Strategies, research, industry trends — your pulse on the marketplace
The   Bazaar   Voice
Strategies, research, industry trends — your pulse on the marketplace
consumer preferences

It goes without saying that consumer preferences are literally always changing. What was true five years ago likely won’t be the case today, and almost certainly won’t be the case five years from now. Knowing that consumer behavior changes is one thing, knowing how and why it changes is another.

Understanding consumer preferences goes way deeper than just vaguely knowing what a customer wants. It means assessing the opinions consumers form about your products and services, based on criteria like quality, price, convenience, and individual preferences. These preferences inform likes, dislikes, and motivations that drive customers to make purchasing decisions, and dictate brands on what to produce and offer.

The key is to always keep ahead of what’s going on in the consumer realm. The best way to go about this is to simply go out and ask them. Do your research. Send surveys. Where are they shopping? What do they expect from brands like yours? What are they spending their money on? Doing all that can be very time consuming though. But don’t worry, we’ve done it for you. 🧐

Consumer preferences: 6 areas to to lean into

Using insights from four separate Bazaarvoice studies — a private label survey, our authenticity research, the shopper preference report, and our renowned Shopper Experience Index — we’ve identified the key consumer preferences you need to understand and focus on this coming year (and beyond!)

1. Rise of value seekers

The primary shift in consumer preferences lies with value-seeking consumers. 73% of consumers globally have confirmed changes in their shopping habits — a pretty massive shift, especially in terms of the customer base you’re trying to retain.

Shoppers across the board are adapting their purchasing behaviors. Essential items needed for survival (groceries, for example) see the least reduction in spending, somewhat obviously. But more surprisingly, there’s a noticeable trend in delaying purchases of practical products, like clothing.

You can win over these shoppers by providing the information they seek in your branded content, and especially in the user-generated content (UGC) you display/syndicate. 62% of shoppers seek value-for-money information within content, relying on feedback from their peers to build trust and inform purchase decisions. The top five factors shoppers look for in UGC are:

  1. Value for money
  2. Material quality
  3. Accuracy of product description
  4. Real-life appearance
  5. True-to-size fit

In short, today’s consumers are becoming extra savvy, scrutinizing products in a quest for genuine value. They want to know they’re getting the right product for their money and they’re turning to UGC to find out — so give it to them.

2. Shoppers are open to new brands

As shoppers become savvier and savvier, a unique opportunity is emerging for brands: shoppers are willing to make a switch. Historically, brands have focused heavily on brand loyalty to secure customer retention, but 7 out of 10 shoppers say they’re willing to switch to a new brand — even for the products they regularly purchase.

This provides a window of opportunity for one area in particular: private labels.

Once derided as cheap or tacky alternatives to the bigger labels, private label brands are now considered a genuinely good-value option. And shoppers are flocking to them — 97% of shoppers are open to trying them, according to our private label survey.

Whether your brand offers private labels, distributes them, or competes against them, these insights demand your attention. What were once seen as mere knockoffs are now symbols of decent quality and, at times, a higher consumer preference. You can learn 4 strategies for achieving private label success here.

3. Social shopping is a full-funnel experience

As mentioned above, 70% of shoppers are open to trying new brands. Now’s your chance to stand out where they hang out — and that’s on social. 63% of Earth’s population now use social media.

And it’s no longer just for doomscrolling or jumping on the latest TikTok trend, it’s become so much more than that, and then some. Social media represents a monumental shift in modern shopping interaction — at least according to the 8,000 consumers we spoke to.

Gen Z in particular are instrumental in this social media 2.0. For Gen Z, social media serves as a platform for discovery — 73% of them utilize social platforms to inform their purchasing decisions and 69% of Gen Z individuals also follow brands they either use or contemplate using. Social media is the new search engine.

Given this, it’s essential for you to adapt your social strategy accordingly. And not just for the discovery phase but all the way through the entire conversion funnel, however short or long that will take. 

