Ten crucial consumer trends for 2010
Trendwatching.com offers the top 10 trends to look out for in the coming year, spotting more recession-proof opportunities than ever before.
Business as usual
Forget the recession: the societal changes that will dominate 2010 were set in motion way before we temporarily stared into the abyss.
In 2010, prepare for ‘business as unusual’. For the first time, there’s a global understanding, if not a feeling of urgency that sustainability, in every possible meaning of the word, is the only way forward. How that should or shouldn’t impact consumer societies is of course still part of a raging debate, but at least there is a debate.
Meanwhile, in mature consumer societies, companies will have to do more than just embrace the notion of being a good corporate citizen. To truly prosper, they will have to ‘move with the culture’. This may mean displaying greater transparency and honesty, or having conversations as opposed to one-way advertising, or championing collaboration instead of an us-them mentality. Or, it could be intrinsically about generosity versus greed, or being a bit edgy and daring as opposed to safe and bland.
Time to study and learn from those brands that you think are already mirroring today's more diverse, chaotic, networked society, and then outdo them ;-)
Urban culture is the culture. Extreme urbanization, in 2010, 2011, 2012 and far beyond will lead to more sophisticated and demanding consumers around the world.
A defining trend for 2010, 2011, 2012, and so on: urbanization on steroids. We'll let the numbers speak for themselves:
- "Less than five per cent of the world’s population lived in cities a century ago. In 2008, for the first time in humanity, that figure exceeded 50 per cent. In the last two decades alone, the urban population of the developing world has grown by an average of three million people per week.”
- “By 2050, it will have reached 70 per cent, representing 6.4 billion people. Most of this growth will be taking place in developing regions; Asia will host 63 percent of the global urban population, or 3.3 billion people in 2050.” (Source: the Global Report on Human Settlements 2009, October 2009.)
Where will this lead us? We’ve dubbed this extreme push towards urbanization ‘URBANY', representing a global consumer arena inhabited by billions of experienced and newly-minted urbanites. The significance?
A forever-growing number of more sophisticated, more demanding, but also more try-out-prone, super-wired urban consumers are snapping up more ‘daring’ goods, services, experiences, campaigns and conversations.
And thanks to near-total online transparency of the latest and greatest, those consumers opting to remain in rural areas will be tempted to act (and shop) online like urban consumers, too.
Whatever it is you're selling or launching in 2010, it will be reviewed 'en masse', live, 24/7.
We recently highlighted nowism*, and while that mega-trend in its entirety should be on your radar for the next 12 months, let’s dive into one sub-trend that will be truly disruptive: the rise of real-time reviews.
In short, with even more people sharing, in real time, everything they do, buy, listen to, watch, attend, wear and so on, and with even more search engines and tracking services making it easy to find and group these ‘live dispatches’ by theme, topic or brand, 2010 will see ready-to-buy consumers tapping into a live stream of (first-hand) experiences from fellow consumers.
Consumers’ ingrained lust for instant gratification is being satisfied by a host of novel, important (offline and online) real-time products, services and experiences.As more people are reviewing and contributing, the sheer mass of opinions will lead to a real-time stream of information, findable and viewable to all. In addition, online access and device convergence will allow more on-the-spot reviews.
Consumers who will need more specifics after reading a review, will want to get in direct touch with the reviewer.
So, in 2010, expect numerous services to capitalize on this burgeoning ‘global brain', and its endless real-time reviews and verdicts.
Closely tied to what constitutes status, which itself is becoming more fragmented, luxury will be whatever consumers want it to be over the next 12 months.
In 2010, luxury, and what it means to a bewildering number of ‘consumer segments’, will remain in flux.
What will define luxury over the next few years? The answer is ‘luxury will be whatever you want it to be'. After all, what constitutes luxury is closely related to what constitutes scarcity. And, beyond the basic needs, scarcity is in the eye of the beholder, especially those beholders who are desperately trying to be unique. So don't worry about missing out on the next big thing in luxury, focus on defining it. How? By finding and coining the right (status) trigger for the right audience.
Online lifestyles are fueling 'real world' meet-ups like there's no tomorrow, shattering all predictions about a desk-bound, virtual, isolated future.
More people than ever will be living large parts of their lives online in 2010. Yet, those same people will also mingle, meet up, and congregate more often with other ‘warm bodies’ in the offline world.
