January 2014 Trend Briefing:
Remember, the lazy will NOT inherit the earth in 2014!


No matter what market or industry you're in, if you’re obsessed with catering to evolving consumer needs, desires and expectations, you will prosper through even the most insane global upheavals, whatever their flavor. In 2014, 2015, 2016 and beyond.

However, as the start of a new year is the time when many of you are doing some extra imagining and planning and creating, we thought we’d do our bit and throw in a handful of consumer trends that are begging to be applied in the next 12 months. By you.


Why in 2014, guilt-free is the new status symbol.

Growing numbers of consumers can no longer escape an awareness of the damage done by their consumption: to the planet, society, or themselves. But a mixture of indulgence, addiction and conditioning mean that most can’t substantially change their consumption habits. The result? A never-ending guilt spiral.

Which creates exciting opportunities for brands that combine tackling this guilt spiral with consumers’ endless status seeking (still the driving force behind all consumer behavior). 

Indeed, GUILT-FREE STATUS will be the ultimate indulgence in 2014. Time to create products and services that deliver a guilt-free status fix by being one of these:

  • Known by all. Iconic, well known GUILT-FREE products such as the Tesla Model S will act as instantly recognizable signals of great sustainability.
  • Visibly guilt-free. High status, chic or fashionable products that are visibly sustainable, ethical or healthy will deliver a GUILT-FREE STATUS hit. Get inspired by Nudie’s rugs made from recycled jeans.
  • Storied. If a product or service isn’t known or visible, it will need a GUILT-FREE story that the owner can tell others (and impress them with).

Warning: this trend is NOT about GUILTWASHING. Benefits for people and planet are at the core of GUILT-FREE STATUS SYMBOLS, not marketing speak and one-dimensional plays on people’s anxieties.

Guilt-free status symbol goes global


The Tesla Model S sedan luxury electric vehicle began shipping to Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands in August 2013, with right hand drive models scheduled for March 2014. In September 2013 the Model S was the best-selling car in Norway, where electric car drivers can use bus lanes to skip past traffic jams. Prices for the Model S range start at USD 62,400.

Old jeans become limited edition rugs


Nudie launched a range of limited edition rugs created from woven strips of second-hand or donated denim from the Swedish denim brand’s own jeans. Hand-woven using a manual shuttle loom, the rugs were available at Nudie Jeans concept stores across the world, priced at USD 599.

Liberty United
Firearm jewelry fights gun violence


US based Liberty United is a jewelry line created from decommissioned guns and bullets. The brand aims to help take firearms off the streets, working with local governments to source guns no longer needed for evidence or collected in buyback programs. These are then recycled into jewelry by established designers, with each piece including the serial number of the gun used to make it. Prices range from USD 85 to 695 and a portion of the proceeds goes to nonprofits working to reduce gun crime.

A recent global study identified 2.5 billion 'aspirational consumers' (representing one third of the global consumer class). These consumers are defined by their love of shopping (78%), desire for responsible consumption (92%) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (58%).
(BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, October 2013)


The connected crowd comes of age in 2014.

In 2014, more people will pool their data, their profiles, their preferences, in groups (small and big) to shape new goods and services.

Via social media, histories, ecommerce, endless read/watch/play lists, smartphone GPS services and more, connected consumers are creating vast profiles and data trails that relate to everything from their music preferences to their daily movements. No news there.

Now 2014 will see two certainties:

  1. The technologies that facilitate the creation and passive sharing of those data streams will become ever more ubiquitous (yes, we’ll say it, Google Glass).
  2. Consumer expectations are amplified – yet again – by that ubiquity.

Meaning the connected crowd comes of age, via CROWDSHAPING: new products and services shaped by the aggregated preferences or behavior of (small and big) groups of consumers, as expressed via their data.

Two kinds of CROWDSHAPING to watch (and run with):

  • SMALL CROWDSHAPING: Real-time shaping (and reshaping) of a service around the preferences of the people in an office, a restaurant, on a plane: any space right now.
    Consumers might not care about the tech that makes CROWDSHAPING possible, but they will care about increased relevance – via the accommodation of their own preferences – and a novel mode of discovery via the newly-experienced preferences of their peers. See how CheckinDJ (below) delivers both.
  • BIG CROWDSHAPING: Services intelligently reshaped by the aggregated data on the preferences or behavior of large numbers of consumers.
    One next step for good, old-fashioned crowdsourcing. Consumers get a more functional, efficient service shaped not by opinions of the crowd, but around the way people really behave. And – unlike with many existing crowdsourced solutions – they get it effortlessly, via passive sharing of their data. That’s what IBM promised when it CROWDSHAPED bus route improvements in Africa (below).

