Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Trend Watching 101, a consumer trends firm with a network of 8,000 trend spotters around the global, just released a summary of its top 5 consumer trends for 2007. It’s such a great list because it predicts trends that will affect not only how people shop, but how they live in general. I’ve provided a brief summary of each but you can go to the actual article here. Of course, you can also buy the comprehensive 2007 Trend Report- it will set you back $500.

(1) Status Lifestyles- “Old, mass-era status” [i.e., Gucci, Rolex] and other traditional luxury items may not necessarily be the keystone of every consumer’s pocketbook. Instead, as consumers become more transcient and saturated with stimuli, they increasingly rely on experiences for entertainment. The new status lifestyles are just that-the need for consumers to experience, to participate, and to connect, illustrated by the past and continuing popularity of sites such as meetup, myspace, or flickr.

“Eco-lifestyles” are also on the rise. The internet revolution has created a smaller, close-knit world and has weaved people into a global community, making consumers more aware of domestic and international ecological issues. As a result, consumers are actively trying to “greenify” their lives and place premium value on chic, well-designed, eco-friendly products.

Advice for the indie entrepreneur? Knowledge of these new status lifestyles allows you to develop strategies such as focusing your product line or using materials with an eco-friendly twist or developing marketing strategies that fulfill a customer’s needs to participate and network.

(2) Transparency Trend: The easy accessibility of the internet and the need for humans to communicate is a powerful combination. The result? An onslaught of websites compiling and tracking advice, opinions, and advice of regular consumers (like you and me) for a multitude of products and services. While the effect of this trend depends on the positivity of the customer’s review or opinion, it is uncontestable that this trend has created an unprecendented transparency in many products and services.

For indie entrepreneurs with typically limited resources, this trend can make or break your business. A favorable product mention on youtube or tripadvisor may propel your business to a new level, but one ill-written review can cause bad publicity or lost sales.

Therefore, knowledge is power. Investigate and be fully informed of where and how your product/service is mentioned. Google yourself-you never know where you’ll come up! This allows you to do damage control early on in the game. In addition, a customer review, whether positive or negative, is feedback which may help you in developing strategies and getting a different perspective of your products/services.

(3) Web N+1: The online revolution is showing no signs of cooling down. In addition, technology will only continue to evolve faster than ever. Stay on your toes.

(4) Trysumers: In conjunction, or perhaps as a reflection of the trend towards participation and connection, consumers are becoming more daring in what they consume and experience-new foods, new flavors, new services.

This is great news for indie entrepreneurs, who traditionally service as forerunners and innovators of creative products and services way before larger stores and mainstream designers. Give consumers the chance to experience and sample your products. This is a crucial strategy, especially for many indie entrepreneurs who sell their products online, as it is difficult for consumers to get a tactile experience of a product’s qualities. For instance, for companies offering bath and body products, entrepreneurs can invest in small vials and send samples of their products with customer’s orders, or if financially possible, allow potential customers to request product samples. In addition, participating in events such as homeofthesampler allows you to reach a different or larger audience for a small monetary investment.

(5) Global Brain: The global brain is about tapping into your customers’ creativity and making them feel a connection with your product. This strategy has been used by a variety of companies, such as Mastercard (which allowed consumers create their own "priceless ads") and McDonalds (which casted ordinary people to appear in its bags and cups). Involving your customers in an activity that connects them to your business enables them to establish a stake in your products or services.


faythe said...

hi. i'm curious why you decided to post links to mastercard and mcdonalds? this is an interesting blog, found you via your post with the craft congress. said...

Mastercard and McDonalds had promotions which involved their customers in the marketing process, such as Mastercard's allowing customeres to write their own priceless ad or McDonald's casting ordinary people and their stories in its cups and bags. Thanks for asking. I clarified it in the post.