JWT Forecasts 2009 Trends

Ann MackThe bad news: the U.S. is in a recession, and global markets and consumer needs are rapidly changing. The good news: the future belongs to those who capitalize on emerging trends and changing behavior. According to Ann Mack, director of trendspotting for JWT, two big areas will impact our lives in the coming year: the environment and technology.

  On a sober note, a dismal economy means that more people will be laid off. Others will be forced to postpone retirement, given shrinking savings, so we'll see more late-stage careers and career changes. "The risk of money running short is a major incentive for consumers to find new ways of enjoying what they have and what they can afford," says Mack.

What can we expect in 2009?

First, she says, companies and the government will pursue energy efficiency; president-elect Barack Obama stressed the issue in his campaign. Not only will alternative energy strategies be part of his administration, it's also part of the private marketplace. T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil billionaire, has invested $58 million in promoting the "Pickens Plan." His goal is to promote widespread adoption of natural gas, solar power and wind power.



Plus, as the U.S. attempts to wean itself off oil dependency, Mack says we can also expect a widespread redistribution of power in almost every major sphere--economic, social and political. Markets to watch: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Closer to home, brands will adopt one word: authenticity. In the wake of the financial crisis, brands need to regain credibility and trust. Even reliable brands have come under attack. Obama successfully pushed the twin themes of authenticity and credibility in his election bid. She says it would be wise for companies to adopt the same strategy.

Also, Mack notes that everything is getting smaller--from cars to mobile technology to packaged-goods. Stores will scale down and push for smaller formats. Mobile will become the next big "everything hub" as cell phone rates drop and wireless broadband expands.

Entertainment will also expand--content will be designed for simultaneous consumption and engagement. It's total immersion time! For instance, authors will suggest playlists to accompany their books.

JWT ranks as the largest ad agency brand in the United States. Its parent company is WPP.


2 comments about "JWT Forecasts 2009 Trends".
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  1. Glauco Tamega from praesto, December 30, 2008 at 5:23 p.m.

    no big news at all.
    happy 2009

  2. Jonathan Anastas from Mercury Media Holdings, December 31, 2008 at 12:54 p.m.

    I feel like some of these trends were written - to some degree - to the country we were in the middle of 2008 and before.

    First, the recession - and the huge drop in energy prices - have taken the private sector drive and consumer wind (pun intended) out of alternative energy and many things Green.

    Private investment: At $40 a barrel oil, Pikens has canceled his Wind programs saying he can't make money; Investment bankers are saying oil-based energy is now "too cheap" to support profit on alternative energy.

    Consumer desire: California (a left-leaning state) defeated both "Green" bills in November. With gas at $1.50, the Ford F-150 just re-claimed the #1 sales spot (after falling in the summer when gas was $5). Sales of the Toyota Prius are off more than 50%, over-indexing Toyota's sales drop in the 30% range (so consumers are rejecting the Hybrid and it's premium cost at a higher rate than the brand overall).

    That leaves Obama's Stimulus plan efforts - along with whatever "supply-side" fuel efficient cars Detroit is forced to make (that will sit on lots unsold like yesterday's SUV) as part of being "State Run" - driving energy efficiency.

    This won't change until the economy improves enough Globally for energy usage to increase, driving another price-hike.

    This "trend" is clearly documented in the last two boom/bust cycles: we ran to small cars, only to run back to the biggies the moment the bust lowered fuel costs.

    On top of that, many, many polls have shown that consumers don't feel able to pay the "Green Premium" right now with cash as king and jobs getting lost. A recent walk down the detergent and paper isle at a Gelson's market in an affluent LA neighborhood showed a sea of "sale" tags for brands like 7th Generation and Planet. Their 30% to 50% price premiums were considered too high for the "Green value" - even among the affluent. Back to Tide.

    "Authenticity" is a word that hasn't gone away since Gen-X demanded it and then the rise of Google and Blogs enforced it. Even in the height of the boom, brands had to "walk the walk" as the "truth" was one search and several clicks away.

    The expansion of entertainment (multiple platforms) is a given. However, here, the challenge is how to make money? The "traditional" channels are down (ad sales, record sales) and consumption is up in the new channels. But dollars are not there yet, so you have higher costs (gotta' make more content for more channels) and lower base revenue (less money the old way, not enough money the new way). Not a great recipe for profit.

    Mobile will grow, but we live in a country where only 15%-20% of Americans have a Smartphone (despite the hype). Texting aside, 80% of Americans don't have a phone that can be anything but a phone. And that's only going to change by 10% at best this year (again, recession may bring down sales of $300 phones). So, Microtrend/affluent trend, not mass trend.

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