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Consumer trends you need to know for 2022

Illustration of three girls using mobile phones
Jessie Wong for WGSN
Jan 13, 2022 By WGSN Insider
Updates from WGSN

We are seeing waves of activism around the world as people become aware of the power they have to drive change. One way is through the products they choose to support, which brands are responding to by building customer feedback loops. Looking ahead, the younger generation – in particular Gen Z – has already started shaping the new digital paradigm of the future, but what exactly can we expect?

The demand for authenticity will drive the adoption of filterless social media, while direct-2-avatar commerce will rise as the metaverse is here to stay. Discover more about these two consumer trends from WGSN Insight, which we reveal as part of our six-part series covering some of our top trends forecasts for 2022 and beyond.

Filterless social media

In 2022, we’ll see a shift towards the ‘filterless feed’, as ordinary users and influencers alike present more raw and transparent representations of themselves online.

With Gen Z placing value on authenticity, brands will follow suit. In summer 2021, Norway introduced a law to make influencers declare retouched pictures on social media to help combat unrealistic beauty standards, with other countries likely to follow suit. Filters have long been woven into the fabric of social media, but a backlash is mounting as awareness of the harm they can cause grows. 

A study published in 2021 by the University of London's Gender and Sexualities Research Centre found that 90% of young women reported using filters or editing their photos to look different, while another found adding filters to Instagram selfies could result in fewer likes. This raises questions of why these filters are still available, why young people still use them and what position social media platforms and brands have in this quandary.

Direct-2-avatar commerce

We’re in the age of the avatar – and what our avatars wear is more important than ever. Enter direct-to-avatar commerce, or D2A, an emerging retail model that will unlock new opportunities for brands entering the metaverse, forging deeper connections in digital environments. 

By designing and selling items that don’t exist IRL directly to avatars, D2A commerce allows brands to sidestep supply chains, opening them up to new revenue streams. This evolving, potentially more sustainable format is set to bring in business: by 2022, the in-game skins market will soar to $50bn. Powered by companies such as Bitmoji and Genies, which allow users to create and customise their virtual identities, D2A commerce means brands can debut exclusive digital products via in-game products or collections on platforms like Roblox and Fortnite. 

We’ll also see an emerging creator economy form, as custom content creators (or CCs) take avatar customisation into their own hands, creating high-demand, digital clothing and accessories to sell to other players across social platforms.

For more key trends, get access to our Top Trends 2022 report and exclusive webinar here.

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