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Consumer 2021 Trends across 5 business verticals

Everything starts with search.

A search for knowledge, a search for information, a search for entertainment, a search for a chocolate chip cookie recipe, a search for that pair of athleisure pants you want to wear when working from home and working out.

If everything starts with search, what did we find in our search of consumer behaviour trends for 2021?

Before we get to that, let’s first hit the rewind button. In January 2020 we issued our 2020 Vision Report on trends we see taking hold over the next decade. The five areas we examined in that report fell into the following: Culture, Marketing, Media, Technology and Economics.

In addition, it’s important to be transparent on how we conducted our research. Our 2021 Consumer Trends report is a mix of search data and consumer survey data from our research partners at Suzy.

The questions we asked of global participants tried to help us answer the following:

  • What new behaviors are emerging and why?
  • What has happened historically related to a specific vertical that provides clues for what happens next?
  • What data supports our hypothesis on a specific vertical?
  • What are consumers thinking and feeling right now related to industry (example, what kind of travel are they doing, how often, and how?)

The FIVE vertical areas we did a deep dive into, and themes we discovered:


The end of more. The move to low impact consumerism is here to stay.

Health & Wellness

Mindfulness and uniqueness take the spotlight.


Fear of missing out conflicts with responsibility.


Finding a balance in a virtual world.


Independence and putting your money where your mouth is.

Below are teasers from the full report you can download now from the Microsoft Advertising Insights section of our website.

Retail Trend

Liquid expectations

During the pandemic, retail had to rise to the occasion and meet consumer needs in new ways. Overall this led to some brands standing out from the crowd and excelling in the new landscape through superior digital experiences. But with exceptional customer-centric website or app design, consumers' expectations increase causing a tidal wave effect. Soon people expect instant gratification and a seamless experience from all retail organisations.

Steps you can take as an advertiser:

  • Site design, functionality, and UX. While advertising helps gain traffic and quality leads, nothing says “bounce rate” more than when customers compare your site to other experiences in their life.
  • Dynamic discovery. How do you reach customers who are searching for goods you sell, who have viewed your products, who have abandoned shopping carts or who are past buyers?

Health & Wellness

Inclusive Health & Wellness

Inequality is in the spotlight now more ever before and we literally can observe it in Health & Wellness. Typically, products have been designed for the average or ideal person. But consumers are no longer accepting this one-size-fits all approach. They’re pushing Health & Wellness products and services to become accessible and designed for all genders, body types, ethnic and racial makeups.

Steps you can take as an advertiser:


Nostalgia trippin'

Uncertainty during the pandemic left people searching for comfort in the things that they knew. That includes searching for and planning future vacations to places they have already been and now dream of going back to. These nostalgia trips are something that will continue to grow in 2021 as consumers slowly ease back into travel and new experiences.

Steps you can take as an advertiser:


Blended experience

2020 forced everything that could live in digital into digital. Live performances, socialising and other events won't just stop existing in these new formats. In fact, we will see technology platforms continue to blend in 2021 until we don't have proper labels for them.

Steps you can take as an advertiser:

  • What are your plans for an omnichannel experience? What is both your demand and supply side strategy?
  • Read about how to define your content streaming strategy with search.


Income polarisation

Inequality has been a major focus in 2020 and will continue to be in 2021. With many facing hardship globally during the pandemic, and several economists noting a K-shaped economic recovery at the same time, people took notice. The drastic income polarisation that exists won't stop being a topic of discussion in 2021. People want to know what will be done to stop the financial divides that continue to widen.

Steps you can take as an advertiser:

  • Does your business offer payment plans? Are you thinking about how to help increase growth by reading our Guide to Growth in 2021?
  • Keep a lookout for our upcoming K-shaped economic research on Microsoft Advertising Insights.
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