3 Consumer Trends to Watch in 2017

As we launch into a brand new year, we look to connect with consumers and make our brands shine. The surveys and insights we gathered over the past year reveal certain learnings that caught our eye and were quite a revelation. Below are some insights from consumer surveys and ways brands can tap into these insights to delight customers in the new year.

Marketing to MillennialsConsumers Are Inclined to Spend More on Experiences

In survey after survey, consumers have told us that they value experiences over things. According to a Synchrony Financial 2016 consumer survey, 68 percent of the population said enjoying experiences are more important than owning things, and over 60 percent said they will pay a premium for experiences they feel are valuable. These categories include travel, leisure, entertainment and dining out.

According to a study by Lightspeed GMI/Mintel, the top three categories consumers say they increased spending on since 2013 are: leisure and entertainment (+12 percent), dining out (+11 percent) and vacations (+10 percent).

Implications for retailers: What are retailers doing to take advantage of this trend? Quite a lot, actually. Many retailers are creating restaurants right in their stores. For instance, Barnes and Noble has put full restaurants in several of their stores, complete with waiter service and Urban Outfitters has several stores with bars. Toys”R”Us has unveiled plans to create a prototype store that will include a play space and interactive technology to engage kids and parents alike. Add that to cooking demonstrations at Williams-Sonoma and rock climbing at REI, and we have a trend that is taking hold.

online shoppingDigital Shopping Grew Tremendously in 2016

The Synchrony Financial 6th Annual Digital Study showed dramatic increases in using digital technology for almost all shopping related tasks. About two-thirds of survey respondents stated that they have performed some kind of shopping related task on their mobile phones, up from 45 percent a year ago. And 40 percent of the population say they are more likely to increase online shopping over the next 12 months. Not only are they engaging with retailers via digital, consumers are also driven by digital offers. More than half (55 percent) say they would shop at a store more often if they were sent relevant offers to their mobile device, up from 35 percent only a year ago.

Implications for retailers: Since digital shopping is widespread, many retailers have invested in technology to make the digital experience seamless. This includes creating shopping apps with high functionality that provide access to everything related to the shopping experience — from rewards to checkout. Location-based services and beacons have also become commonplace, as two out of three consumers tell us they check in at retailers to get points, special offers and discounts.

FSnews_071513_mobile_imageMobile Payments Are on the Rise

According to the Digital Study referenced above, 81 percent of the U.S. population is now aware of mobile wallets, up from only about half a year ago. However, regular usage is fairly low. Consumers expressed concern about security and the lack of additional value as their reasons. And at this point, many retailers do not accept mobile payments. But according to a recent study by Forrester, 75 percent of retailers say they plan on accepting ApplePay by the end of 2017. And 46 percent of non-users say they are likely to try mobile payments if they receive an offer. So, as the technology becomes ubiquitous across retailers and there is added value for consumers, mobile payments are expected to increase.

Implications for retailers: Payments are an extremely important part of the shopping experience. For some retailers, the payment process is the only interaction they have with the customer. Think of the last time the line at the register was too long and the customer just walked out without buying. If the payment experience is seamless, the customer is happy; if not, the result could be lost sales. This is the reason mobile wallet technology is an imperative for the retail industry and so many retailers are making big investments in it. As shoppers expect to be able to check out using their smartphones, the retail experience must match this expectation.

As we look ahead to the coming year, we know for certain there will be some elements of predictability in what we will see, and some things will surprise us. But, the closer we track the sentiment of consumers, the better we will be at delighting them.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily Synchrony Financial. All references to consumers and population refer to the survey respondents.