Many in the philanthropic community wonder if the global recession has really, officially ended? And if it has, will the aftermath of the past year(s) cause pain for years to come? The UK’s TrendWatching, recently wrote, “Whatever the outcome, we find ourselves spotting more recession-proof opportunities than ever before. Why? Consumers, recession-stricken or not, still value innovations that are pragmatic, or exciting, or those that save them money, or entertain them.... oh well, you get the picture.”
Trend Watching recently published their 2010 Trend predictions. You know that we at TXNP believes that everything and everyone are intertwined throughout the world. How people twitter or write on their facebook can mean the difference between whether your gala is noticed or not, why it will be/was special, and why people might want to sign up next year (who didn’t chose to attend this year).
How is business going to fare? The trends of generations are important as well. What are they one ones like, you know, the Generation G’s, and what will move them, how do they feel about their responsibility to this planet?
“Trend Watching tracks consumer trends. Not macro trends. Well, actually, we do track those, but we don’t publish extensively about them. To fully prepare for 2010, best thing to do is to first dive into macro trends for the BIG picture (we like McKinsey’s Global Institute, and IMD’s “global challenges” site). After that, absorb as many consumer trends as you can.”
The following is taken from the TrendWatching website:
1. Business as Usual
Forget the recession: the societal changes that will dominate 2010 were set in motion way before we temporarily stared into the abyss. Ruthless capitalism went out of fashion way before the crisis hit In 2010, prepare for ‘business as unusual’.
For the first time, there’s a global understanding, if not a feeling of urgency that sustainability, in every possible meaning of the word, is the only way forward. How that should or shouldn’t impact consumer societies is of course still part of a raging debate, but at least there is a debate. Meanwhile, in mature consumer societies, companies will have to do more than just embrace the notion of being a good corporate citizen. To truly prosper, they will have to ‘move with the culture’.
This may mean displaying greater transparency and honesty, or having conversations as opposed to one-way advertising, or championing collaboration instead of an us-them mentality. Or, it could be intrinsically about generosity versus greed, or being a bit edgy and daring as opposed to safe and bland. As always, the future is unevenly distributed: one only needs to look at the Googles and the Amazons and the Zappos and the Virgins of this world to get a feel for 'business as unusual'.
So not surprisingly, the trends in this briefing all touch on doing things differently, driven by changing consumer preferences and desires. Time to study and learn from those brands that you think are already mirroring today's more diverse, chaotic, networked society, and then outdo them
Urban culture is the culture. Extreme urbanization, in 2010, 2011, 2012 and far beyond will lead to more sophisticated and demanding consumers around the world.
A defining trend for 2010, 2011, 2012, and so on: urbanization on steroids. We'll let the numbers speak for themselves:
Where will this lead us? We’ve dubbed this extreme push towards urbanization ‘URBANY', representing a global consumer arena inhabited by billions of experienced and newly-minted urbanites. The significance?
A forever-growing number of more sophisticated, more demanding, but also more try-out-prone, super-wired urban consumers are snapping up more ‘daring’ goods, services, experiences, campaigns and conversations.
And thanks to near-total online transparency of the latest and greatest, those consumers opting to remain in rural areas will be tempted to act (and shop) online like urban consumers, too.
This of course creates fertile grounds for B2C brands keen on pushing the innovation envelope in any possible way. As Alex Steffen, editor of WorldChanging stated last year: “I’m certainly not saying that all innovation is urban, or that the suburbs are brain dead or anything. I am saying that compact, wired and wealthy urban communities seem to me to be becoming the epicenters of innovation these days, and that is going to change what innovations emerge.”
Since August 2009, people using five Bank Machine ATMs in East London have been able to opt to have their prompts and options given to them in Cockney rhyming slang. Guerlain launched a series of city-themed perfumes in July 2009, exclusively available at UK department store Harrods for GBP 130. Paris - Moscow is a combination of musk, fruit and wood; Paris - New York mixes vanilla, cinnamon and cedar; and jasmine, violet and green tea combine to create Paris - Tokyo.
3. Real Time Reviews
Whatever it is you're selling or launching in 2010, it will be reviewed 'en masse', live, 24/7.
Basically, in thriving mega-cities, whose economic and cultural power already often surpass that of entire nations, inhabitants’ identities will be closely tied to a city's culture, its brand, its heritage, its 'being'. This means that for big brands, delivering city-specific products, services and communications that truly incorporate a city's character, will be a great, human and fun way to pay respect to urban citizens around the world. So, in 2010 and beyond, you basically can’t go wrong to appeal to urbanites’ pride. Some random examples: The Absolut Cities Series first launched in New Orleans in 2007, when the brand developed a special mango and black pepper blend inspired by the city. Later in 2007, Absolut rolled out the City Series to Los Angeles, and in August 2009, Absolut released the taste of Boston - a black tea and elderflower vodka that has a backdrop reminiscent of Fenway Park's Green Monster.
