Consumers have acquired new power when dealing with B2C brands and businesses, and they are throwing down the gauntlet about what they expect from those they choose to do business with.
These newly empowered customers no longer need to trade off price, convenience, and emotional experience when making buying decisions—instead, they expect new products, services, and delivery models to cater to all attributes at once. And according to new research from Forrester, this is forcing firms to enter their most frenzied phase of innovation.
As a result, the future of B2C buying is not a shift from traditional to digital or an abandonment of self-service in favor of delivery—it is all the above.
As consumers demand better experiences of every kind, the new research explores four trends that will define how B2C firms evolve to meet consumer demands over the next decade:
1. Marketplaces will lose market share to brands
While companies like Amazon have gained tremendous influence in the past 10 years, brands will be the real winners in the next decade. Brands like Nike that have pulled their products from marketplaces already understand they must be in control of their own products to build experiences that create loyal customers. In 2019, 50 percent of U.S. adults were indifferent to online marketplaces, however this dropped to 44 percent in 2020, most likely due to lockdowns preventing in-store shopping.
2. Experience, not marketing, will drive demand
The traditional buyer journey must be reinvented. Today’s buyer wants to buy or test products before fully committing, emphasizing the use, ask, and engagement pieces of the buying model. Spotify is an example of a brand using innovative pricing and distribution that enables access instead of ownership.
3. Values, specifically privacy, will influence purchase decisions
While climate change and racial and gender equality are top-of-mind, privacy is the most important to consumers when buying. In fact, the most popular corporate value among U.S. and Canadian online adults is a commitment to information confidentiality and data privacy. Firms that don’t make privacy, security, and data ethics a core tenet of their corporate social responsibility efforts will face the ire of consumers and regulators.
4. Traditional business models will become extinct
Startups and nimble tech companies are forcing even the most established consumer-facing business to rethink their strategies. To survive, companies will need to evolve through alternative revenue streams, expanded partnerships and new channels.
“Companies will need to discard orthodoxies around pricing, distribution, promotions and products,” said Sucharita Kodali, Forrester VP and principal analyst, in a news release. “Companies that survive by 2030 will have new products and solutions that constantly adjust to fickle and changing consumers. These transitions are painful because firms have a lot invested in their current go-to-market approaches. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that sometimes even large capital expenses carefully invested in over the years need to be re-evaluated.”