If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that one of my strongest beliefs is that an agency should be more than just a "creater of ads". They must help their clients build a bridge between their customers and their brand in all communication areas.
Clients can be overwhelmed by the pace of change and the impact of new communications technologies. Smart agencies can help to fill that role, and build client loyalty in the process.
One way to do that is to follow companies that look at future trends, like Trendwatching.com, an
"independent and opinionated (their description) trend firm, scanning the globe for the most
promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas."
Their monthly Trend Briefings are always fun and thought-provoking, and,
from my experience, are usually on the leading edge of consumer
behavior trends.Their most recent briefing report was a
compilation of trends they have been observing over the past year. Here
is a quick summary of what they feel are 12 trends that marketers
should be watching closely.
1. Get ready for all-things China.
In addition to dominating manufacturing, Chinese tourists will reach 100
million by 2020. In 2012, department stores, airlines, hotels, theme
parks, and museums will roll out the red carpet showering Chinese
visitors and customers with tailored services and perks.
2. Consumers get personal about health with DIY monitoring and diagnosis.
the coming year, expect to see consumers take advantage of new
technologies and apps to discreetly and continuously track, manage and
be alerted to, any changes in their personal health. New apps are being
introduced almost daily designed to help you avoid a trip to the
doctor, which may or may not be all that good. But it’s happening.
3. What's the deal?
2012, not only will consumers continue to hunt for deals and discounts,
but they will do so with increased fervor and pride. Deals are now about more
than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and
the perceived smartness, and thus a potential source of status that will drive sales in the coming year.
4. Recycling becomes a viable marketing tool.
times of recession, economic interests have generally tended to
overshadow eco-causes, but the quest for a more sustainable lifestyle
will remain a pressing issue for years to come. One ‘green’ trend to
watch in 2012 are brands helping consumers recycle by
taking back all old items from customers, and then actually doing
something constructive with them.
A great example is Nike’s
trailblazing Reuse-A-Shoe program. Nike has collected and recycled over
25 million pairs of worn-out Nike shoes to-date. Old shoes are sliced,
separated and ground up into a material called Nike Grind, which is then
used in creating athletic and playground surfaces, as well as a variety
of Nike products. Look for other brands to join this trend in 2012.
5. A cash-less society gets closer to reality.
We will continue our march toward a cashless future, as major players such as MasterCard and Google build a whole new eco-system of payments, rewards and offers around
new mobile technologies. For consumers, the initial lure will be
convenience, but eventually mobile payments will create an entirely new
data-driven eco-system of rewards, purchase history, deals, etc.
6. Lower-income urbanites become a new marketing target.
Marketers are finally discovering the global opportunities for brands which cater to the
hundreds of millions of lower-income consumers, a heretofore ignored target group. In
2012, expect more lower income consumers to demand innovation tailored to their unique circumstances, from
health issues to lack of space to the need for durability.
7. Crowdsourcing will expand as a marketing and communications tool.
2012, count on the crowdsourcing trend to continue to shake up business
processes and spawn innovations in new areas. After all, being given a
chance to contribute, or to be a part of something bigger than
themselves, has always been popular with people. Expect to see more initiatives in 2012 that make it simple (if
not effortless) to contribute to anything, from pinpointing roads in
need of repairs to finding signs of extraterrestrial life.
8. Brand transparency, and humanity, will be consumer favorites.
2011 saw new levels of consumer disdain at too many business'
self-serving actions, stories of businesses doing good (think Patagonia
and Ben & Jerry's) remind consumers that personality and profit can
be compatible. In fact, in 2012 consumers won't expect brands to be
flawless; they will even embrace brands that are are honest about their
flaws (think Dominos), and support brands that show some empathy,
generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humor and dare we say it,
some character and humanity.
9. Touchscreen technology becomes “high touch”.
to the continued explosion of touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and the
cloud, 2012 will see new touchscreen technology that is not only more
pervasive, but more personal, more immersive and more interactive than
ever. In 2012, we see touchscreens as an interface to a world where consumers will care more about the screen and what’s being accessed through it, than the brand.
10. 'Trading in' is the new black in 2012.
never been easier for savvy consumers to resell or trade in past
purchases, and unlock the value in their current possessions. In 2012,
‘trading in’ will continue to become an alternative to buying. Consumers have
always resold large, durable goods like cars and houses; but in 2012,
almost anything is ripe for resale, from electronics to clothes, and
11. Risque becomes less risky and more accepted around the globe.
cultural differences will continue to shape consumer desires,
middle-class and/or younger consumers in almost every market will
embrace brands that push the boundaries. Expect frank, risqué or
non-corporate products, services and campaigns from emerging markets to
be on the rise in 2012. Consumers in mature consumer societies have
generally been more willing to handle much more honest conversations,
more daring innovations, more quirky flavors, more risqué experiences,
but in 2012, consumers in emerging markets will increasingly appreciate
brands that push the boundaries.”
12. Consumers will demand instant visual information gratification.
need and expectation for instant information and instant access to
everything one wants to know is already deeply ingrained in the today’s
consumer. 2012 will see a mix of apps and QR codes bringing information
about objects that consumers encounter in the real world instantly. And
like some other trends, it’s the rise of the smartphone that will fuel this full-blown access to everything.
As the authors of the latest Trendwatching briefing point out, "We’re not saying there are only
12 consumer trends to track in 2012; there are dozens of important
consumer trends worth knowing about and applying at any given time of
the year. We merely bring you a selection to get going."
I hope this recap gives you ideas on how to approach your clients and prospects. Today's information overload and digital technology makes it imperative for someone to take the lead in understanding what changes marketers should be exploring today to be ready for tomorrow.
Is your agency ready to provide that kind of support?