Key Consumer Behaviour Trends for 2021 & Beyond

This time last year, we forecast a rise in above-the-keyboard dressing. Who knew then that this trend would accelerate so dramatically in 2020 due to stay-at-home restrictions, meeting online more frequently than in real life and adapting to living our lives through a screen. As we bid 2020 a not-very-fond farewell, it’s natural to look ahead and ask what’s next? 

As our home and work lives have blurred, technology has become more integral than ever. Globally, human contact has reduced and we have  entered an intimacy recession. Despite the pandemic, consumers are prioritising the health of the planet, forcing brands and businesses to be truly sustainable. Read on to discover the fundamental attitudes we are forecasting to shape the next 12 months and beyond.


We called out digisexuality and the changing face of intimacy back in 2019 as an emerging attitude, but the pandemic has accelerated this shift. In a time where being intimate with another person hasn’t been possible for many, the pandemic has led to people being afraid of physical intimacy and touch, and has encouraged a forging of real romantic relationships with tech. This attitude is evolving into the mainstream and we are seeing the rise of apps and influencers that offer audios and entertainment experiences without the emotional entanglement of a physical relationship. 

A digisexual person is someone who leverages immersive technology, such as virtual reality, AI and robotics to cultivate a romantic or sexual relationship. This kind of intimacy eradicates the need for emotional or physical intimacy from other humans. We expect the number of people who identify as digisexual to rise as this tech is relied upon more frequently and in new ways to foster love and relationships.


The pandemic has forced influencers to change strategies, focussing less on what they have and more on what they can share. As Covid-19 took hold and many countries around the world entered a recession, the traditional influencer model started to feel disingenuous and untrustworthy. At the same time, for many, world news is being shared and discovered on social media. In the UK, 61% of under 35s use apps such as Instagram and TikTok as their news source. Enter the genuinfluencers – influencers that share knowledge and wisdom – who are offering a more genuine source of information and inspiration.. 

Brands and businesses can utilise these genuinfluencers to share truth, be transparent with customers and add clarity to topics. Governments and organisations are also using this strategy to tackle misinformation and share important information with wide groups of people who aren’t using traditional media channels.

Gamified Retail

The retail economy has been one of the hardest hit by the global pandemic and traditional methods of purchasing have segued to digitisation and e-commerce models. This combined with the gaming boom has led to an opportunity for retail brands in third spaces and on gaming platforms. Not just for Millennials and Gen Z, this kind of gamified retail is cross-generational and is engaging Gen X and Boomers too – consider the people who are playing games on Facebook. The acceleration of digital transactions combined with the desire for experiential retail, along with the demand for clean commerce, amalgamates here, ticking all the boxes. Brands can utilise their gamified offering, ensuring that transactions are easy for consumers and add moments of joy and happiness.

Download the five Key Consumer Attitudes for 2020 & Beyond here.

Listen to WGSN’s CEO and Senior Insight Strategist unpack the trends on the Create Tomorrow podcast.

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