Closely tied to what constitutes status (which is becoming more fragmented), luxury will be whatever consumers want it to be over the next 12 months.
Live reviews from aboard the maiden flight of BA’s new all-business service between London City and JFK We recently highlighted NOWISM*, and while that mega-trend in its entirety should be on your radar for the next 12 months, let’s dive into one sub-trend that will be truly disruptive: the rise of REAL-TIME REVIEWS.
In short, with even more people sharing, in real time, everything they do**, buy, listen to, watch, attend, wear and so on, and with even more search engines and tracking services making it easy to find and group these ‘live dispatches’ by theme, topic or brand, 2010 will see ready-to-buy consumers tapping into a live stream of (first-hand) experiences from fellow consumers. * Consumers’ ingrained lust for instant gratification is being satisfied by a host of novel, important (offline and online) real-time products, services and experiences. Consumers are also feverishly contributing to the real-time content avalanche that’s building as we speak. ** As more people are reviewing and contributing, the sheer mass of opinions will lead to a real-time stream of information, findable and viewable to all.
In addition, online access and device convergence will allow more on-the-spot reviews.
Twitter is the much-deserved poster child for real-time reviews: it has established itself as the real-time snapshot of what people are thinking/feeling/experiencing and yes, reviewing, around the world.
Next: Just because they can (Twitter's Direct Messages come to mind), consumers who will need more specifics after reading a review, will want to get in direct touch with the reviewer. And because of the self-selecting nature of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, these direct conversations will actually be welcomed by the reviewer, too. By posting reviews for his peers, he or she is almost angling for a follow-up. This will lead to real conversations between like-minded customers and potential buyers, without the brand even being able to monitor what's being said about its products, let alone being able to respond.
So, in 2010, expect numerous services to capitalize on this burgeoning ‘global brain', and its endless real-time reviews and verdicts. Oh, and how to deal with REAL-TIME REVIEWS? Either outperform so reviews will be positive, or adopt a radical 'beta-mindset' (re-read our FOREVERISM briefing for more on this) which means you involve customers in your development processes from day one, eliminating the possibility of out-of-the-blue bad reviews upon launch.
5. Mass Mingling
Online lifestyles are fueling and encouraging 'real world' meet-ups like there's no tomorrow, shattering all cliches and predictions about a desk-bound, virtual, isolated future.
More people than ever will be living large parts of their lives online in 2010. Yet, those same people will also mingle, meet up, and congregate more often with other ‘warm bodies’ in the offline world. In fact, social media and mobile communications are fueling a MASS MINGLING that defies virtually every cliché about diminished human interaction in our ‘online era’.
So, forget (for now) a future in which the majority of consumers lose themselves in virtual worlds. Ironically the same technology that was once seen to be—and condemned for—turning entire generations into homebound gaming zombies and avatars, is now deployed to get people out of their homes. Basically, the more people can get their hands on the right info, at home and on the go; the more they date and network and twitter and socialize online, the more likely they are to eventually meet up with friends and followers in the real world.
Why? Because people actually enjoy interacting with other warm bodies, and will do so forever.
A list of MASS MINGLING facts and drivers: Social media is all about other people to begin with. From a recent Pew report: "When we examine people’s full personal network – their strong ties and weak ties – internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with having a more diverse social network.
Again, this flies against the notion that technology pulls people away from social engagement." The most popular and/or hyped online services, from Foursquare to Google Latitude to Loopt to FireEagle, are currently all about following, finding, tracking, connecting to, and ultimately (spontaneously) meeting up with interesting people (friends and strangers). For some users of these services, 'life-streaming' is now a reality, especially when combined with their blogs, tweets, and Facebook updates pages. Terabytes of online (local) content is about informing and alerting people to make the most of their time with others in the real world. Last but not least: The mobile web has bridged the gap between either being offline in the real world, or being online but in one location (mostly living rooms and offices).
Thanks to a dozen years of predicting an imminent, mass-breakthrough of mobile internet, no one gets really excited about the prospect of no longer being stuck when online.
However, it will dominate 2010, and it will fuel MASS MINGLING like there's no tomorrow, as online will be offline by default, and vice versa. Next for MASS MINGLING will be even more impromptu, temporary meet-ups of strangers, mobs and crowds with similar interests, hobbies, political preferences, causes and grievances. Many of these (temporary) meet-ups will revolve around generating public attention, or getting something done. And here too, Twitter will lead the way (tweetmobs, anyone?).
