Everyone has their lists and predictions for the New Year — bye bye 2011 and hello 2012. That said, as the world of marketing becomes more complex and as the various lexicons, buzz-words, and catch phrases gain momentum, I want to keep you abreast of some of those terms, trends, and insights … for now and into the future.
Ideally, trends, findings, and insights help marketers, CEOs, researchers, and anyone else interested in the future of business and consumerism, to dream up new goods, services and experiences for their customers. And in retail, everything begins and ends with how to engage customers and keep them coming back.
In 2012, several emerging consumer megatrends are driving the way retailers market to—and interact with—their customers. Understanding consumer motivations, wants, needs, and desires is critical to engaging them and anticipating the ways in which they prefer to interact with brands.
And … as I said, whether or not these trends take a full hold in the marketplace or not, I want you to know about them and let them open your mind to what people are trying out there.
Case in point: the following megatrends from Trendwatching (a trend firm that scans the globe for promising consumer trends, insights, and related hands-on business ideas) highlight evolving consumer expectations; they also provide some guidance on how, and where, businesses can adapt their customer engagement strategies accordingly:
Online—As a megatrend of megatrends, the online revolution that began with the rise of the Web in the mid-90s has made an astonishing impact on consumer culture and behaviour. Today, we take online capabilities for granted, and you may be wondering why such an established development is listed as a trend here. But consider this: the structure, processes, and applications of the Internet have shattered previously stable notions about price, choice, availability, size, place, privacy, and time. This is only the beginning. The way people communicate, research, and consume has changed forever.
Personal Customization—Technology is empowering individuals to take more control over products, services, and experiences than ever before. Consumers are customizing the ways in which they interact with brands, and these opportunities are unlocking their desires to be "you-nique."
Authenticity—Fed a steady diet of corporate messaging for years, disillusioned consumers have had enough and are seeking authenticity and honesty from brands. Experienced consumers have instant access to an open and opinionated world, and they expect brands to serve, help, be good, and be real.
Filtering and Alerts—In a world of information abundance, many consumers still feel that they exist in a state of information scarcity. Why? Because useful, timely, and accessible information is still rare. Expect consumers to embrace tools that can check, track, or alert them to relevant, interesting, and personalized information.
Games—Consumers are embracing "gamification" in all aspects of their daily lives. Games are fun and entertaining; they let players visualize progress while satisfying fundamental needs and desires for reward, status, achievement, self-expression, competition, and altruism.
Total Information Access—For both consumers and brands today, knowledge is power. Consumers now have access to anything they ever need or want to know about specific brands, products, services, or experiences. In addition, brands can now engage with consumers to deliver better, more tailored, and timelier products, services, or experiences.
Curation—With a flood of innovative products and desirable experiences being developed for ever smaller niches, time-starved consumers need more help in making the right choices. Whether it’s brands or other consumers, audiences are embracing anything that helps them discover what they want.
Personal Networks—In ever-more sophisticated ways, consumers are tapping into their networks of friends, fans, and followers to discover, discuss, and purchase products and services. It has never been more important for brands to make sure that they have the F-Factor.
Immediacy—The consumer desire for instant gratification is being satisfied by technologies that are reducing time frames to minutes, if not seconds. As a result, brands have no choice but to embrace the "now" more fully.
Experiences—Increasingly, experiences rather than things that are fixed drive consumers. Through entertainment and discovery, consumers want to be freed from the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions. The fixed has been replaced by the here-and-now, shorter periods of satisfaction, and a desire to collect as many experiences and stories as possible.
Quality of Life—For many established consumers who have satisfied their basic material needs, consumption has become a path to self-esteem and self-actualization rather than a necessity. These consumers increasingly realize that the good life cannot be measured in purely material terms; they make purchasing decisions based on health, wellness, environmental impact, and wisdom.
Brand/Consumer Collaboration—The traditional distinction between producers and consumers (and actors and audiences) is blurring as brands join with other brands, and consumers join with other consumers. To succeed, brands must encourage and share the rewards for these creative collaborations that cross the usual boundaries.
How do you see these megatrends affecting your business in 2012?