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2013 at a glance

December 9, 2012

10 crucial consumer trends that every business leader should know for the New Year

Look to 2013, and you'll see a perfect storm of necessity and opportunity. A remapped global economy, new consumer mindsets when it comes to brand behavior and relationships, new technologies, and old technologies applied in new ways. What's not to like?

So here's an overview of 10 crucial consumer trends (in no particular order) that should be on your radar across the coming year.

1. PRESUMERS

The year will see many consumers embrace an exciting new way of getting what they want, and being the first to have it. "Presumers" are consumers who love to engage with, push and fund products and services before they are launched, and in 2013 countless new crowdfunding platforms ― and the new accessibility of manufacturing technologies finally tipping into the mainstream ― will allow them more ways than ever to do it.

In 2012, kickstarter funding exploded ― 16 projects passed the $1 million funding mark this year ― but in 2013 "presuming" will go far beyond that.

Take Hong Kong based fashion platform ZAOZAO, which bills itself "Your social pretailer." The site allows fashion designers to post pre-launch designs, and get funds for production from the site's community of fashion-loving crowdfunders. A textbook case of presumers in action.

2. EMERGING2

Brazilian frozen yoghurt brand Yogoberry in Iran
Now, get ready for an explosion in products and services from emerging markets for emerging markets. Think Chinese and Brazilian brands selling to the middle classes in Turkey, India or South Africa, and vice versa.

We've all watched developed market brands push into emerging markets across the last few decades; and, more recently, we've seen emerging market brands push into developed markets.

The motivation isn't hard to discern: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says 2013 is a tipping point year for the global economy, in which for the first time the combined gross domestic products (GDPs) of the emerging markets at $44.1 trillion will exceed that of developed markets at $42.7 trillion. So get ready for truly multi-directional consumerism, with all the opportunities that go with that. Brazilian frozen yoghurt brand Yogoberry is already applying this trend ― it opened its second store in Tehran in May 2012, as the first step in a franchise partnership that will see the brand expand across the Middle East.

3. MOBILE MOMENTS

Wondering where mobile will head next? In 2013, consumers will look to their mobile devices to help them maximize every moment ― this trend is all about the way mobile can lend consumers lifestyle superpowers.

Consumers are already pushing mobile obsession to near-insane degrees. A survey of U.S. adult smartphone owners found that 63 percent of women and 73 percent of men can't go an hour without checking their phone, according to Harris Interactive's June report. Now, hectic, urban lifestyles mean that no amount of time will be too fleeting to cram in more content, connection, consumption or simply more fun.

The examples here are endless, but just take Pogoseat, a free smartphone app that enables consumers at live sports events to identify, purchase and move to better seats. Or Snapchat, an app that enables users to share photos only available for a few seconds before they "self destruct." In October, the service was processing 20 million images a day.

4. NEW LIFE INSIDE

Want a sign-of-the-times eco-mini-trend for 2013? Take a look at the phenomenon of products that literally contain new life inside. Rather than being discarded or even recycled (by someone else), these products can be planted and grown, creating a symbolic, and very shareable, eco-story for the consumer.

Check out Korean designer Koo Gyeong-wan's "To Be Nature Chopstick." One of each pair of the sticks has a transparent starch cap at the end containing a seed. Once users are finished with the chopsticks the stick with the seed cap can be placed tip-first into soil, where the seed will germinate and grow into a plant. Meanwhile, the second stick can be slotted into the top of the first, providing a support for the seedling to grow alongside.

Or think about how you could recreate beer brand Molson Canadian's Red Leaf Project, which saw the brand release coasters made of seed paper that grow into a tree when planted: since June 2012, 1 million coasters have been distributed.

5. APPSCRIPTIONS

Antibiotics Reminder app by Australia's National Prescribing Service
Digital technologies are fast becoming a new medicine, and in 2013, they'll become part of an increasing number of doctor and patient interactions.

Consumers have been using digital technology to track and manage health and wellbeing for some time. But with 13,000 health and wellbeing apps in the Apple app store, it's no longer a case of finding an app, but finding one that is safe and effective. So in 2013, expect consumers to turn to the medical profession to certify these products; and expect more doctors to start "prescribing" apps and other digital tech as part of formal courses of treatment.

