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The revolt against screens or AI fantasies are some of the key factors for the Spanish consumer in 2024

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After years of exhaustion and distrust of the future, consumers are beginning to show signs of activation: albeit timid, there are signs of a more proactive and expansive attitude. This is one of the conclusions of Trends Review 2024the annual consumption trends document prepared by The cocktailthe strategic consulting firm that leads the transformation of companies.

This document identifies seven key trends that will shape users’ relationships with brands and services in the same year, based on the company’s synthesis of nearly 300 consumer studies conducted in 2023.

How to get back on the path of desire

Desire is inherent in humans and became apparent in the era of expansion of consumer society one of the most important tools for creating a connection between consumers and brands. The accumulation of crises has created a context that has led companies to opt for other solutions to create this bond (immediate gratification, focus on functionality and direct benefits), which, although relevant, result in a weaker relationship.

Although we are not yet in a period of growth, there is some recovery of some keys that contribute to the expansion of desire (a broader vision of the future than a few years ago, some “energetic” recovery). Thus, its stimulation can again be a tool for creating a connection with the consumer. Of course, it will be a different desire than that of the golden age of consumer society, with other objects of interest and other tools to satisfy it. Those brands that succeed in recognizing these new paths to desirability will have a powerful differentiation tool.

The revolt against screens

The relationship and perception of the digital environment has deteriorated. The consumer is no longer just captivated, but is held captive by addictive practices and an impoverishment of the browsing experience that depends on the transmission of data. This satiation leads to a loss of spontaneity, connection, and desire. With this in mind, users choose either an inconvenient usage model or a premium business model based on privacy, self-management and control over their relationship with brands.

This creates a possible work area in which New players could emerge to address the current dissatisfaction with the digital experiencewith a design proposal that focuses on the user and not on captivating them.

“Brands need to offer an experience that doesn’t necessarily make the consumer feel trapped, but is friendly, clean and calm, using even smarter formats to mobilize and engage with the user.”It says María Herranz, Insights Manager at The Cocktail Analysis.

The fantasy of artificial intelligence

In this moment of sensitivity and saturation of screens we find artificial intelligence. Consumers are concerned about the centrality and ubiquity that technology can take in their lives. For this reason, It moves between the fantasy of how brands can optimize their relationship through AI and at the same time the ghosts of how it could end up dominating the user.

It is important to optimally manage the integration of AI into processes to achieve its full potential, while taking into account how this affects the relationship with the customer. In the field of communication and attention, this technology is clearly becoming an ally, where personalization improves the experience. But especially in the area of ​​the product and service, the user needs to feel like they dominate and have control over their decisions.

Home: from the palace to the fountain

During the pandemic, consumers invested significantly in improving their home and making it their sanctuary. The price increase in all areas will increase consumers’ awareness of consumption at home. For example, according to INE data: Basic products became more than 10% more expensiveHowever, restaurant prices only increased by 5.9% compared to the previous year. Thus, the increase inside and outside the house was asymmetrical. For this reason, there is a growing awareness that staying at home means spending money, and in this sense, key strategies are emerging that brands can activate to connect with this moment around the home: promoting formats that help, use and consumption to control, manage better, control expenses tools and solutions or recommendations for good resource management.

The physical space

This environment is proving to be the place to disconnect from the digital world – in Spain, people spend 35% of their rest time using the Internet – but the consumer does this through more productive, stimulating and compressed experiences. Brands can and must conquer physical space to connect with consumers beyond gratification.

The gap between generations

Age has always been a relevant variable, but with one factor that moderates its impact compared to others: the future. While it was expected that class, gender or national identity would be maintained throughout life and correct the generation gap, this is no longer the case. The change in the socioeconomic model from 2007 prevented the younger age groups from capturing social wealth: age, which was previously a segmentation variable, is now a conflict variable.

Organizations can still establish a certain dialogue with older generations because they have been socialized in the classic model of relationship with brands: they have been raised in the perspective of consumption as a tool and indicator of success, they show more positive emotions and fewer fears, lower media saturation and more intensive TV consumption.

However, through digitalization, brands are creating a relationship model that is acceptable for young people but uncomfortable for older groups who currently have the most purchasing power. Therefore, it is still appropriate to opt for the classic communication model of organizations.

Breaking inertia

We find ourselves in a time where major social issues such as feminism or sustainability are relevant but have lost their ability to attract attention. The purpose that companies define for themselves is their great storytelling, and that has also lost its viability. However, companies should not abandon it, as it leads to organizational alignment and talent loyalty and, even if it creates less attraction at that moment, still lays the foundation for a harmonious relationship with the customer. The challenge is to “fill” the organization with meaningful actions that flesh out that purpose and ensure that the organization’s grand narrative is realized in all areas of the relationship with the consumer.

“The intention of Trends Review is to gain an overview of the evolution of the Spanish consumer, work from their perspective and provide brands with tools to understand the upcoming evolution of their customers.” explains Felipe Romero, partner at The Cocktail.

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