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Honesty And Integrity: Trends Guiding The Consumer Industry In 2022

May 2022
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The findings of Stanton Chase’s latest Consumer Industry Survey

Our Consumer Industry Survey polled executives from 46 countries about what they can learn from the challenges – and sometimes unexpected successes – of the past year. We learned about how leaders are responding to the meteoric rise of e-commerce, the trend of click and collect, and how consumers and leaders alike are prioritizing honesty and integrity in their search for brands and talent, respectively.

Here are the most important findings of our biannual survey.

Some companies found themselves better poised to cater to the rapid shift in consumer habits that the pandemic wrought. Over 50% of respondents said the pandemic has had a negative effect on their business, with 31% citing a “strong negative impact.” However, crucially, 38% of executives said they had actually experienced positive effects from the crisis. This demonstrates that there are leaders who were able to successfully pivot in response to potential risks and reap the benefits of quick thinking and innovation.

Surprising Positive Effects Of The Pandemic Noted

“How has the pandemic impacted your business?”

The high-stakes endeavor to glean valuable lessons from the pandemic is top of mind for leaders in the consumer industry. The disruptions and problems with the supply chain represent the biggest concern for a large majority (78%) of our respondents, regardless of the size of their organization, who cited this as one of their greatest worries along with the digital transformation toward “anywhere and anytime” (60%), and increased sustainability awareness among consumers (41%).

Supply-Chain Disruptions Are Top Of Mind

“With regard to your business, what are the top 3 key issues that keep you awake at night?”

While one-fifth (21%) of respondents said they were satisfied and wouldn’t change anything about their company’s performance over the past 12 months, more than a third (39%) expressed the desire to have encouraged more innovation among their workers. A quarter (25%) said they would have paid closer attention to human resources management, and a fifth (21%) said they would have organized employees’ work differently. Likewise, nearly a fifth (19%) wished they had intensified marketing activities and reviewed online initiatives. Fifteen percent said they would have strengthened the team with external candidates.

Leaders Wish They’d Encouraged More Innovation

“If you could turn back the clock to 12 months ago, what would you do differently?”

Click and collect has been booming in the United States, witnessing growth of 106.9% since 2019, according to Deloitte. At the onset of the pandemic, click and collect increased from 15% of orders to 25%, representing a 65% share increase. According to Business Insider, U.S. shoppers reportedly spent over $72 billion using click and collect in 2020, which translated into an exponential growth rate of 106.9% over 2019.

This enormous growth is reflected in the fact that nearly half of our respondents – almost 80% – view click and collect as important (48%). A third (30%) said it is essential to the future of their company.

The Importance Of Click And Collect

“How would you describe the importance of the trend of ‘click and collect’ on the future of your business?”

However, there is some regional disparity in how leaders view the trend. More than half of respondents (51%) in North America view click and collect as essential, compared to just 20% of those in Europe.

North American Leaders View Click And Collect As Essential

“How would you describe the importance of the trend of ‘click and collect’ on the future of your business?”

Almost two-thirds of consumer industry leaders are taking action already or preparing a game plan to jump in on the trend. Almost half (45%) said they are actively analyzing the trend and have already made changes to their strategies, processes, or products and services to best cater to the click-and-collect market. Just under a quarter (24%) said they are watching the trend and have made their first analyses but have yet to take concrete action. Interestingly, almost one in five says they have noted the trend but are not taking steps to incorporate it into their business.

Consumer Leaders Are Acting On Click-and-Collect Trend

“How is your company acting on this trend?”

Practically all of our respondents agreed that ethical and environmental awareness – another trend that has taken off in the past several years – is important or essential to the future of their company. They recognize that consumers’ appetite has changed in that they are more concerned that before with a company’s values and practices in everything from diversity and workers’ rights to its impact on the environment.

General Consensus Prioritizes Ethnical And Environmental Awareness

“How important do you consider the trend of ethical and environmental awareness to be for the future of your company?”

Translating this commitment into action remains a challenge for leaders, and it is one that most have at least attempted to take into account. Only 7% said this was something they had not put any thought into, whereas almost half (47%) said they have started implementing specific projects with ethical and environmental concerns in mind and a further 27% said they have already set the wheels in motion by starting to make plans.

Leaders in Europe appear farther along this track than their North American counterparts. More than half (57%) of our respondents from European firms said their organization has started implementing specific projects to reflect consumers’ increasing concerns about ethics and the environment, while only one in four (26%) of those in North America were able to say the same. 

Leaders Are Taking Action

“In your strategic business decisions, are you taking consumers’ growing ethical and environmental concerns into account?”

A majority of our respondents (62%) are seeking to give consumers information about how products are made and how they are sourced to let the consumer understand the impact this product or service has on the environment. Half of leaders (50%) are looking to align their company and brand values with the personal values of consumers, and more than a third (38%) are seeking ways to help consumers understand the ethics of their company and how their employees are treated. Likewise, 33% said they are searching for ways to let consumers reduce their use of single-use plastics, and a quarter (24%) want to provide consumers with direct access to the brand.

Informing Consumers About Products’ Environmental Impact

“In what ways are you addressing consumers’ ethical and environmental concerns?”

The most important attributes for the next generation of leaders, according to our survey’s participants, include the ability to execute and deliver (44%), honesty and integrity (40%), vision or strategic thinking (39%), and an entrepreneurial mindset (39%). In fourth place ranked innovative ideas and ability (28%). Clearly, leaders are hoping to find talented individuals who are able to get things done with their hearts in the right place and have the knowhow and gumption to turn their observations into actionable results.

Executives Looking For Honest Leaders Who Get Things Done

“Which attributes does your organization value highest as you assess and recruit tomorrow’s leaders?”

Conclusion

The past two years have set the ball rolling for big changes in the consumer industry. The pandemic has upended all the traditional modes of making products and getting them to customers. For leaders in the industry, it’s been an eye-opening period in which tried-and-true models of logistics and marketing have fallen by the wayside as consumers look to brands that resonate with their personal values and which can accommodate new preferences like e-commerce and click and collect.

Our survey confirms that these particular trends are likely to be the drivers of 2022 for the consumer industry, and corporations themselves are rethinking their priorities for what to look for in new leaders and how to open and sustain transparent channels of communication with their customers.

If you would like to find out more or discuss with one of our consultants, please reach out to your closest Stanton Chase office.

Read the whole survey

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