OK, we know: privacy! But keep collection and use of data transparent, and many will embrace the benefits*.

Alternatively, dive into the NO DATA counter-trend, also begging to be applied in 2014. 

Crowdshaped playlists match patrons’ tastes

CheckinDJ is a crowdsourced jukebox that arranges a venue's music playlist to match the overall taste of its current patrons. Users register online or via an app, and enter their favorite music genres. Once at a participating venue, they use an NFC-enabled device to check-in. The playlist at the venue automatically adjusts to reflect their taste. Individuals can earn influence points by syncing the app with their social networks, and by checking in with groups of friends. The platform was developed by UK-based Mobile Radicals.

* 57% of consumers are willing to share additional personal information, such as their location, top five Facebook friends’ names and information about family members, in return for financial rewards or better service.
(Coleman Parkes, April 2013)

On-demand minibus service calculates optimal route for those on-board


Following a successful pilot scheme, October 2013 saw Helsinki’s transport authority increase its on-demand minibus service Kutsuplus. The service allows Helsinki residents to request a minibus via their cell phone, choosing a start and end destination. Each bus can carry nine passengers. Users can opt for a private journey or a shared ride, with Kutsuplus calculating the quickest routes for multiple drop-offs. Rides cost EUR 3.50 plus EUR 0.45 per kilometer (USD 4.70 / 0.60).

Using cell phone data to improve bus routes in Africa


During May 2013, IBM’s Dublin research lab used cell phone data to aid the re-design of bus routes across Abidjan, the Ivory Coast’s largest city. Researchers used time and location data – collected from calls and SMS – to assess commuters’ frequent routes and then compared these to the existing public transport infrastructure. According to the data, there were 65 possible improvements that could reduce travel time by 10%.


Why in 2014, China is going to be where the eco-innovation action is.

In 2014, perceptions of China will take another significant turn, as consumers come to realize China is fast becoming the epicenter of truly innovative, superior green consumer innovations, too*.

* Alongside leading Chinese brands in sectors such as mobile tech, luxury and fashion (from WeChat to Bosideng, from Shang Xia to Xiaomi and more) that are simply MADE BETTER IN CHINA.

That shift will be driven by China’s relentless, large-scale efforts to address massive environmental challenges such as energy, transport, construction and more (see a few examples below).

In fact, the idea among many consumers worldwide that Chinese brands and businesses lag behind when it comes to green thinking might just be one of the last great competitive advantages that 'Western' brands enjoy.

When that preconception is overturned in 2014, one of the last barriers keeping Chinese brands and global consumers at a distance is lifted. Just another small, yet pivotal moment in the remapping of global consumerism ;)

Beijing showroom is world’s first LEED v4 beta certified project


In October 2013, furniture manufacturer Haworth announced that its Beijing showroom had been recognized as the world’s first certified LEED v4 beta project by the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) new program. The USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system considers the building’s eco-credentials, including location, energy performance and water efficiency. The showroom is located inside Parkview Green, and incorporates reconfigurable workspaces, and eco-friendly lighting and furniture.

Beijing Subway
Rewards commuters for recycling plastic bottles


In May 2013, the Beijing Subway introduced 40 ‘reverse vending machines’, which enable passengers to offset their travel costs by recycling plastic bottles. For every empty plastic bottle recycled using the machines, commuters receive discounts of between CNY 0.05 and 0.10 on their travel pass.

Philips & CEC
Intelligent street lighting in Chinese cities


The Philips and China Electronics Corporation (CEC) partnership, announced in July 2013, marked an attempt to develop and implement intelligent road and street lighting in cities across China. The joint venture will focus on LED fixtures and lighting management, including Philips CityTouch, a web-based system that allows streetlights to be used when and where they are needed.

Shanghai store made entirely from trash


Opened in Shanghai in August 2013, Nike’s concept store is entirely constructed from trash, including drinks cans, water bottles and old CDs and DVDs. The store can be adapted to different retail layouts and the no-glue construction ensures all materials can be reused.

Chinese Academy of Science
‘Smart’ window saves & stores solar energy


Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Science have unveiled a ‘smart’ window that can save and generate energy. Coated with temperature-sensitive vanadium oxide (VO2), the window can regulate the amount of energy entering a building and store light energy in solar cells within the window frame.

