The consumer experience continues to change rapidly. It's getting more digital, more mobile, and many more companies from around the world are competing for shorter attention spans.
In a series of reports, trendwatching.com has been tracking what consumers are demanding, and how brands are giving it to them.
Here's what they think the 10 hottest consumer trends will be in 2013, and the businesses that are getting ahead of the curve.
Crowdfunding will become active, consumers will start to change and invest in new startups and products
Crowdfunding is moving from an activity where people put a few dollars forward to a more active phase, where consumers actually work with brands on the creation of products and invest in the companies that make them, all through digital platforms.
Soon, average U.S. consumers will be able to own a piece of the startups they buy from
With the passage of the JOBS act earlier this year, people in the United States will soon be able to invest in startups and brands through equity crowdfunding startups like Fundable.
There's going to be an explosion of products and services from emerging markets for emerging markets
The big trends over the last two decades were developing markets selling to emerging ones, and emerging markets catering to the developed world. Now we're going to see developing markets selling to each other and their growing middle classes, at far greater rates. Having grown up in these rapidly growing markets, they'll often have an advantage over Western powerhouses.
Lenovo is offering smartphones outside of China for the first time
Lenovo, already the second largest smartphone maker in China, is starting to expand throughout Asia. It launched in Indonesia in October, and plans to roll out a smartphone specifically for the Indian market early next year.
Brands are going to look to engage constantly on mobile devices
Well over half of American smartphone owners don't go an hour without checking their device. However, most app sessions last only a minute. Businesses are going to compete harder than ever to get a slice of that engagement, and make it as valuable as possible.
Jana users can get free airtime by participating in surveys
Jana lets cell phone users in the developing world earn free airtime by participating in market research surveys via text message. They've partnered with mobile operators to reach almost 3.5 billion people in more than 100 countries.
Products are out that literally grow when you plant them
Environmental efforts by companies, no matter how well meaning or extensive, can often seem distant to customers. Now, brands and designers are starting to make the experience more visceral, by creating products that literally have life inside of them.
This new chopstick grows into a plant
As an environmental alternative to disposable chopsticks, a Korean designer created the 'To Be Nature Chopstick.' One of the sticks has a starch cap containing a seed, and the other can be put into soil next to it, providing a support for the plant to grow on.
Healthcare apps are exploding, so actual healthcare professionals will get involved
There are 13,000 healthcare apps available in the App store. Consumers, worried about safety, will turn to the medical profession for advice. The medical profession can use this is as an opportunity to reduce costs, improve compliance, and monitor patients.
Doctors are starting to 'prescribe' healthcare apps
One example is Happtique, a healthcare app store by and for healthcare professionals. They recently launched a pilot program for "an electronic prescription app," mRx which lets practitioners prescribe certified apps, and track which patients have downloaded them.
Emerging markets will embrace their culture in consumer products sold worldwide
Rather than becoming homogeneous, emerging brands will increasingly celebrate the symbols, lifestyles, and traditions of their own country, using it as a selling point for domestic consumers and to pique the interest of global consumers.
China's NE-Tiger is starting to export luxury fashion
China now has its first luxury fashion brand, NE-TIGER. One of its founding principals is go "From China, to the World" according to founder Zhang Zhifeng. It presented its latest line in Milan in September.
Consumers will start demanding a share of the value of their data
The discussion of "big data" has focused on how customer data helps businesses. Consumers are increasingly aware of this, and will expect to turn this around, and benefit from the value of their lifestyle data. They'll start to look for brands that use it proactively (but not intrusively) to improve their behavior and help them save money.
Opower lets users see how much energy they're using and compete to save money
Opower is an app that allows users to connect their energy account and see a visual representation of energy use over a month. They can see particularly wasteful activities, and compare usage to friends and other households. They can also participate in competitions to reduce energy waste.
Local manufacturing is coming back to mature markets
Due to increasing costs abroad and new technologies like 3D printing, manufacturing is coming back to mature markets. Consumers like to buy things made in their own countries, and that's going to be a large part of the appeal of brands that make this choice.
The Tesla Model S is made in California
This incredibly advanced electric car from Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, which saw its first deliveries in June, is manufactured in Fremont, California.
Brands will have to start proving that they're transparent and socially responsible
Just making statements and running advertisements on transparency and social responsibility isn't good enough. Trust in brands to tell the truth or do the right thing has declined significantly over the past few years. Increasingly, consumers want to see evidence and actual results.
This Chinese organic farm lets customers track their food the whole way
Chinese (and foreign) consumers are increasingly concerned about food safety. Chinese organic farm Yi Mu Tian lets customers track any food item to the farm where it was grown, and actually watch the growth of vegetables on camera.
Brands will start to make demands of their customers
Social responsibility and sustainability efforts from companies are great, but they're much more effective when consumers buy into them and join in. Not only does it build a brand's reputation, it actually accomplishes something good.
Vitoria is changing its uniform as its fans donate blood
Brazilian soccer club Vitoria released a uniform with white and black stripes. Fans all over Brazil have been encouraged to donate blood, and as blood banks hit their targets, the stripes will return to their traditional red, one at a time.