4 Customer Behavior Trends to Watch for in the Second Half of 2024

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In today’s ever-changing ecommerce world, predicting customer behavior is crucial for rising above the competition. As we move closer to the second half of 2024, we’ve identified several trends likely to shape how consumers interact with retailers. From sustainability to emerging technologies and economic shifts, let’s explore the key factors currently influencing customer behavior and how to prepare for these evolving trends.

Trend #1: Cautious Spending

The U.S. inflation rate in April 2024 was 3.36% compared to 4.93% the year before. While such a decrease is encouraging, it’s slightly higher than the long-term average of 3.28%. 

Inflation may be slowing down, but it isn’t yet in decline. Prices remain high, particularly for food and housing — the costs that take up a good chunk of paychecks. In a 2024 Outlook Report, NIQ Brandbank found that global consumers are spending 18% more than in 2021, which was expected to persist through 2024.

The Impact of Shrinkflation

Shoppers are dealing with reduced purchasing power by focusing on getting the maximum value for every purchase. This includes holding companies accountable for cost-cutting tactics like shrinkflation or skimpflation.

Shrinkflation: A decrease in a product’s volume or size without a price reduction.

Skimpflation: A decrease in a product’s quality without a price reduction.

Customers expect clear value for their money and will switch products if they feel misled on pricing or quality. A recent survey found that 20% of respondents said they would likely stop purchasing certain products altogether to combat shrinkflation, while 19% said they would switch to a generic product to save money.

Necessities > Luxuries

In the wake of economic uncertainty, shoppers are also becoming more frugal and less prone to splurging on luxury or discretionary items. NIQ Brandbank’s data found that people are increasingly budgeting for necessities. In fact, 38% of global shoppers felt they only had enough money to spend on food, shelter, and other basics, while 39% identified themselves as “cautious spenders.”

These data points underscore how crucial it is for businesses to adapt their pricing strategies, product offerings, and messaging to align with consumer expectations. Brands need to offer real value and show they care about consumer concerns such as shrinkflation.

Trend #2: Security and Privacy Concerns

Speaking of concerns, security and privacy continue to influence ecommerce shoppers. According to recent data, 23% of U.S. internet users strongly oppose sharing their personal information online, even to receive benefits. Instead, customers are increasingly gravitating toward brands and products that prioritize data protection.

One recent study found some interesting insights on how privacy concerns impacted the shopping decisions of respondents:

  • 85% said knowing a company’s data privacy policy was important before purchasing.
  • 72% said knowing a company’s AI policies was important before purchasing.
  • 46% often or always consider switching to another brand when data policies are unclear.

The data shows that businesses have a unique opportunity to win over customer trust by simply being transparent about data usage. When you’re upfront with your customers about data privacy and AI usage, they are more likely to trust you, and trust ultimately leads to conversions. One study found that customers who trust a brand are 88% more likely to buy again. Retailers should prioritize customer data protection and transparent communication to stay competitive in today’s increasingly privacy-conscious market.

Trend #3: Prioritizing Ethical and Sustainable Brands

Sustainability and ethics remain top priorities for shoppers in 2024. According to recent data, 70% of consumers are willing to pay more for ethically sourced or sustainably produced products. The 2023 Customer Loyalty Index from SAP Emarsys even found that 32% of U.S. shoppers switched brands specifically because of their sustainability practices.

To win over these shoppers, retailers need to offer supply chain transparency, prioritize sustainable packaging, and possibly reimagine their product offerings to better align with eco-friendly practices.

The Rise of Recommerce

One way to do this is by focusing on recommerce, which reintroduces restored, returned, or used products back into the market. In a 2023 survey from Statista, 60% of American respondents said they made at least one second-hand purchase in the past year, up from 49% in 2019. This was especially true for apparel, and some analysts even claim, as cited by Statista, that second-hand fashion may soon outpace fast fashion. In our recent white paper on the topic, we identified that 80% of Gen Z and 78% of Millennials we surveyed have purchased pre-owned goods. 

Recommerce practices allow retailers to create a green business model that drives growth and resonates with eco-conscious customers. Adopting these kinds of principles can help build stronger connections with a growing share of shoppers who judge brands based on their social and environmental impact.

Trend #4: Omnichannel Experiences

Digital was king during the pandemic, but we’re beginning to see a preference for omnichannel retailers as customers look for a blend of online and offline shopping.

Shoppers like to have options. The ability to shop online, in person, or both is becoming increasingly appealing to many:

  • Recent survey data found that 75% of consumers said they were shopping both online and in stores for a broad range of categories.
  • Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) sales grew to over $95 billion in 2022 and are expected to reach over $154 billion by 2025.

AR Increases Shopper Confidence

In response to this omnichannel trend, many retailers are using technology such as augmented reality (AR) to bring the feel of in-store browsing to the online shopping experience. Virtual try-on options or showrooms to see how the product would look in real life can also increase customer confidence when buying online — one survey found that two-thirds of respondents said they were less likely to return a product when using AR.

Final Thoughts

Economic uncertainty has made people more cautious about spending, and with the rise of AI, shoppers are now more concerned about security, privacy, and ethical considerations. In response to these customer behavior trends, retailers need to provide authentic, valuable, and innovative omnichannel solutions. At the very least, being transparent and upfront with customers across all channels is a must.

If you want to better understand shopping behavior trends and improve your customer experience strategy, look no further than Bizrate Insights. Book a demo or start an account today to unlock actionable insights and start driving growth.