In fact, social media and mobile communications are fueling a mass mingling that defies virtually every cliché about diminished human interaction in our ‘online era’.
From a recent Pew report: "When we examine people’s full personal network – their strong ties and weak ties – internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with having a more diverse social network. Again, this flies against the notion that technology pulls people away from social engagement."
Next for mass mingling will be even more impromptu, temporary meet-ups of strangers, mobs and crowds with similar interests, hobbies, political preferences, causes and grievances. Many of these (temporary) meet-ups will revolve around generating public attention, or getting something done. And here too, Twitter will lead the way (tweetmobs, anyone?).
To really reach some meaningful sustainability goals in 2010, corporates and governments will have to forcefully make it 'easy' for consumers to be more green, by restricting the alternatives.
While the current good intentions of corporations and consumers are helpful, serious eco-results will depend on making products and processes more sustainable without consumers even noticing it, and, if necessary, not leaving much room for consumers and companies to opt for less sustainable alternatives to begin with.
Which will often mean forceful, if not painful, government intervention, or some serious corporate guts, or brilliantly smart design and thinking, if not all of those combined.
Think anything from thoroughly green buildings, to a complete ban on plastic bags and bottles, to super-strict bluefin tuna quota — anything that by default leaves no choice, no room for complacency, and thus makes it 'easy' for consumers (and corporations) to do the right and necessary thing.
Tracking and alerting
Tracking and alerting are the new search, and 2010 will see countless new infolust services that will help consumers expand their web of control.
First of all, 'tracking & alerting is the new searching', as it saves consumers time, makes it impossible to forget or miss out, and thus ultimately gives them yet another level of control. Count on everything being tracked and alerted on (there's more than FedEx packages!): from friends (mass mingling!) to enemies to fuel prices to flights to authors to pizzas to any mentions of oneself.
Just one example: Fitbit is a small device the user can wear around the clock for continuous, automatic and comprehensive fitness reporting. With a 3D motion sensor the Fitbit tracks the user's activity in three dimensions and converts that data into useful information. Once this is uploaded onto the Fitbit website, users can view detailed data about their fitness-related activities; they can also enter data about what they've eaten and participate in collaborative fitness goals.
Generation G(enerosity). It was big in 2009, and it will be even bigger in 2010. In particular all things embedded generosity. It incorporates all giving initiatives that make giving and donating painless, if not automatic (after all, pragmatism is the new religion ;-).
On top of that, with collaboration being such an integral part of the zeitgeist, expect lots of innovative corporate giving schemes that involve customers by letting them co-donate and/or co-decide.
An example: Australian Baby Teresa manufactures and sells a variety of 100 percent cotton onesies for babies, and, for each one purchased, donates another to a baby in need somewhere in the world.
With hundreds of millions of consumers now nurturing some sort of online profile, 2010 will be a good year to help them make the most of it (financially), from intention-based models to digital afterlife services.
We’re not referring to companies / advertisers making money from personal profiles (jeez....), even though they’re dying to ‘mine’ personal data to serve up 'relevant' ads; we're putting our money on data and profile mining by its rightful owners, i.e. consumers. Hence the myning, not mining.
Now that hundreds of millions of consumers maintain some kind of online profile/presence, who's going to set up an intermediary representing consumers who are willing to disclose (parts of) their purchasing intentions, and then invite companies to put in bids?
With personal profiles (which are the nucleus of one's personal brand) representing an ever-greater emotional and financial value, expect a burgeoning market for services that protect, store, and, in case of emergencies/death, arrange handing over of one's digital estate to trusted others.
Let’s face it: 2010 will be rawer, more opinionated, more risqué, more in your face than ever before. Audiences (who are by now thoroughly exposed to, well, anything, for which you can thank first and foremost the anything-goes online universe) can handle much more quirkiness, more daring innovations, more risqué communications and conversations, more exotic flavors and so on than traditional marketers could have ever dreamed of. In short; audiences in mature consumer societies no longer tolerate being treated like yesteryear’s uninformed, easily shocked, inexperienced, middle-of-the-road consumer.
We've dubbed this maturialism (mature materialism). So, in 2010, the question is how far can/should a brand go, when mirroring societal beliefs that are about anything but being meek. And no, we’re not saying it has to be rude or nasty or inconsiderate; this is about being a tad more daring and diverse if you want to move with the culture