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The consumer trendscape 2010

21st Dec 2009
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Cheryl Swanson outlines the consumer trends that will characterise the coming 12 months.

Finally, the year we'd love to forget - but can't - is over and new influences are coming into focus which promise to make marketers' lives even more challenging. From skin care advances to Kaboomers' growing market clout; the Trendscape continues to morph at an accelerating pace.

Here's a flashforward on what's instore.
Boomers have always had a major impact on marketing and they are about to have another huge impact on the marketplace. Why? Marketers are starting to realise the benefit of targeting products to the 50+ demographic. And why not, they've been marketed to their entire lives. They like to shop and spend, have the money and are open to all product/service categories that will help them 'Live Younger Longer'. Many 60 year-olds are healthier then 35 year-olds so watch this market boom over the next 10 years.
Ka-Boomer wants extend well beyond medicinal and financial services offerings to: energy, indulgence, Better For You (BFY), fashion and fun categories that leverage their inherent optimism. This trend could challenge AARP to reinvent itself and marketing as it is currently practiced. It doesn't make sense to stop marketing to people at 40 or 45 when they will likely live well into their 70s and beyond.
Fun-Frugality 2010 and a yearning
The 'Frugalista' movement will continue through 2010 but watch for a growing backlash as our yearning for luxury, indulgence, and designer logos slowly reasserts itself. Brand diehards will end their deprivations and re-emerge to indulge their special interests while cutting back in less significant categories. We won't see a return to luxury as we ve known it but will see smaller, regular indulgences in both mass and premium channels. Watch for marketers to appease our needs with little indulgences like logo-covered t-shirts or super premium hot chocolate, as long as its fun, proving that it doesn t have to cost a lot to mean a lot.
Personal care marketers beware
Personal care marketers like P&G, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive need to be prepared for the oncoming consumer rejection of parabens, petroleum, ammonium sulfates and other chemical 'baddies' as they did with trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup and MSG in packaged and fast foods. Once the social networks are mobilised against these ingredients, companies need to be ready with natural and efficacious alternatives. As fast fooders from McD's to Taco Bell have been compelled to post ingredients and caloric totals while developing more balanced menus, so too will personal care brands be forced to heed the growing consumer demand for transparency, accurate labeling, resourcing data, efficacy claims, etc., while true organics will continue to gain market share.
The Great Recession has brought about a redefinition of luxury, especially in the currently moribund aspirational segment. While some lux brands have responded to 'luxury shame' with more a discreet display of their logos, a key shift will be toward the creation of limited edition affordable designer 'artifacts' (Lux-iFacts), especially collectible jewellery, fragrance, accessories, and home objects that represent the designers' level of quality and prestige at friendlier price points. Consumers are tiring of being 'frugalistas', shopping only at big box stores or buying on sale. Lux-iFacts allow consumers to indulge their need for quality, design and prestige with small, yet beautiful pieces.
Marketers will seek to energise their lines with special collections in curated retail /gallery experiences, pop-up showcases and innovative interactive applications for mobile 24/7 shoppers. Designer basics will become situationally available in branded vending machines (private clubs, airports, restaurants) - what we call Lux-O- Vending - offering a spectrum of goods from miniature artwork, comfort shoes, accessories, make-up, or in-flight survival kits complete with cashmere travel wrap/blanket, socks/slippers, fragrance, make-up, even technology.
Discovery - AstroH2O
Spatially, and perhaps temporally far-off, the lure of off-planet water sources is growing; witness the recent moon bombing and Martian search for water. As world leaders increasingly recognize the impending depletion of this most vital of resources, expect far-sighted corporations to step up to support the search and mobilize brand advocates. Watch for a leading brand to align itself with NASA in the quest over the next two to five years. Outer space will be in again soon, out of necessity.
Life on-demand & a visual language imperative
The demand for everything all the time, everywhere is fast becoming a cultural imperative focused on mobile handsets that present brand marketers the greatest challenge ever. As everything goes mobile - entertainment, education (edutainment), shopping, information, socializing, the impact on brands is monumental as they attempt to transition from the old brand value/equity proposition (large/larger screens) to the new rich media environment (small/tiny screens).
What happens to the visual brand proposition as the blurring of the online and offline media spaces accelerates? Brands are increasingly challenged to find new means of managing their presence in 2D virtual catalog/storefront web pages to 3D worlds, on-shelf display and pop-up environments. Traditional package design cannot successfully play across cell phone micro screen to giant Times Square video network. Expect a major wave of brand simplification and redesigns in the coming years to cope with the screen revolution.
Newbie DIYers
From the affluent to the mainstream, people are doing more for themselves and they need help. Newbies are learning how to paint a wall, to decorate, even household cleaning. The media is helping and brands have the opportunity to play a key role in this conversation. One great example, premium Tide, which didn't replace other laundry detergents so much as it substituted for dry-cleaning.
Tweet-talk & language evolving
Twitter is about to have a tsunami-like force on the English language as its 140-character limit seeps into our consciousness, thought process, writing and speaking patterns. Tweet-talk is on the rise as its' info-bit status updates and creative abbreviations permeates the collective conversation.

Cheryl Swanson is the founder of Toniq.


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