J.D. Power Offers Up Social Media Wisdom

J.D. Power and Associates says it has tapped five consumer trends emerging from the social media commentary it has been studying as part of its new online trendspotting division. The company says since consumers access to social networks will accelerate through the proliferation of smartphone and mobile devices, brands have to focus on being on the ball in terms of serving up timely and accurate information accessible on mobile devices.

And consumers are scaling back and favoring simpler, "minimalist" lifestyles over ostentation and excess, per the firm. That means brands and marketers need to focus more strongly on value of products and services, "and tell stories that lead consumers to perceive products as essential to their lifestyles." Also, because of the economiic meltdown, consumers curtailed purchase of more expensive products, at times at the expense of quality. The firm says this year consumers are questioning why low price and high quality have to be mutually exclusive, which means brands that offer both will have an advantage.

With the proliferation of online information and smart devices, consumers are taking greater control over their purchase experiences, and by extension, their lives. "As a result, conveying a sense of empowerment to consumers may be a particularly effective marketing theme," says the firm.

Finally, the firm says traditional notions of life stages are changing and evolving. People are getting married and having kids later in life and redefining retirement. And the firm says about 85% of college graduates in 2011 plan to move back in with parents after graduation. "As a result, marketers must re-evaluate how they segment and target consumers, as traditional perceptions and roles may no longer apply," says the company.