First Buzzword Of 2007: Simplexity
Market researchers believe that 2007 will find consumers seeking out a new trend, which Robbie Blinkoff, managing partner of Context-Based Research Group, is calling simplexity.
"Consumers have been trying to simplify and organize their lives," he says, "but they've also been going down the complexity path, and the two are converging. Simplexity will be a synthesis of the two, yet distinctly different."
While computer geeks have been tossing the word around for some time, it's now a genuine phenomenon among consumers, and explains their passion for brands like Apple's iPod, Skype, and Google's maps.
"People understand that the technology behind these is very complex, but they have the veneer of simplicity," Blinkoff says.
That doesn't mean the simplicity movement has finally jumped the shark, exactly. But as marketing trends go, it is probably time.
After all, the voluntary simplicity movement dates back to the early 1990s. Real Simple launched in 2000. And the Dutch consumer electronics giant Philips Electronics, which even has a Simplicity Advisory Board, has been milking its "Simplicity" campaign since 2004.
"Simplicity is evolving into its next iteration," says Ann Clurman, a senior partner at Yankelovich. "The need for simplicity comes from an overarching need to be in control of your life. And that's not going away."
In fact, the goal of simplicity hasn't just penetrated the popular psyche--it's even got its own color wheel. Pantone Inc. recently released its palettes for the summer of 2008, announcing that "simplicity isn't a trend, it's a necessity. Next season will offer designers escape from fear of plainness and a new acceptance of the power of nothingness. As consumers move away from conspicuous, flamboyant expenditure, they are embracing an attitude of caring, consciousness and relaxation. Understatement will be in."
Translation: Look for ice-like blues, green shades related to aniseed, chlorophyll and menthol, as well as shades that "give way to a childlike, minimalist interpretation."
And while consumers probably aren't walking around bragging about their "escape from the fear of plainness," they are looking for something new.
Marketers should be thinking about all the ways they can "uncomplicate their products," Blinkoff says. "That doesn't mean reducing the number of choices, which doesn't make sense, given how much research people do on the Internet. Nor does it mean having someone else figure it out for them."
So how can marketers tell when they've gotten it right? "People want the ability to sift and sort through all the clutter of choices, and feel like that process was made easy for them," Clurman says.
The only acid test that matters is how the customers feels afterward: "If it's a choice that makes people feel serene," she says, "then they perceive that they have chosen to simplify."