The behavior of consumers is constantly evolving in response to new technologies, changing economic conditions, long-term social transformation processes, or other factors. Monitoring consumer trends and analyzing their impact on the organization's strategy is one of the most important jobs of strategists. That’s why we would like to take a look at some key consumer trends that will demand our attention in 2014 and beyond. Trendwatching.com, one of the world's leading trend firms, has identified six such trends that strategists from all industries and regions around the world should watch out for.
- Guilt-free Status
Many consumers are faced with the moral dilemma that they are well aware of the negative impact of their consumption on the environment, society, and themselves, but find themselves unable to break with their old consumption habits. The endless pursuit of status is still the main driving force behind all consumer behavior. The result: a "never-ending guilt spiral."
According to Trendwatching.com, this offers great opportunities for companies to develop new products and services that combine luxury with sustainability. However, to succeed in this, the sustainability aspect needs to be noticeable to others. Companies can achieve that by creating products that are either well-known for their great sustainability (e.g., the electric sports car Tesla S) or which are visibly sustainable, ethical, or healthy (e.g., "upcycling" products which are made from waste materials). If neither is the case, the product needs a "guilt-free story" which the owner can tell his friends, relatives, and colleagues.
Crowdshaping is the next step in social media. As the Web 2.0 generation is coming of age, users are now starting to demand a return for their willingness to excessively share personal information in the form of products and services that are better tailored to customer preferences. A nice example is the Jukebox CheckinDJ that automatically changes the music offer when a user enters a restaurant or a bar and logs in with the company’s app.
- China as "Green Innovator"
China is well on its way to become the world leader in the design, production, and rollout of green technology. This trend is driven by the large-scale efforts of the Chinese government to solve the massive environmental and structural problems the country is facing. In 2014, Western consumers will finally come to realize China’s new role as "green innovator." In consequence, Western brands will lose one of their last great competitive advantages over Chinese products. As an example, Trendwatching.com mentions the Beijing Subway which introduced "reverse vending machines" in May 2013 which enable passengers to offset their travel costs by recycling plastic bottles.
In the sport and health sectors, the trend of "quantified self" products and services will continue. However, the focus will shift: consumers will look for ways to track and improve not only their physical health, but their mental well-being as well. MYCHIARTY innovations offer consumers new ways to deal with stress, lack of time, and other pressures of modern life. An example is the wireless biosensor PIP used for video games. The device measures the stress level of the players in real time. In a racing game, for example, the player who is the most relaxed wins.
Trendwatching.com points out that "no matter which industry you’re in, the MYCHIATRY trend should spur plenty of discussions around where the mega-trend of tech-driven consumer empowerment and self-service will head next."
- No Data
Not least due to the ongoing NSA scandal, the awareness of privacy and data protection issues among consumers has increased significantly. In the future, more and more consumers will want to escape the obsessive collection of data by service providers and look for new brands "that simply offer brilliant service, while also loudly and proudly eschewing the collection of personal data." According to Trendwatching.com, "the challenge for businesses will be finding a balance between the very real benefits of data collection and utilization (recommendations, cross-selling, personalization, enhanced ad revenue and more), and earning the trust of increasingly HACKED OFF consumers."
- Internet of Caring Things
In 2014, consumers will begin to embrace everyday connected devices. However, Trendwatching.com predicts that demand will be primarily on products that simplify a complex operation. "Anything exceptional that ‘connected objects’ can do for consumers, whether that’s monitoring or improving health, helping them save money, getting chores done, will be warmly welcomed next year and beyond," the report concludes.
The full Trend Briefing can be found on the website of Trendwatching.com.