Keeping an eye on consumer trends

                 I am a firm believer in horizon scanning…looking ahead at how the world is changing.  Once I know this I can position the Chamber for future opportunities and position the organization to weather challenges.  One of my major sources of information for this exercise is

                 This month I got an email outlining their twelve major consumer trends for 2012.  And, while I don’t know yet how the Chamber will act on this information, I do know this is something that may be useful to all businesses, regardless of your product or service line.  Briefly described here some selected trends:

  • Red carpet  It is all about the Chinese.  Businesses worldwide will go after this huge market.  In just the first six months of 2011Chinese politicians and visitors made 30 million trips worldwide.  It is estimated by 2020 that over 100  million outbound visits will be made from China.
  • DIY Health  As someone who already has the Weight Watchers mobile app and mobile kitchen on her ipad, this is no brainer for me.  Consumers increasingly will turn to technology to help manage their health.  The Apple App store already offers 9,000 health related apps.
  • Dealer-Chic  Hunting for “deals” became an integral part of the shopping experience for most people during the recession, driven by having fewer resources.  In 2012 that behavior has now become a way of life.  The fun is in the “hunt.”  With access to websites that compare products and prices, email alerts consumers are now in much better position to judge if a deal is truly a “deal.”  This trend will spur more loyalty programs and other methods to keep consumers from “jumping ship” to the next big thing.
  • Eco-cycology  It’s gone way beyond recycling paper and plastic.  Many companies in a bid for those concerned with sustainability are now taking back products that have reached the end of their useful life and recycling them.  Example:  Patagonia has taken back 45 tons of clothing and recycled it into 34 tons of new clothes.  Nike has recycled 25 million pairs of shoes and Dell has a partnership with Goodwill stores for returning and refurbishing computers.
  • Cash-less  Okay, predictions about a cashless economy have been popping up for a few years now but with major initiatives from Google and others being rolled out we will get closer to this reality in 2012.  Check out Google wallet that becaome operational in October of 2011 or the Paypal mobile payment app for the Droid.
  • Bottom of the Urban Pyramid  An untapped market for many is those who live in cities worldwide who are not upwardly mobile or living off their Wall Street bonuses.  In fact hundreds of millions are not even considered middle class but they still want innovations driven by their unique circumstances from ATM for those who cannot read to a computer tablet built on the android technology that will sell for around $60 in the United States.
  • Idle Sourcing  Imagine being able to mobilize hundreds of ordinary citizens to monitor and transmit real time data from various locations in a city.  Speed Bump App has been tested in Boston to provide current information on street conditions for example.
  • Flawsome  It is good to admit when you make mistake to admit that you were wrong.  Consumers fed up with what they believe to be evil corporate greed will and do welcome brands that show humility and humanity.  Think Dominos who in 2011 took out a huge billboard in New York City and encouraged customers to give them honest feedback that was then broadcast to anyone and everyone.
  • Screen Culture  It’s the Iphone 5 and Ipad 3.  We are all spending more and more time in front of interactive screens be they our phones, our computers, our tablets or…coming soon the technology to change any surface into a touch screen.
  • Recommerce  Who hasn’t traded in a car or a house?  But in 2012 we will be trading just about anything that anybody will accept.  Trading in and trading up will grow as pent up demand by the recession has kept consumers from simply disposing of the old and buying new.










             So, as I review the list and consider how these consumer trends may influence the Chamber, I begin to think about a mobile Chamber app (probably past due for that one), ways to market Chamber events in real time on screens (something we tried with challenging members to twitter from the Business Showcase last year and showing the feed live on screens)…and other changes needed to keep with my consumers, the business community demands.

            What might you do differently based on these and other trends?  The website has several more trends and past newsletter issues that might help you do a little horizon scanning on your own!