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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Anomaly Leaves Second Life

Yes, I can announce that the Anomaly avatars have left the building … their “Company HQ” in the Tenjin sim has been vacated. Unbeknownst to many (they didn’t talk about it much) Anomaly were actually fairly early adopters of Second Life. They bought a plot (near to PSFK Island, as it ‘appens) back in 2005 I think. If they called themselves an Ad Agency, they could probably claim to be the first to have built an office in this part of the metaverse. I discussed it briefly with Anomaly partner Johnny Vulkan, who by that stage was fairly dismissive of the opportunities the virtual world offered marketers. Their only client to venture in to Second Life was Enviga (against Anomaly’s advice). Enviga eventually built a large green Enviga-drinking robot in Anomaly HQ and left it at that.

anomaly

Purple pundit Piers Fawkes of PSFK (indulge me in my aliteration) was also eventually underwhelmed by Second Life. Anomaly neighbour and virtual pioneer Piers at one stage referred to himself as a “big time property developer” and “marketing consultant” in Second Life. He was quoted some time later as saying that “Second Life [wasn't] much good for marketers“, presumably something he had learnt from experience. That said, his (rather ramshackle looking, slightly vandalised) virtual island HQ remains.

psfk-second-life

Who else is left? Crayon’s slightly stalinist-looking and underpopulated sim (traffic count: 32) remains. Crayon claimed to be the first agency to launch in Second Life (and indeed, the launch itself was actually held there). To my knowledge Crayon’s only Second Life client engagement was Coke’s Virtual Thirst, an effort which received mixed reviews at best.

crayonville

Leo Burnett at one stage built a giant tree (replete with caged birds and apples) but they have now also departed. Their space was apparently envisioned as a place for international collaboration.

burnett-sl

BBH built a (rather bland looking) office back in 2006 – also claiming to be the “first” – and said office for the moment is still there. It actually looks fairly well maintained, if unevolved and sterile. The only evidence of client involvement is a rather large Levi’s poster.

bbh-second-life

My views on marketing through Second Life? Well, I’d start by saying “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. There seems to be a dichotomy between those who piled in to Second Life without thinking it through particularly well (net result: lots of money spent and little to show) and those who rejected it out of hand (net result: nothing spent and nothing learned).

As with any marketing experience, success depends on objectives. Want to reach a lot of people quickly? Second Life probably isn’t for you. Want to reach and connect with tech-savvy 30-something virtual world enthusiasts (hey, someone might) then it might make sense.

Thoughts?

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Hipsters, GTbyCITROEN, Photomake, Gates v PC, TV Ads Work

Hipsters Will Save Our Economy

In a rather striking article this week, Forbes recognizes hipsters as possibly the one demographic group that’s still happily consuming, at least in the retail sector. The article argues that while hipsters – here very broadly defined – might not make a lot of money now, they are a huge, powerful consumer group, and marketing dollars spent to capture them now will likely pay off in the future. Not to mention the fact that, even today, retailers which cater to the “creative class” are thriving while the rest of the retail industry struggles:

The gaming world merged with reality this week at the Paris auto show with the unveiling of the GTbyCITROËN. The sportscar is the first ever car to be specifically designed to bring the virtual and real worlds together. The French car maker partnered with Polyphony Digital Inc, the creators of the Gran Turismo series to stretch their creative vision.The exterior design of the car is a modern look at a racing coupe. The concept uses sharp body lines and dynamic shapes to communicate performance and speed. In the game version the car is powered by a zero emission fuel cell and electric drivetrain. There’s no word on if the physical prototype runs. For now the ‘Citroën GT’ represents one automaker embracing the gaming world and testing out how to potentially integrate it into product development.
Photomake is a very cool web service that will translate line drawings into solid objects. Like a 2 dimensional version of Shapeways, the site makes it really easy to create unique objects. All you have to do is draw something, scan it – or even take a photo of it, upload it to the site, and in a few days you’ll have a custom item. They offer a bunch of different subsrtes including 17 different colors of acrylic, styrene and plywood. People have been making all kinds of interesting objects with photomake, like jewelery, furniture and art sculptures.

Why Microsoft’s Gates/Seinfeld Went Viral and ‘I’m a PC’ Ads Didn’t
According to Visible Measures, which charts online video viewing trends and has measured the videos associated with Microsoft’s $300 million ad campaign, the Seinfeld/Gates ads are squashing the “I’m a PC” ads by a margin of 4.3 million viral video views. Both ads had about equal video placements (about 75 each). Visible Measures points out that while the Seinfeld/Gates clips came out two weeks earlier than the “I’m a PC” ads, Seinfeld/Gates drew twice as many viewers their first week in market than the PC ads did. After two weeks in market, Visible Measures says, “Seinfeld/Gates was still collecting more than 700,000 views per day, while the ‘I’m a PC’ clips had tapered off to less than 50,000 views per day.” Why might this be? Microsoft sparked a dialogue in the Seinfeld ad that isn’t there in PC ads.

Now a neuromarketing study finds that viewers aren’t zoning out, but actually pay attention to ads when hitting their fast-forward button. “Our conclusion was that people don’t skip ads,” said Carl Marci, cofounder and CEO of Innerscope Research. “They’re just processing them differently.”

New Business Models: Instructables, Popcuts

  • A new restaurant project has joined the crowdsourcing fray: Arne Hendriks is asking fellow members of Instructables to participate in creating a restaurant in Amsterdam. In his words: “I will open an open-source restaurant that is completely made of, and only serves food based on the original instructables all the members on instructables.com have made or will make. I mean, every chair, dishwasher, menu card, light etc and all the food, will together be the restaurant. And I would like to ask you guys for your brilliant, funny, original ideas concerning all aspects restauranty. Inside the restaurant everything will be presented with the original instruction and accreditation to the maker.”
  • instructables

  • Popcuts is a new site that has a unique business model for its users. The approach essentially rewards trendsetters for spotting new music that later becomes popular. Let’s say you buy a song you like soon after the artist uploads it for the industry standard 99 cents; as it becomes popular you are rewarded for being an early fan and consumer. The credit you receive for your trend spotting is dependent on the point you jump on the bandwagon.