Eleven Trends for 2011

Eleven key consumer trends to watch in 2011 include acts of kindness from brands, the developed world launching products for emerging economies, and online status symbols, according to consumer insights firm trendwatching.com.

Following is a brief overview of each of the 11 consumer trends which trendwatching.com predicts will have a global impact on marketers in 2011.

1.Random acts of kindness: Consumers’ cravings for realness, for the human touch, ensure that everything from brands randomly picking up the tab to sending a surprise gift will be one of the most effective ways to connect with (potential) customers in 2011, especially beleaguered consumers in North America, Europe and Japan.

trendwatching.com advises that the rapid spread of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook among consumers gives brands previously unavailable insight into their moods, wants and locations, and also provides a new direct channel to deliver acts of kindness.

2.Urbanization: Urbanization remains one of the absolute mega trends for the coming decade, with about the global population currently living in urban areas. Urban consumers tend to be more daring, more liberal, more tolerant, more experienced, more prone to trying out new products and services. In emerging markets, these effects tend to be even more pronounced, with new arrivals finding themselves distanced from traditional social and familial structures, while constantly exposed to a wider range of alternatives.

3.Pricing Pandemonium: Mobile devices and social networks allow consumers to constantly receive targeted offers and discounts, even at the point of sale from a rival brand, as well as join interest groups. Brands should target consumers with offers and features such as instant mobile coupons and discounts, online group discounts, flash sales, and dynamic pricing based on real-time supply and demand.

4.Made for China/Emerging Economies: In 2011, expect an increasing number of ‘Western’ brands to launch new products or even new brands dedicated to consumers in emerging markets. Growth in consumer spending in emerging markets far outpaces consumer spending in developed markets, and Western brands are favored more than local brands in emerging markets. Western brands including Levi-Strauss, Apple and BMW have already capitalized on this trend.

5.Online Status Symbols: In 2011, trendwatching.com recommends that brands supply customers with any kind of symbol, virtual or ‘real world,’ that helps them display to peers their online contributions, interestingness, creations or popularity. This includes personalized social networking memorabilia as well as location-based games and contests which award virtual or real-world prizes.

6.’Wellthy:’ Growing numbers of consumers will expect health products and services in 2011 to prevent misery if not improve their quality of life, rather than merely treating illnesses and ailments. Products such as mobile health monitoring devices, as well as online health apps and health-dedicated social networks, will serve the multichannel wellness needs of consumers.

7.‘Twin-sumers’ and ‘Social-lites:’ Both of these types of online consumers identified by trendwatching.com are critical to spreading positive word-of-mouth recommendations. Twin-sumers are consumers with similar consumer patterns, likes and dislikes, and who are hence valuable sources for recommendations on what to buy and experience, while social-lites are consumers who consistently broadcast information to a wide range of associates online.

8.Emerging Generosity: This trend is about brands and wealthy individuals from emerging markets (especially China) who will increasingly be expected to give, donate, care and sympathize, as opposed to just sell and take. And not just in their home countries, but on a global scale. It’s a profound cultural change and a consumer demand that their counterparts in mature markets have had a few years to getting used to.

9.Planned Spontaneity: With lifestyles having become fragmented, with dense urban environments offering consumers any number of instantly available options, and with cell /smartphones having created a generation who have little experience of making (or sticking to) rigid plans, 2011 will see what trendwatching.com calls full-on “planned spontaneity.”

Brands can expect to see consumers in 2011 rushing to sign up to services (the planned part) that allow for endless and almost effortless mass mingling with friends, family, colleagues or strangers (the spontaneity part). A developing segment of this trend is consumers signing up for mobile services that passively and constantly broadcast their location.

10.Eco-Superior: When it comes to ‘green consumption’, brands should expect a rise in “eco-superior” products; products that are not only eco-friendly, but superior to polluting incumbents in every possible way. Trendwatching.com says brands should think of a combination of eco-friendly yet superior functionality, superior design, and/or superior savings.

11:Owner-less: Fractional ownership and lifestyle leasing business models have re-emerged, with services such as car-sharing and public bike programs enjoying success around the globe. For many consumers, access is better than ownership.

