First of all: It’s going to be another interesting year. Has the global recession really, officially ended? And if so, will the aftermath cause pains for years to come? Whatever the outcome, we find ourselves spotting more recession-proof opportunities than ever before.
1. Business As Unusual
Ruthless capitalism went out of fashion way before the crisis hit. This year, 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.
A defining trend for 2010, 2011, 2012, and so on: urbanization on steroids. We'll let the numbers speak for themselves:
* Less than 5 per cent of the world’s population lived in cities a century ago. In 2008, for the first time in humanity, that figure exceeded 50 per cent. In the last two decades alone, the urban population of the developing world has grown by an average of 3 million people per week.”
* By 2050, it will have reached 70 per cent, representing 6.4 billion people. Most of this growth will be taking place in developing regions; Asia will host 63 percent of the global urban population, or 3.3 billion people in 2050. (Source: The Global Report on Human Settlements 2009, October 2009.)
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.
3. 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, this year will see ready-to-buy consumers tapping into a live stream of (first-hand) experiences from fellow consumers.
Luxury. Is it a family of six? Owning a SUB instead of a SUV? Needing nothing at all? You decide. This year, luxury, and what it means to a bewildering number of ‘consumer segments’, will remain in flux.
So how will luxury brands fare over the next 12 months? What will define luxury over the next few years? The answer is 'luxury will be whatever you want it to be'. After all, what constitutes luxury is closely related to what constitutes scarcity. And, beyond the basic needs, scarcity is in the eye of the beholder, especially those beholders who are desperately trying to be unique.
5. Mass Mingling
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.
6. 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.
7. Tracking and Alerting
If Infolust (consumer lusting after relevant information) is the enduring mega trend, then Tracking and Alerting are its du jour sub-trends.
First of all, Tracking and 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 this year? 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?
8. Embedded Generosity
It was big in 2009, and it will be even bigger this year. 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 new 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:
* Australian Baby Teresa manufactures and sells a variety of 100% cotton onesies for babies, and, for each one purchased, donates another to a baby in need somewhere in the world.
* IKEA’s Sunnan LED desk lamp is powered by solar cells. The product retails for $US19.99, and for every unit sold in IKEA stores worldwide, another one will be donated to UNICEF to give to children without electricity in refugee camps and villages in remote areas.
9. Profile Myning
What insights can we possibly add to the avalanche of intelligence available on where social media is going? Here’s one modest attempt: the importance of owning and making the most (financially) of personal profiles.
And no, we’re not referring to companies / advertisers making money from personal profiles (jeez....), even though they’re dying to 'mine' personal data to serve up 'relevant' ads; we're putting our money on data and profile mining by its rightful owners, i.e. consumers. Hence the Myning, not Mining.
Let’s face it: this year will be rawer, more opinionated, more risqué, more in your face than ever before. Your audiences (who are by now thoroughly exposed to, well, anything, for which you can thank first and foremost the anything-goes online universe) can handle much more quirkiness, more daring innovations, more risqué communications and conversations, more exotic flavors and so on than traditional marketers could have ever dreamed of. In short; audiences in mature consumer societies no longer tolerate being treated like yesteryear’s uninformed, easily shocked, inexperienced, middle-of-the-road consumer.
We've dubbed this Maturalism (mature materialism), and, to go full circle, it is closely linked to Business as Usual, to Urbany, to Profile Myning, if not all trends in this Trend Briefing.
So, this year, the question is how far you can/should go as a brand, when mirroring societal beliefs that are about anything but being meek. And no, we’re not saying you have to be rude or nasty or inconsiderate; this is about being a tad more daring and diverse if you want to move with the culture.
Rapper Voodoo Browne releases "Low Budget Raver" from his debut album "Browne Saucery"Ipswich- based rapper Voodoo Browne has released an experimental rap / rave track entitled "Low Budget Raver" or "LBR".
This tune is a tour de force lyrically with catchy and infectious lines ("I'm a low budget raver, I'm out on a fiver!") over some awe inspiring production by Voodoo's partner in crime Nat Clarxon.
LBR showcases Voodoo Browne's ability to string the listener along with funny narrative hooks and quirky imagery. The style, flow and intonation of the raps also indicates Voodoo's hip hop pedigree as a long serving undergound MC.
The single comes from his debut album Browne Saucery, check out the video for the track here: http://bit.ly/fApf9G