Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kinder more generous world and businesses forecast for 2011

Being nice tops list of crucial consumer trends

Big, monolithic, faceless and selfish companies are going to grow big hearts and show kindness to consumers in unexpected and random ways, according to the 2011 list of crucial consumer trends compiled by trendwatching.com.

They include:

1. Random acts of kindness. Tops the list of consumer trends for the coming year. According to the trendwatching group, consumers' cravings for realness and the human touch will drive companies to do nice things on an individual level.

Random acts of kindness, such as giving flowers to someone on a bad day, top the list of crucial consumer trends for 2011, according to trendwatching.com. (iStock)Fuelling the trend is that companies now have the ability to know specifically how each of their customers feel, by monitoring social networks and Twitter.

One U.K. flower business sends a free bouquet to people who appear to be having a bad day. Dutch airline KLM looks into the backgrounds of some of its passengers, and surprises them with well thought out gifts when they arrive at the gate.

2. Urbanomics. The website notes that three billion people now live in cities, and the urban population grows by 180,000 people each day.

"Urban consumers tend to be more daring, more liberal, more tolerant, more experienced, more prone to trying out new products and services," the website notes.

As a result, it says, products, services, experiences and campaigns will be tailored more to the needs of people living in cities.

3. Pricing pandemonium. Consumers are changing how they buy, and companies like Groupon are helping them. Among the large buying trends for 2011 and beyond, trendwatching lists group discount purchasing as offered by Groupon and other sites, as well as members' clubs such as Costco gaining strength.

Other buying trends include more so-called flash sales, which are limited time offers that allow companies to unload a lot of stock quickly and for consumers to pick up great deals.

4. Made for China. Big economies like China, India and Brazil are scooping up consumer products at an unprecedented rate. China's retail sales for 2010 rose 18.7 per cent to $18.3 billion US. By 2016, the website suggests China's retail sales could top $5 trillion, outstripping the United States.

Big companies such as Levis, BMW and Apple are producing products specifically designed for the Chinese market. Trendwatching notes affluent consumers in China prefer to purchase foreign bands.

5. Online status symbols. Until now, nothing has said status online like a high rate of visits to a Flickr page or the number of Facebook friends. The new element for 2011 is status symbols that straddle the real and the online world.

One of the examples listed by the website is nerd merit badges — which can represent a user's online achievements with both an online representation, and a fully embroidered Velcro backed patch.

If that's a little much, there is also an app that allows users to generate coffee cups with the mugs of their Facebook friends or Twitter followers on it.

6. Wellthy. The website estimates 500 million people will be using mobile health-care devices by 2015. Over the next year, technologies to help monitor important life elements such as sleep, exercise and nutrition will become more portable, and more prominent.

7. Social-lites and twinsumers. Consumer networks are becoming stronger and more important to marketers. Twinsumers are consumers with similar consumer patterns, likes and dislikes who become valuable sources for recommendations on what to buy and experience.

Social-lites are people who go out and discover things in the world and then share the experience with their networks.

8. Emerging generosity. According to trendwatching.com, this trend is about "brands and wealthy individuals from emerging markets who will increasingly be expected to give, donate, care and sympathize versus just sell and take."

9. Planned spontaneity. With the rise of geo-location as a key feature of social networks and web apps, consumers will be able to sign up for services that allow for a wide range of events which can crop up spontaneously.

10. Eco-superior. Trendwatching predicts a rise in not only eco-friendly, but also eco-superior products. It refers to green products that have superior functionality, design and savings. The site notes mainstream consumers are beginning to question the value and efficiency of going green and are looking for products that go well beyond the promise of environmentally healthy.

11. Ownerless. Consumers are becoming more comfortable with schemes that allow them to share, rent or borrow products. The arrangements free consumers of the cost and responsibility of ownership, and allow them to access otherwise out of reach luxuries.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/12/06/con-consumer-trends.html#ixzz17MnY0XlA

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