Last year was a pretty interesting year, simply because of the advancements in Mobile and Social Media as a result of the launch of the iPhone, the growth of Facebook, and an array of other fun developments! Now that 2008 is finally here, we can move past all the forecasting and the pundits' predictions and deal with what's actually happening now, at this very moment. Let's take a moment to review some of the observations of the last few weeks and see what they mean for our consumers in the first quarter of 2008!
First off, multiple sources reported that Cyber Monday was a hit--the largest online shopping day in history, following a relatively lackluster retail season. That means fewer people got up at 4 a.m. to go shopping this holiday season, but they may have stayed up till 4 a.m. taking care of business from home in their pajamas.
With online stores seeing growth and brick-and-mortar starting to see a decline, what will happen to consumer confidence in online shopping? Were the experiences positive or overwhelmingly negative? If you are an e-commerce provider, I highly recommend that Q1--specifically January--be an opportunity for some customer surveys and follow-up activity. The best CRM is the program that keeps a customer in contact with the e-tailer and reads their reactions from this holiday shopping season, telling us what we can expect throughout this and next year. Happy customers will come back, and angry customers will never try it again--so be sure that even those folks who had a negative experience get some positive follow-up, so maybe you can change their points of view.
Apple seems to be creating something of a stir again as we enter into January, and that could have an effect on all personal computing and digital products. Already the stores are filling up with touch-screen iPhone competitors from Verizon, Sprint and every other major phone manufacturer and carrier. Apple's stock rose 135% in 2007, and their stores alone saw a 42% increase in sales from Q4 2006 compared to Q4 2007.
There was a story earlier this week about how Apple has filed for a patent, allowing their iPhones and iPods to become commerce-enabled devices, and all heads and eyes and ears are perking up as MacWorld approaches and speculation begins about what Steve jobs will unveil this year!
All of this has a halo effect on overall consumer electronics, with consumer intrigue driving renewed interest in the new digital products and new ways to utilize digital media--and all of this is positive for our industry as it continues to mature. If you are an advertiser, I would closely watch these announcements over the coming weeks, and keep a budget allocated for the various emerging media platforms which will continue to grow in importance in 2008!
Of course, the only downside to all of this is the possible economic recession and its effects on overall consumer spending and confidence in 2008. The first month of the year will be filled with financial news, which could impact marketing budgets and allocations toward digital media. This, coupled with the ongoing writers' strike, could be a positive or a negative for us. If the strike continues, dollars will undoubtedly be pushed from TV to digital. If a recession steps into place, that spending could go away all together. It's a tenuous balance--but one that we will find interesting, and will come to a head sooner rather than later.
All in all, I am pretty optimistic about 2008, and you should be too. It's going to be a great year filled with evolution and revolution, and I know that I plan to make the most of it!
Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks again for reading the Spin!