Tianjin Eco-City
Resource-efficient city prioritizes pedestrians


Tianjin Eco-City is a sustainable city initiative developed by the governments of Singapore and China. Located 150km from Beijing, and with a footprint of 30 sq. km, the city is designed to be socially harmonious and resource-efficient. Pedestrians, non-motorized vehicles and public transport take priority alongside green urban spaces. Due for completion in 2020, the Tianjin Eco-City will house around 350,000 residents.


Why in 2014, mind will be the new body.

In 2014, consumer interest in ‘Quantified Self’ products and services will continue to grow, as smartwatches and other powerful yet affordable wearable tech products enter the market.

Much of the sector’s focus has been on physical health to date. The next step? Consumers will increasingly see their smartphones as devices for total lifestyle assistance. Improving techniques for self-treatment, developments in stress-detecting technologies and near-total smartphone penetration in many markets, means consumers will lap up innovations that help track and improve mental wellbeing too.

Two types of consumers fueling this trend:

  • Those for whom mental health is (like physical fitness, career progress, and academic achievements) a new benchmark, yet another area for them to outperform their peers.
  • Those time-starved, overworked, stressed and anxiety-plagued consumers for whom MYCHIATRY innovations offer much needed relief from the pressures of modern life.

And 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.

Whatever the outcome, consumers are already just an app store away from a boost to their day-to-day happiness ;)

NB: Of course, we aren’t suggesting that MYCHIATRY is an adequate solution for everyone’s mental health needs or that it should replace medical counsel.

Stress-sensing video games help players relax


Created to help consumers reduce stress levels, PIP is a wireless biosensor developed in Ireland that reached its funding target on Kickstarter in July 2013. Users hold the device while playing a game (synced via Bluetooth to a monitor or smartphone), and it captures a Galvanic Skin Response from their fingertips in real-time. To succeed in a racing game for example, the player must be more relaxed than their competitor, as characters respond aversely to stress signals. The creators will release a Software Development Kit so others can develop apps.

App allows users to record, share and analyze dreams


Surpassing its Kickstarter funding target during October 2013, Shadow is an app that allows users to record and remember their dreams. An escalating alarm clock wakes the user up gently, increasing the likelihood of dream recall, and the app prompts the user to record the dream via audio or text. Tracking dream and sleep patterns allows curious users to make connections between daily life and dream habits. Each entry is saved to a journal and can be anonymously pushed to the cloud, creating a global database of dreams, which shows users the sentiment and dream content of other participants around the world.

Smart headband tracks focus


The Melon headband and companion app allows wearers to track, monitor and understand their mental focus during a range of activities. The headband measures brain activity using EEG and algorithms detect focus levels, using the data to give personalized feedback. Users can input external factors via the app to discover how time of day, weather conditions and environment all influence their ability to generate and sustain focus. Melon surpassed its Kickstarter target in June 2013, and is due to ship to backers in Q4 2013.

Headphones detect user’s mood and play music accordingly


Developed by Japanese product design brand Neurowear and unveiled in March 2013, the Mico headset consists of headphones and an EEG reader that rests on the wearer’s forehead and senses neural activity. Brain signals allow the device to detect the user’s mood (such as sleepy, stressed or focused), which is shown on an LED earpiece display. The headphones relay the information to a mobile running the Mico app and mood-appropriate music is selected from the database.


Why in 2014, delivering brilliant service without excessive data collection will earn you consumer trust (and profits won’t be far behind ;)

Last year, in the introduction to DATA MYNING, we warned you:

“Brands will have to walk a fine line between offering consumers a valuable (and ideally seamless) service, and freaking them out with aggressive if not downright scary 'services'. Yes, consumers want to feel served to, but they don't like to be watched.”

Well, with 2013 seeing a seemingly-endless stream of brands suffering ‘privacy breaches’ that revealed customers’ information, and the leaked actions of a government agency (who is probably reading this over your shoulder as we speak) – it’s no longer a paranoid minority who is freaked out. Remarkably, two of the most renowned encrypted communications providers in the world (Lavabit and Silent Circle) had to shutter their email services because they no longer felt they could guarantee privacy from government agencies. They (regrettably) recognized that once data was collected, it could be harvested.

This all leads to opportunities in 2014 for NO DATA brands: brands that simply offer brilliant service, while also loudly and proudly eschewing the collection of personal data.