And before you think to yourself, “It’s only Gen Z, I’d rather focus on bigger market segments,” a) Gen Z wields $350 billion in disposable income, and b) There’s a definite misconception that only Gen Z engages with social media in such extensive capacities. Our research says otherwise.

Every demographic, including those way into their 50s and 60s, use social platforms as part of their purchasing processes. Regardless of target demographics, you’ll need to tailor your approaches to align with changing consumer preferences.

In essence, while disparities exist amongst different generations, they’re far less pronounced than commonly assumed. 

4. Consumers are creators

One of the most interesting consumer preferences at the moment comes in the form of different types of shopper consumers see themselves as. We conducted a survey where shoppers from across the globe were asked to categorize themselves into one of two different shopper types.

Firstly, there’s the “lurkers.” These are individuals who consume content but rarely express their opinions publicly. Aka, they read reviews and look at visual UGC, but they don’t create or post anything themselves. Somewhat surprisingly, 47% of shoppers fall into this category.

The second choice given was “creators.” These are the people who actively create content, like leaving a product review. Over half (53%) of shoppers now identify themselves as creators in various capacities.

This trend highlights the growing importance of the creator economy, which is projected to reach a market size of $7 billion in the coming years. Essentially, this signifies that there’s a wealth of untapped creativity and willingness among shoppers to create UGC about your brand. You just need to go out and ask them:

  • 70% of consumers are open to brands sharing their social media post
  • 43% of shoppers like to receive emails asking for their opinion on a product they’ve purchased

5. Create authentic content

When it comes to content what really matters is authenticity. Everybody’s looking for authenticity, to the extent that “authentic” was crowned word of the year by Webster last year. So much so that we launched a study asking shoppers what they feel about authenticity.

69% of the respondents to Bazaarvoice’s authenticity survey said that they’re somewhat concerned about encountering things that aren’t authentic and possibly fake online, as Bazaarvoice CMO Zarina Stanford outlines in her presentation on changing consumer preferences below:

Shoppers evaluate whether the content they look at is trustworthy or not using either your online platform, trusted third-party platforms, or signs of authentication like a trust signal (more on that to follow). 

But while they’re (rightly) concerned about trust and authenticity, they don’t feel it’s their job to address it — 63% of consumers think brands are responsible for managing and solving the issues of inauthentic or fraud or fake content online.

Adding to that, when asked whether they feel more if there’s some kind of trust signal — like a logo or a badge — nearly three quarters (73%) of them said yes. An easy way to take charge of the responsibility consumers feel brands have over maintaining authenticity is with a trust signal. For example, at Bazaarvoice many of our clients use the Bazaarvoice Trust Mark.

If you’re a Bazaarvoice customer and haven’t got the Trust Mark on, contact your CS team and they will help you with that! 

Regardless of whether you’re looking at it from a consumer side, from a brand side, or the retailer side, always, always, always take authenticity seriously. Because it’s what your brand equity and safety is anchored on. And consumers won’t do business with you without it.

6. Brand consistency

Expanding on from above, consumers really want to see brand consistency from you. In today’s digital era, 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience from brands. Regardless of whether that’s offline, online, in email, or wherever, they expect it across every channel.

What truly shapes your brand’s reputation is what your shoppers say it is. Safeguarding your brand image and reputation means ensuring a uniform brand experience across all digital touchpoints. This requires embracing and amplifying the voice of the customer, attentively listening to their feedback, and adjusting strategies accordingly.

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar or an e-commerce store, or both, bring in your organic social content and other UGC and display it for shoppers to see across your PDPs, social feeds, in-store ads, and anywhere else your shoppers are.

Unlocking consumer preferences 

When it comes to the changing preferences of today’s consumers, this article is only really scratching the surface. Eager to learn where else you need to lean into to satisfy today’s shoppers? Then watch our on-demand masterclass with Bazaarvoice CMO Zarina Stanford and hear first-hand how your brand can adapt and thrive.

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