Retail recap: 2021, the year of conscious consumerism

2021 was the year the world got smaller, and this was ever present across the retail industry. Conscious consumerism led to shopping small and local, to consumers identifying diverse brands, and to an increase in choosing sustainable and domestic-made products. An extended period of working from home also led to the massive rise in convenience and adoption of rapid local delivery, as we see with the rise of DoorDash, UberEats, Deliveroo, Gorillas, and more.

Online retail platform RangeMe (who in 2021 added the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Netherlands to its territories) analysed data from more than 15,000 retail buyers and over 200,000 product suppliers on its platform to help report the latest trends. Results from its Q4 and 2021 Annual Retail Recap show that the pandemic is still impacting global purchasing habits, but an increased interest in conscious consumerism is now driving future purchases and consumer buying habits.

In the UK, the focus was on feeling better as data shows consumers demanded “Allergy” and “Cold & Flu” based products, as well as “Lollies” and “Fizzy Drinks” and a rise in buyer searches for Children’s “Toys.” However, in the US the focus was on “Natural”, “Authentic”, and “Vegan” products as well seeing a rise in searching for convenience including “Frozen” foods and “Chocolate.”

The 800,000+ products featured on RangeMe are categorised into Collections and data analysis shows that the three most popular and searched Collections in 2021 were; “Supplier Diversity”, which features suppliers from diverse business backgrounds to boost economic development; “Plant Based”, which showcases cutting edge plant-based brands and products redefining retail and finally; “Work from Home”, identifying products that enhance the home office or experience as the hybris working model establishes its hold.

An increase in conscious consumerism is inevitably reflected in the adoption of various global certifications. In 2021 RangeMe partnered with more than 25 new certification organisations including The Vegan Society, Fairtrade America, Paleo Foundation, the Global Animal Partnership, and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

In the UK, Food and Beverage buyers searched for products within safe and local suppliers (SALSA), certified organic, and AllergyUK certifications. Health and Beauty buyers opted for the same, with the exception of allergies, and a focus instead on EcoCert. General Merchandise also searched within allergy-friendly and EcoCert as well as the Global Organic Textile Standard.

What can we expect to see in 2022?

“We have identified four core areas we predict will be on trend this year,” said RangeMe CEO and founder Nicky Jackson. “Conscientiousness, Convenience, Connection, and Competitiveness. Consumers will demand to see proof of ESG initiatives and won’t accept greenwashing but will expect to see inclusivity and diversity introduced at every opportunity. The rapid delivery movement will establish a few big players while retailers compete to win loyalty from consumers. Connection between brand and customer will become a focus for retailers and this is where the direct-to-consumer business model will play an important role as will social media and livestreaming and real-time purchasing. Finally, retail brands will invest more in their supply chains as many have learned the hard way in late 2021.”

RangeMe is the global online platform where retailers and suppliers can discover, connect, and grow their business. Suppliers can showcase their range and bring new products to market.