The opportunity is obvious: Anyone involved with anything that helps people get and stay in touch, that gets people from A-Z, or that accommodates those people before, during or after meeting-up with others, should not only rejoice in MASS MINGLING, but make it even easier for customers to meet up in any possible way, too.
Now, there are thousands of MASS MINGLING examples as it is, so we'll stick with just one fun one that is still in 'concept': UK network Channel 4 announced the ongoing development of a Facebook app for the hit show 'Come Dine With Me'. The app will give fans of the show, in which amateur chefs hold competing dinner parties for one another, the tools to host their own parties with their Facebook friends.
To really reach some meaningful sustainability goals in 2010, corporations and governments will have to forcefully make it 'easy' for consumers to be more green, by restricting the alternatives.
The numerous green opportunities we highlighted in our ECO-BOUNTY briefing are still up for grabs. From ECO-STURDY to ECO-ICONIC to ECO-TRANSIENT. So what else is building in the Green Arena in 2010? How about ECO-EASY:
While the current good intentions of corporations and consumers are helpful, serious eco-results will depend on making products and processes more sustainable without consumers even noticing it, and, if necessary, not leaving much room for consumers and companies to opt for less sustainable alternatives to begin with.
Which will often mean forceful, if not painful, government intervention, or some serious corporate guts, or brilliantly smart design and thinking, if not all of those combined.
Think anything from thoroughly green buildings, to a complete ban on plastic bags and bottles, to super-strict bluefin tuna quota — anything that by default leaves no choice, no room for complacency, and thus makes it 'easy' for consumers (and corporations) to do the right and necessary thing. Examples:
· The small town of Bundanoon in Australia's New South Wales has banned the sale of bottled water for environmental reasons. The community voted to replace branded water bottles with empty bottles labeled "Bundy on tap" that can be filled and refilled with water from taps and fountains on the main street.
· In September 2009, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans to introduce a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in France. Polluters will have to pay EUR 17 per ton of carbon emitted, which includes not only businesses but individual households as well. The tax will cover 70% of the country's carbon emissions and bring in about EUR 4.3 billion of revenue annually.
· The government of Mexico City recently passed a law restricting businesses from giving out plastic bags that are not biodegradable. Mexico City becomes the second large metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the bags. San Francisco enacted an ordinance in March 2007 that gave supermarkets six months and large chain pharmacies about a year to phase out the bags.
7. Tracking and Alerting
Tracking and alerting are the new search, and 2010 will see countless new INFOLUST services that will help consumers expand their web of control.
Consumers weaving their web of instant checking, tracking and alerting
If INFOLUST (consumers lusting after relevant information) is the enduring mega trend, then TRACKING and ALERTING are its du jour sub-trends.
First of all, 'TRACKING & ALERTING is the new searching', as it saves consumers time, makes it impossible to forget or miss out, and thus ultimately gives them yet another level of control. Count on everything being tracked and alerted on (there's more than FedEx packages!): from friends (MASS MINGLING!) to enemies to fuel prices to flights to authors to pizzas to any mentions of oneself.
Oh, and ALERTING, when done well, is of course the ultimate in INFOLUST: relevant information finding consumers, based on (voluntarily revealed) preferences.
The real opportunity in 2010? TRACKING and ALERTING is something that consumers actually need and want, that delights them, that they crave. They are quite literally asking for relevant information, even giving you permission to provide them with more. What’s not to like? Learn from examples below, then start adding to the current information overload in meaningful ways ;-)
And yes, ‘Augmented Reality’ (A field of computer research which deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data, where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time. Source: Wikipedia) adds yet another layer of convenience to existing TRACKING and ALERTING services. It never ends.
8. Embedded Generosity
Next year, generosity as a trend will adapt to the zeitgeist, leading to more pragmatic and collaborative donation services for consumers.
GENERATION G(ENEROSITY). It was big in 2009, and it will be even bigger in 2010. In particular all things EMBEDDED GENEROSITY. It incorporates all giving initiatives that make giving and donating painless, if not automatic (after all, pragmatism is the religion ;-).
On top of that, with collaboration being such an integral part of the zeitgeist, expect lots of innovative corporate giving schemes that involve customers by letting them co-donate and/or co-decide.
So check out these innovative, corporate EMBEDDED GENEROSITY examples that are worth copying or improving on in 2010:
9. Profile Myning
With hundreds of millions of consumers now nurturing some sort of online profile, 2010 will be a good year to introduce some services to help them make the most of it (financially), from intention-based models to digital afterlife services. If you crave more, do check out all other trend firms’ Top Ten lists, which includes a full 2010 Trend Report.
Trendwatching.com is an independent and opinionated trend firm, scanning the globe for the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas. For the latest and greatest, we rely on our network of hundreds of spotters in more than 120 countries worldwide.