Some stats:

82% of global consumers believe that companies collect too much information on consumers.
(Adobe, June 2013)
86% of US internet users have attempted to remove or mask their online activities, despite only 37% believing it is possible to be completely anonymous online.
(Pew Research Center, September 2013)
93% of email users believe that users should be able to opt-out if they don't want the content of their emails to be scanned in order to target ads.
(GfK & Microsoft, November 2013)

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. 

Why aren’t we accompanying this trend with examples? Because NO DATA is so against the “BIG, BIGGER, BIGGEST” data strategies sweeping through the business world that we haven’t seen anybody doing it well… yet!

So which major B2C brand will make NO DATA a central promise in 2014, and simply offer, “Great service, for everyone, all of the time. No data required.”?


How connected objects will center around people in 2014.

In the media (and in countless innovation labs around the world), the Internet of Things in 2014 will be about the same two things as in 2013: massive numbers, and, well, things.

And when we say ‘massive’, we mean:

The Internet of Things will add USD 1.9 trillion dollars of economic value to the global economy in 2020.
In 2009, there were 2.5 billion connected devices, most of these were personal devices such as cell phones and PCs. In 2020, there will be up to 30 billion connected devices, most of which will be products.
(Both: Gartner, October 2013)

But something else will happen, too: you will see innovations pop-up left and right, centered around the Internet of CARING Things.

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.

Oh, and in case you want to start your own trend, there’s nothing stopping you from coining your own Internet of Things prefixes in 2014. Internet of Mobile Things? Internet of Security Things? Internet of City Things? Internet of Costly, Loved Things? All yours!

Scooter sends alerts in the event of a crash

Xkuty One is a smart electric scooter which automatically alerts the relatives of a rider in the event of a crash. Developed by Spain-based Electric Mobility Company, the bike-scooter hybrid includes an iPhone dock in the handlebars. Using the phone’s gyroscope (which monitors orientation and momentum), Xkuty’s app can detect crashes and automatically sends accident and location notifications to selected contacts. Xkuty One retails at around EUR 2800.

Sensor-integrated shirt monitors medical data


Canadian technology company OMsignal has announced plans to launch a compression shirt which can monitor an individual’s heart rate, breathing and movement. Sensors woven into the fabric collect data which is then sent to the wearer’s cell phone, where they can track and analyze information. Fully machine washable, the shirt is designed to be worn underneath garments or at the gym.

'Intelligent' car includes driver's seat heart rate monitor


In September 2013, Ford unveiled the S-MAX Concept, an intelligent multi-purpose vehicle that includes multiple smart, 'caring' features. The driver's seat, which contains an ECG heart rate monitor, can help avoid mid-journey driver heart attacks and subsequent accidents. An onboard glucose level monitoring system alerts drivers of critical blood sugar levels. The vehicle is capable of communicating short-range via wifi with other similarly equipped cars, allowing warnings of road hazards to be relayed from car to car.

Riddell Insite
Football helmet contains sensors that alert coaches in event of trauma


October 2013 saw US-based Riddell, who manufacture American football helmets, unveil their Insite Impact Response System. The helmets contain sensors, which send an alert to the sidelines when they detect a significant impact. Trained medical professionals can then assess the player for signs of concussion.


Why our new, free, ‘local’ Trend Bulletins will keep you truly in the know, glocally.

2014 will see the consumer arena become even more global, local, flatter, cosmopolitan and so on. Which means that, on a daily basis, you can expect an orgy of compelling consumer-facing innovations emerging from all corners of the globe.


Hence, in addition to this Monthly Trend Briefing, we’re delighted to announce our new free Trend Bulletins for and by Asia, Africa and South & Central America.

Below are only a handful of the trends exclusively featured in the just-launched editions:

Don't miss out! Sign up here »



Which leads to the most important point… Trend watching is all about applying. If you don’t use consumer trends to inspire new, profitable innovations, they’re just ‘nice to know’.

So run with them, combine them, take them in new directions. If you don’t know where to start, check out our CONSUMER TREND CANVAS section, which contains tips on how to unpack and apply trends step by step.

Ideally, you'll end up driving the evolution of a trend, too.



Last but not least, if you’re really serious about staying on top of all the latest consumer trends and related innovations, check out our globally relevant, instantly available, online Premium Service. At a ridiculously affordable all-inclusive price, it’s guaranteed to give you an unfair competitive advantage. Today ;)

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Happy tracking, evaluating, initiating and innovating! trendwatching.com logo