Attracting customers

Small Business Consumer Trends for 2019

13 November 2018
5 minute read

Alex Woods

It’s that time of year again! When another 12 months of trade is coming to an end and business owners are starting to look to the year ahead. So what should be on their radar?

Upcoming consumer trends is a huge factor that should be considered as it will give businesses an indication of where they’re going and what they can do better to cater to consumers. And with consumer needs and behaviour shifting more rapidly than ever before, businesses need to be on top of it if they want to survive. After all, failure to adapt means getting left behind and losing out to competitors!

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the emerging consumer trends for 2019 and what this holds in store for business owners:

Creating In-Store Experiences

Retail Experiences

As online purchases have taken the world by storm, brick-and-mortar businesses have realised that they need to really step up to get customers to visit their stores in person. This seems to have worked to some extent as according to a report from PwC, the past three years have seen increases in weekly bricks-and-mortar shoppers, from 40% in 2015 to 44% in 2018. This rise in physical store shopping could well be down to the fact that consumers are looking for ‘more sensory and social experience.’

Some examples of bigger brands doing this include Topshop who created an in-store summer experience called Splash! This included pop-ups, VR experiences and a real in-store slide to help actively engage their shoppers. They also pumped the scent of suncream throughout the store and created a special Snapchat filter to further engage shoppers on social media. Another example of in-store experience is Japanese retailer Uniqlo who launched a series of wellness events which included yoga mornings, mindfulness workshops and kids’ tennis.

These types of interactive experiences are set to remain huge in 2019 and you don’t need an extortionate budget to incorporate some experiences into your own store. For example, if you own a food or drink store you could set up a try-before-you-buy approach allowing shoppers to sample your products before they buy them, or if you’re a retailer you could set up your changing rooms for selfies complete with props and customised mirrors.

If you do need additional funding to support your in-store experiences, why not give our Business Cash Advance a go? This is a simpler, more flexible solution to business finance that allows you to make repayments when your customers pay you - working perfectly in line with your cash flow.

Pioneering Environmentally-Friendly Packaging

Eco Trends

Following the recent surge of all things environmentally friendly and a general shift towards a more eco-conscious consumer, packaging and in particular the use of plastic will continue to be in the spotlight in 2019. This is obviously something that consumers care about as according to a study from Mintel, 71% of UK household care product buyers agree that using recovered ocean plastic in packaging is a good way to protect the environment.

Some businesses that are already putting practices in place to try and reduce their use of plastic include supermarket ASDA who are aiming to remove single-use cups and cutlery across all their stores by 2019. Costa Coffee are also onboard as they have made a commitment to offer discounts on reusable cups and removing plastic straws from all of their cafes.

There are actions you could take for your own business which will likely speak to your more eco-conscious customers. For example if you own a convenience store or greengrocer, how about offering paper bags for fruit and vegetables? Coffee shops can also look at selling reusable cups on their premises and offering discounts for customers using them. Cafes and restaurants can switch to paper straws and swap plastic cutlery and containers for compostable cutlery and bowls. Chances are, your customers will take note and have you down as a leading example!

Transparency Is Key!


Authenticity, honesty, transparency – this is what consumers are going to be looking for more of in 2019. This could be partly due to the uncertain economic and political climate that we’re experiencing, therefore it makes sense that consumers want to know more about what they’re spending their money on. In fact, according to statistics, 91% of consumers rate ‘honest communication’ about products and services as the most important trait they look for in a business.

This is especially true when it comes to Generation Z (people born around the mid 1990s to early 2000s). Marketing and PR Manager, Mollie Powles makes an interesting point by saying, “True, they lack the brand loyalty of their predecessors but this has been replaced by a stronger concern for the quality of the product and the values of the company behind it – rather than the company name itself."

So how can businesses make sure that they’re being authentic, honest and transparent? If you’re a restaurant or cafe, you could start by being upfront about where your food comes from, (especially if it is locally sourced) as customers often like to know exactly what they are eating and how it got onto their plate. The same can be said for food products if you’re a shop or convenience store that stocks food items. Other things you can do as a business include being really open with your brand values and what you stand for. Keep this message consistent across your website, social media channels and any email communications that you send out to really integrate this into your customers’ minds.

Asking for customer feedback is also a great way to start an honest conversation and shows that you value your customers’ input in helping you try and improve your products and services! 

And finally, it’s honesty in your customer relationships is all about keeping in contact with them which means being responsive on social media, through web queries, on the telephone and in person. Quickly address any issues that arise and give your customers as much visibility as you can in terms of what you’re doing to resolve their issues!

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