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10 Branding Trends for ’10

Though US economists are cautiously predicting an uptick in consumer spending next year, the post-recession landscape will present brand marketers with new challenges, new engagement realities and new rules, and will increase pressure to prove how and why branded products deliver value, according to Dr. Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys.
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Using what Passikoff calls “predictive loyalty metrics” gleaned from consumer data his firm collects, Brandkeys analyzed the likely consumer values, needs and expectations for the next 12-18 months and offered the following 10 trends:
  1. Value is the new black: Consumer spending, even on sale items, will continue to be replaced by a reason-to-buy at all. This may spell  trouble for brands with no authentic meaning, whether high-end or low.
  2. Brands are increasingly a surrogate for value: What makes goods and services valuable will increasingly be what’s wrapped up in the brand and what it stands for.
  3. Brand differentiation is brand value: The unique meaning of a brand will increase in importance as generic
    features continue to propagate in the brand landscape. Awareness as a meaningful market force has long been obsolete, and differentiation will be critical for sales and profitability.
  4. “Because I said so” is over: Brand values can be established as a brand identity, but they must believably exist in the mind of the consumer. A brand can’t just say it stands for something and make it so. The consumer will decide, making it more important than ever for a brand to have measures of authenticity that will aid in brand differentiation and consumer engagement.
  5. Consumer expectations are growing: Brands are barely keeping up with consumer expectations now. Every day consumers adopt and devour the latest technologies and innovations, and hunger for more. Smarter marketers will identify and capitalize on unmet expectations. Those brands that understand where the strongest expectations exist will be the brands that survive and prosper.
  6. Old tricks don’t – and won’t – work anymore: Consumers are on to brands trying to play their emotions for profit. In the wake of the financial debacle of this past year, people are more aware then ever of the hollowness of bank ads that claim “we’re all in this together” when those same banks have rescinded their credit and turned their retirement plan into case studies. The same is true for insincere celebrity pairings – such as Seinfeld & Microsoft or Tiger Woods & Buick. Celebrity values and brand values instead need to be in concert.
  7. Consumers won’t need to know a brand to love it: As the buying space becomes even more online-driven and international (and uncontrolled by brands and corporations), front-end awareness will become less important. A brand with the right street credibility can go viral in days, with awareness following -  not leading – the conversation.
  8. It’s not just buzz: Conversation and community is increasingly important, and if consumers trust the community, they will extend trust to the brand. This means not just word of mouth, but the right word of mouth within the community. This has significant implications for future of customer service.
  9. Consumers talk with each other before talking with brands: Social networking and exchange of information outside of the brand space will increase. This – at least in theory – will mean more opportunities for brands to get involved in these spaces and meet customers where they are.
  10. Engagement is not a fad; It’s the way today’s consumers do business: Marketers will come to accept that there are four engagement methods: The platform (TV; online), the context (program; webpage), the message (ad or communication), and the experience (store/event). At the same time, they also will realize that brand engagement will become impossible using out-dated attitudinal models.
Another study from Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, similarly proclaims that “value is the new black,” predicting that post-recession shoppers will transform into “value hunters” as they look for true value and meaning from brands, rather than just discounts.
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Target Gives New Life To Potboilers, WalMart Turns Up The Heat

Target, which has long built its reputation on its eye for good design, is further distinguishing itself as a purveyor of finer taste (by big box retailer standards, at least). The 1,700 location chain is using its ‘Bookmarked Club Pick‘ program to turn its loyal shoppers into rabid readers—and catapulting unwitting authors into significant sales territory at the same time. By positioning Target-exclusive editions in prominent shelving locations throughout stores, authors like Tatiana de Rosnay—whose initial dud Sarah’s Key went on to sell 145,000 copies through Bookmarked—are finding themselves with a second chance at a literary career.
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Walmart has launched an aggressive push to have marketers divert their consumer media and marketing budgets into the giant retailer’s growing ad budget and in-store marketing programs, using a simultaneous push to clear underperforming brands off its shelves as extra leverage.
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