One example: in June 2012 the Australian government funded 'National Prescribing Service' launched Antibiotics Reminder. The free smartphone app lets patients set medicine reminders, track when they have taken their pills, and keep a recovery diary.

And remember: "Appscriptions" is just one manifestation of a broader trend towards mobile driven service delivery.

6. CELEBRATION NATION

In 2013, global cultural capital will continue to be reshaped just as dynamically as its financial equivalent. One result? Across the next 12 months, emerging markets will proudly export and flaunt their national and cultural heritage. Symbols, lifestyles and traditions that were previously downplayed, if not denied, are being reinvented to become a source of pride for domestic consumers, and of interest to global consumers.

We all witnessed K-Pop become a truly global phenomenon in 2012 via PSY's Gangnam Style ― even if that song did pokes fun at many K-Pop staples. Another example of Korean celebration? Beauty insiders have long celebrated Korean beauty products, but see in particular the success of beauty brand Sulwhasoo, available in Neiman Marcus stores in San Francisco in October 2012. Noted for its distinctive package design reminiscent of classic Korean pottery, its products feature native Korean botanicals, including ginseng and white peony root.

7. DATA MYNING

If data is a new resource, in 2013 expect consumers to start demanding their share of its value.

So far, the "big data" discussion has centered on the value of data to businesses. But now increasingly savvy consumers will start to reverse the flow: seeking to profit from their lifestyle data, and turning to brands that use this data to proactively offer advice on how to save money and/or optimize behavior.

Movenbank is one start-up leading the way. The online bank launched in October 2012, and shapes the service it offers customers around a CRED score calculated via day-to-day transactions and online social influence, among other factors.

8. AGAIN MADE HERE

Multifaceted consumer desire meets key technological advances to drive a resurgence in domestic manufacturing in 2013 ― domestic, that is, if you're in the U.S. or Europe.

On the consumer side, ever-greater lust for the new and niche, for constant new product iterations, for environmental sustainability and closer connections with manufacturers are forming a perfect "again made here" storm. Meanwhile, the spread of manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing are enabling U.S. and European brands to fulfil those desires.

One innovative product that made waves in 2012 is a case in point: the Tesla Model S electric car is being manufactured in California. Meanwhile, leading 3D printing platform Shapeways opened its Factory of the Future in Long Island City, N.Y. The factory will have capacity to print between 3 and 5 million objects annually.

9. FULL FRONTAL

What's next for the mega-trend of brand and business transparency? Brands must move from "having nothing to hide," to pro-actively showing and proving they have nothing to hide.

According to one telling statistic from Cone Communications, 69 percent of U.S. consumers said they are more likely to buy from a brand that talks publicly about its corporate social responsibility (CSR) results, versus the 31 percent who would purchase from a brand that talks about its CSR mission and purpose. The message is that consumers want meaningful information on the reality of your ethics, sustainability and process: not just pleasant-sounding phrases on your intentions.

Learn from eco-friendly Brazilian cosmetics brand Natura. In its 2011 annual report, the brand provided a comprehensive list of its socio-environmental targets and stated whether the target had been achieved or not, before setting adjusted targets for 2012.

10. DEMANDING BRANDS

In 2013, brands embarking on the much-needed journey towards a more sustainable and socially responsible future can demand that consumers roll their sleeves up and contribute.

This could be with temporary initiatives, such as the Orange RockCorps gig program, which gives exclusive concert tickets to young people once they have performed community service. But if you want to take "demanding brands" further in 2013, make meaningful demands on an ongoing basis: that's what India's Tata Docomo are doing with their global blood donor social network The Bloodline Club. Upon registering users give their blood type; if a member has an urgent need for blood they contact Tata Docomo on Facebook, and the brand will call directly on other members to give blood.

Every December, trendwatching.com publishes a trend briefing that looks to the year ahead. Here's a summary of their list of 10 trends for 2013, now available in both English and Korean on trendwatching.com.


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