from the Covid-19 pandemic, by ensuring more environmentally-sustainable practices are in place to help tackle climate change.