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.
Emerging Economies Provide Consumer Innovations
Emerging economies are an increasingly important source of consumer innovations, according to earlier findings from trendwatching.com. The company cites a number of statistics to support its premise that emerging economies are becoming a major source of consumer innovations that will have a global impact. For example, these economies have accounted for nearly 70% of world growth during the last five years, accounted for 34% of global GDP in 2010 and will account for 39% in 2015, and will account for two-thirds of world trade in 2050.
In addition, trendwatching.com says emerging economies contain a growing middle class of 2 billion people who spend $6.9 trillion USD annually. That figure is expected to rise to $20 trillion by 2050.