Manufacturers are the initial step in the journey of a product; consumers are the final destination. But just because there are numerous channels between them, this doesn’t mean one can’t affect the other. Just like a poorly manufactured product can create problems for consumers, consumer trends can dictate how manufacturers produce a product. Here are five very real examples of how modern consumer trends are making their way back to manufacturers.
1. Direct-to-customer delivery
According to global consulting firm McKinsey, there are at least five food delivery companies already valued at more than $1 billion. Couple this with eCommerce giant Amazon’s huge emphasis on last-mile delivery and the evidence is clear: Direct-to-customer is a long-term trend that’s destined to grow bigger.
How is this affecting manufacturers? Increased demand for things such as automotive parts, corrugated packaging, distribution center equipment, and more. Even more importantly, manufacturers themselves are beginning to explore the possibility of direct-to-consumer sales. As a result, several manufacturing sectors are ramping up as a new era of consumerism knocks on the door.
2. Right to Repair
The Right to Repair (R2R) movement has been making headlines since 2013, with strong annual lobbying for legislature in favor of a consumer’s right to repair devices they’ve purchased. The movement is gaining traction, and several key court cases have fallen in favor of consumers.
As the battle rages for consumers’ right to repair, manufacturers are beginning to see changes in how their products are manufactured. Specifically, products are being produced with a focus on safety, sustainability, and security. Giving consumers access to the fundamentals of a product could have serious blowback on proprietary designs, patent filings, and much more. Tomorrow’s manufacturing practices will need to protect against these dangers.
3. Responsible practices
It’s no secret that sustainability is a core proponent of millennial and Generation Z consumerism. As a result, more companies have turned an attentive eye to their manufacturing practices. Mitigating waste, implementing sustainable practices, and sourcing materials with the environment in mind are all changing legacy manufacturing approaches. It’s a necessary adaptation for manufacturers and one that might actually improve profitability, according to a recent report on responsible consumerism habits.
4. Affordable products
Price has long been a driver of consumerism. Today’s shoppers value price even more so, which has produced demand for lower-cost manufacturing. Thankfully, industrial digitization is already a prevalent concept. As consumers continue to pinch pennies, manufacturers must do the same, which means making the shift to more efficient, cost-effective production, preventing margins from thinning.
5. Frictionless shopping
Robots making robots? It’s not science fiction — it’s the future of manufacturing, according to one of the most prevalent trends in consumerism. Customer automation is on the rise, which means manufacturers must produce more technologies capable of serving people. Grocery store self-checkouts, fast food ordering kiosks, self-serve ticketing systems — they’re all driving demand for sophisticated manufacturing. As robots take the place of salespeople and customer service representatives, the frictionless shopping experience needs new technologies to run smoothly.
Manufacturing may be the source of all products, but it operates at the behest of the consumers buying them. As consumer sentiment shifts, so must manufacturing. Right now, demand is changing — thankfully, so are technologies and manufacturer capabilities. As one pivots, so must the other.