10 Customer Behavior Trends to Keep an Eye on This Year and Beyond

With technology continuing to change how people live and work, organizations need to prioritize opportunities that better meet evolving customer needs.

Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.
Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.

The business landscape has changed drastically over the past year. While companies have come to expect that people's needs will shift constantly based on changing life situations, the customers of 2021 are remarkably different from their predecessors. Increased online shopping options and new methods for connecting virtually are just a few examples of how technology has altered the ways in which customers live and work.

Though many businesses have been able to quickly adapt to meet the needs of modern consumers, the convenience and access that technology brings will be vital from now on. Leaders will need to keep a close eye on customer behavior trends to ensure they are on top of the factors impacting the industry. Below, the members of Newsweek Expert Forum share the customer behavior trends that are likely to impact businesses from now on.

1. Conscientious Consumerism

The pandemic has fundamentally changed what consumers value, want and need. Expect conscientious consumerism, including quality over quantity and shared experiences over objects. - Arturo Elizondo, Clara Foods

2. A Need for Authenticity

One customer behavior trend to watch for this year is authenticity. This trend revolves around a customer knowing what they need and then sharing that with you, believing that you will meet their need and not reject them. The trend of authenticity helps you identify shared values and meet your customers on a human level. - Barbara Rubel, Griefwork Center, Inc.

3. Increased Need for Human Connection

Relationship management is a contact sport. To maintain relationships with customers, we must continue our new Zoom ways, but we must also get back to human contact. Companies that take their customers for granted and feel that Zoom is working just fine may find themselves losing customers simply due to someone else swooping in and working the relationship. Let's make physical and virtual contact. - Brendan P. Keegan, Merchants Fleet

4. A Greater Shift Toward Convenience

The pandemic has changed so many different behaviors in a very short time. I am seeing customers loving the convenience of shopping for everyday items online—and not just special or unique purchases. More people are comfortable being serviced via Zoom or a call versus going to an appointment that's face-to-face. - Robbin McManne, Parenting for Connection

5. Rising Interest in Local Businesses

We're seeing a boom of people wanting to do local business in the Southeast. I believe quarantine and the surrounding rings of effect have created a backlash that will actually empower business being done offline. We believe local authoritative service industry businesses will thrive for the remainder of this year. - Justin Brock, Medicare Gurus

6. Reserved Confidence in International Travel

As a professional in the travel industry, I'm looking at customers' confidence in international travel. Travelers are beginning to book international trips; however, we aren't seeing the normal level of bookings for European city escapes or Southeast Asia backpacking trips. We're continuing to see travelers search for remote and exclusive locations. This will influence how tour operators package trips. - Sam Jordan, EnviTours

7. Acceptance of Hybrid Models

Covid has taught us to be less fearful of the online experience. Expect online buying to keep growing and working from home to be commonplace. I work in the talent development industry where in-person meetings and events were our mainstay. We now run hugely successful virtual experiences and will only be going back to a hybrid model. All businesses will need to have an online strategy moving forward. - Kevin Vallely, The AIP Group

8. Increased Online Customer Complaints

Pay attention to your customers' compliments and complaints online. With the rise of customer complaints happening on social media (and the impact a brand's response has on loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing), you could easily argue that online customer care might be the highest marketing priority for 2021 and beyond. - Brooke Sellas, B Squared Media, LLC

9. A Preference for Fast Online Experiences

Consumers have become accustomed to online shopping on websites like Amazon. With the push of a button on their phone, any desired item arrives in one to two days. Groceries arrive the same day, and food from your favorite restaurant is delivered in 30 minutes. Consumers trust their phone first to get them what they need. Consumer habits were reinforced during the pandemic and will continue into the future. - Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

10. A Desire for Normalcy

I believe customers are eager to get out and shop in person due to the pandemic restrictions we all experienced in 2020. I also believe customers will be attracted to visually stimulating displays in stores and restaurants, as well as any shopping experience that will help return them to their normal routines. - Matt Drayton, Drayton Communications LLC

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
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