5 Business Trends Every Chamber of Commerce Must Leverage in 2022

Business trends are important because we need to understand them and leverage them whenever we want to grow our business community. It’s especially vital when we look back to the end of 2020 and how 2021 seemed like it would be the bright future we all needed.

And yet here we are in a very similar position to where we were last year. We need something to look forward to and knowing the business trends will help us to do just that. Let’s get our creativity flowing and encourage discussion around the predictions.

In this article, we’ve compiled 5 trend predictions from top business resources that apply to membership, business, and community.

You may want to borrow from this list and share these ideas with your members (perhaps they are the seed for a lunch and learn idea or business forum). Start thinking about how they may fit your chamber or shape your offerings. Talk to thought leaders in your community and see if they agree with these trends. You could get a lively discussion going or use these to inspire guest posts, commentary, and/or social media post questions.

2022 Business Trends to Watch For

Airline Travel Will Be More Expensive (Financial Times)

This past holiday season saw many flights grounded. Between staff outages due to COVID, increased fuel prices, and an aging pilot population facing mandatory retirement age, the airlines are struggling to keep up with the demand of people looking forward to travel after 18 months of limitations.

If demand is high and the capabilities to fulfill demand are limited, you can expect an increase in price to separate those who want to travel and those who must travel.

This is likely going to impact travel, especially when coupled with rising gas prices. There may be a need to switch from marketing to people who will travel a distance to your community to targeting staycationers again.

Infographic about staycations shown as an example of one of the business trends.
Infographic by BedAndBreakfast.com, full image available here.

Shop Small Will Be Seen as a Community-building Movement and Lifestyle

Many people have embraced shopping small and shopping local since COVID knocked on our doors nearly two years ago. Shop small has received large-scale support and promotion by chambers, the news media, business associations, large companies, and government agencies.

In some communities shop small/local will become more than just a mantra used around the holidays. Even the “Small Business Season” idea is continually expanding.

Shopping small will continue to evolve through the efforts of chambers to become a lifestyle commitment in much the same way people have made life-altering decisions to eat clean. It’s not something you do once. A commitment to small or local is something that goes into every purchasing decision you make.

There will also be a growing effort to make shopping local more available and efficient for everyone. For instance, it’s easier to buy a book from Amazon than going to your local bookstore. But now there is an app where you can buy books and support your local bookstore at the same time, even if they don’t use any sort of e-commerce platform. We’ll see more of this over the next year, finally removing the excuse of not shopping local because it’s not as convenient as shopping at big retail online.

Speaking of retail and online shopping…

Social Commerce and Live-streaming Will Grow into Shoptainment (Forbes)

Excerpt from Social Commerce Statistics article, full version available at 16best.net

Excerpt from Social Commerce Statistics article, full version available at 16best.net

With online shopping hitting record numbers in 2021, and concern over yet another variant growing, it’s no surprise that prognosticators are envisioning more online activity and sales especially through “social commerce.”

Amir Kabbara, the Director of Product for Shopify believes that, “2022 is the year that we’ll see the social commerce model—deeply embedded commerce that meets consumers where they are and is non-disruptive to their experience—spread to more platforms and more industries.” Social shopping is already one of the fastest growing e-commerce areas.

Social shopping is a business trend where shoppers or influencers are browsing with “friends” (or an audience) and sharing what they’re most interested in, hottest trends, new finds, etc. It’s similar to the home shopping concept used by QVC or HSN but online through multiple platforms.

Social shopping allows for an interactive component that home shopping could only do through phone calls broadcasted during shows. Plus, home shopping, while it runs 24 hours a day, misses out on someone being able to shop on their schedule where ever they are. Social shopping allows this assuming they have an internet connection.

Social shopping creates more personal interactions between brand and shopper, while also blurring the lines between entertainment and shopping. There are a lot of opportunities for smaller businesses to begin thinking about how they can connect with their audience in more unique and entertaining ways.

Live-streaming and membership sales may even be something you might consider when it comes to events and networking functions. Showing “those at home” the types of fun they can have during chamber mixers or live-streaming from a member business that offers a hot deal for members only may offer a new way to connect and interest potential members.

Hybrid Shopping Experiences Will End the Divide Between In-person and Online Shopping (Forbes)

If you visit a brick-and-mortar location that sells pricey items like electronics, you may have witnessed people walking up and down the aisles glued to their phones. Sure, some of them might be living their best Insta life, but the savvy shoppers among them are likely comparing prices in store to online. And pricing isn’t the only thing they’re checking. They may be looking at reviews or how-to/use videos.

Image of woman shopping with a smart phone as an example of the hybrid shopping business trend.

This is the “hybrid shopping” trend. It’s become a routine practice to shop online and in-person looking for the perfect combination of best price, research, and most convenient ways to receive the products.

Smaller businesses don’t have to be blocked out of hybrid shopping. They can easily incorporate helpful online components to in-person shopping, creating a more robust shopping experience. For instance, the brick and mortar business can add signs with QR codes to popular items in store for shoppers to scan. These codes may go to links for video reviews or suggestions made by popular influencers. Businesses could also create photo ops with prop signs that read, “this or that” to take a quick pic of two products and post it to social channels to crowdsource their in-person shopping.

Just as some chambers are considering hybrid event ideas, businesses may do well to consider the same in shopping and dining. Today’s customer is never alone, even if they are physically unaccompanied.

Emotional Intelligence and Empathy Will Drive Business

No matter how efficient online shopping is, its missing the human presence.

Business automation is still not (yet) about to replace a genuine friendly face.

That’s why so many people have turned to socializing online shopping. But another way small business will win the day in 2022 is through emotional intelligence and empathy. And this goes beyond greeting each customer with a smile and a pleasant comment.

Emotional intelligence and empathy is also one of the top management skills required right now for all types of businesses. With the hiring crises continuing, it will take empathy and building a culture that values emotional intelligence to stand out as an employer of choice. Those skills are also important when leading a team, whether those teams are in-person or virtual.

These skills are also highly valuable as a chamber professional. Addressing emotional situations with care and concern can help make businesses feel like the chamber isn’t just a business association. It is one focused on community and support as well.

As we enter into 2022, what is your focus?

How will you continue to provide members and your community with the solutions they need?

How will you market those solutions?

The answers to some of those questions may lie in extending empathy, creating more social opportunities, and incorporating hybrid solutions.

No one knows exactly what 2022 will bring based on the pandemic but these business trends can help you be better prepared to meet the future.