According trendwatching.com, 'trends' still can mean everything from 'Ageing populations in Central-Europe' to 'Spring 2012's skirt lengths', but this report focuses on consumer trends. Not macro trends. Trends don't just 'emerge' on 1 January or end on 31 December, says the report. All trends are constantly evolving, and all of the content in the report is one way or another already happening.
Major consumer trends are more like currents than one-time killer waves, there are only 11 consumer trends to track in 2011, there are dozens of important consumer trends worth knowing about and applying at any given time of the year.
None of these trends apply to all consumers, and trend watching is about applying. About innovations. It's hands-on.
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. Here's a brief overview of each of the 11 consumer trends which trendwatching.com predicts will have a global impact on marketers in 2011.
1. 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. The report 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 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.
"Today, half the world's population - 3 billion people - lives in urban areas. Close to 180,000 people move into cities daily, adding roughly 60 million new urban dwellers each year." says Intuit, October 2010. And, keep a close eye out for Urban Islands. Just 100 cities currently account for 30% of the world's economy, and almost all its innovation.
3. Mobile devices and social networks allow consumers to constantly receive targeted offers and discounts, even at the point of sale from a rival brand.
4. An increasing number of ‘Western' brands expect 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.
5. 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. 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. In 2011, word of mouth and recommendations will be even more dependent on P2P dynamics. 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. Brands and wealthy individuals from emerging markets (especially China) are increasingly 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. With lifestyles having become fragmented and dense urban environments offering consumers any number of instantly available options, and with smartphones having created a generation who have little experience of making or sticking to rigid plans, 2011 will see what trendwatching.com calls "planned spontaneity."
Brands can expect to see consumers in 2011 rushing to sign up to services that allow for endless and almost effortless mass mingling with friends, family, colleagues or strangers. A developing segment of this trend is consumers signing up for mobile services that passively and constantly broadcast their location.
For consumers, knowing where they are and what's / who's around them is the key to planned spontaneity. That's about to get a whole lot easier, as geo-location becomes a key feature of social networks and web apps from existing providers adding location information:
10. 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. The number of consumers actively seeking out 'green' products is reaching a plateau, as mainstream consumers start to question the value and efficiency of going green:
11. 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 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.
For more detail, sources and suggestions on use of this trend information, please visit Trendwatching.com here.