Graduate Students Unveil New Research on the Future of Consumerism

On Wednesday, June 23, on YouTube Premiere, students from the FIT Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management (CFMM) master’s degree program presented their capstone project—The Future of Consumerism—a two-part study spanning 16 countries that examines how COVID-19 triggered shifts in consumer mindsets and identifies its ensuing impact on brands and retailers in a post-pandemic world.

Part One of The Future of Consumerism study, titled The Future of Global Consumption, addressed the shift from shareholder-led capitalism to consumer-led capitalism. Part Two, The Chameleon Consumer, examined the evolving values of U.S. consumers and their emotional relationship to purchasing.

CFMM InfographicKey takeaways from the research are as follows:

CFMM Market Opportunity #1: The Circular Economy

We live in a linear economy in which consumers and brands are on a never-ending cycle of take, consume, and dispose. With a circular economy, brands can be value-driven and allow consumers the opportunity to disrupt the old pattern with a model of “make, use, return, and repeat.” Today, only 9% of the global economy is circular and the opportunity for brands to profit from the untapped 91% will be valued at $4.5 trillion by 2030. (Accenture)

Consumer Behavior: The Future of Traceability

  • Consumers track all aspects of their lives and are looking to make better choices for their futures. Therefore, brands need to put the consumer’s core values at the center of their business and strategy.
  • 66% of global consumers align themselves with brands that mirror their values. (FIT Lifestyle Survey, 2021)
  • 88% of global consumers want brands to help them make a difference. (Forbes, 2019)
  • 71% of global consumers are willing to pay a premium for brands that provide traceability. (IBM Institute of Business Value, 2020)

Recommendation: CFMM’s Personal Impact Index (PII)

Brands must value consumers over all other stakeholders. Research led the students to create an indexing tool, dubbed the “Personal Impact Index (PII),” through which consumers can track every purchase to see how it aligns with their social values, such as transparency and sustainability. In turn, consumers with higher PII scores can unlock higher credit scores as a result of participating in ethical consumption as responsible global citizens. Simultaneously, brands can leverage PII data to predict future purchasing behavior and marketing opportunities.

CFMM Market Opportunity #2: Understanding the Post-COVID Consumer

How can brands in the U.S. pinpoint consumers’ shape-shifting values? Brands can better serve their consumer audience by identifying which of the following CFMM-coined values is driving their purchasing decisions:

  • “For Me” values: introverted and self-serving
  • “Fulfillment” values: rewarding and community-building
  • “Fundamental” values: logical and practical

Consumer Behavior: Chameleon Consumers

Today’s consumer is like a chameleon, constantly changing their purchasing behavior based on mood, situation, and core values.

  • 75% of U.S. consumers believe their purchasing decisions shift based on the circumstance they are in. (FIT Lifestyle Survey, 2021)

Recommendation: CFMM’s Chameleon Credo

The CFMM students developed a brand survival guide, coined the Chameleon Credo, which brands must follow to future-proof their businesses:

  • Deliver newness that’s intentional when it comes to communication, innovation, and buying channels.
    • 62% of U.S. consumers say brands need less assortment and higher quality. (FIT CFMM Consumer Values and Behaviors Survey, 2021)
  • Predict the shift by understanding what a consumer values the most at a particular moment (flexibility, quality, wellness, time and convenience, price, or community)
    • 100% of the time, flexibility was marked as a top 3 driver in all purchase scenarios presented to survey respondents. (FIT CFMM Mood Mapping Survey, 2021)
  • Transform the experience by offering interactivity from the comfort of the consumer’s home.
    • 7 out of 10 respondents prefer shopping online because it’s convenient for them. (FIT Shopping Experience Survey, 2021)

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