Trend watchers – us included – love to obsess over the new. But regular readers often ask us what’s happened to past trends, and of course that’s something we religiously track too. Which is why this month, we take a look back at five past trends*, including one from 2009 (gasp!): the developments, the status quo, and the many future innovation opportunities they will continue to offer (for those who still need their NEWISM-fix ;)
* These are a random selection. We could have picked almost any of our past trends here (except for perhaps ‘JINGLE CASTING’ ;-), because powerful trends – being rooted in deep consumer needs, wants and desires – don’t just disappear, or stop being relevant once they get absorbed into the mainstream. They continue to evolve, they spawn sub-trends, they combine with other trends to form hybrid trends and so on…
We defined this trend back in 2009 as:
“Whether it’s selling their insights to corporations, hawking their creative output to fellow consumers, or renting out unused assets, consumers will increasingly become SELLSUMERS, too. Made possible by the online revolution’s great democratization of demand and supply, and further fueled by a global recession that leaves consumers strapped for cash, the SELLSUMERS phenomenon is yet another manifestation of the mega-trend that is 'consumer participation'.”
This is now a trend that is totally and utterly mainstream, with a whole host of platforms servicing every aspect of the ever-growing SELLSUMER economy, from apartments to cars to food and beyond. And since 2009, as everything social and mobile has exploded, (re)selling one’s goods or time or expertise, is infinitely easier, more convenient, more transparent, and more reliable than ever before, as the examples below show.
With SELLSUMER options now available in almost every sector, expect platforms to combine or integrate their offerings with other, complementary platforms: think being notified of local cars to rent when you book an apartment on Airbnb, or nearby home-cooked meals.
The SELLSUMER trend also heralds a bigger shift in the consumer arena too. As people become (mini) businesses themselves (or at the very least deal with fellow SELLSUMERS more often), they will expect ‘traditional’ businesses and brands to behave differently; for interactions to be more authentic, generous, ‘human’, and on an equal footing.
Back in 2009, Airbnb had just launched. The site recently announced that the number of spaces listed on the site grew from 120,000 to 300,000 during 2012, and in the same year, 3 million guests traveled using the site (compared to the 1 million in the three years from launch to the start of 2012). The company also opened 11 global offices, including Singapore, Delhi and São Paulo.
In April 2013, peer-to-peer car rental service RelayRides added its ‘Renting Social’ feature. Users can advertise the fact that they want to rent a car to their Facebook friends, who can then make their vehicles available through the marketplace. The process aims to reduce the probability of dealing with unknown third parties.
Thuisafgehaald is a platform which connects domestic chefs in the Netherlands to hungry diners. Launched in March 2012, users post details of the meal on offer, set a price (or offer it for free), indicate when it will be served, the number of servings available, as well as a photograph if available. The site has over 5,500 chefs registered in the Netherlands, and has expanded to cover 9 countries, including the US, UK, Germany and Sweden.
Launched in April 2013, Sold. aims to make selling online completely seamless for aspiring SELLSUMERS. Users of the mobile app take a photo of the object they wish to sell, and using “smart pricing analytics”*, the service attaches a price tag and finds a buyer. Once a sale has been agreed, sellers are sent a Sold. box, which comes “pre-paid, pre-labeled, pre-insured, tracked, and filled with bubble wrap”. They can then leave it at a designated drop-off spot, or arrange to have it picked up by the Sold. team.
* How’s that for a POINT & KNOW (see below) crossover? ;)
This is what we said about MATURIALISM back in 2010:
“Thoroughly exposed to (if not participating in) an uncensored, opinionated and raw world (especially online!), experienced consumers no longer tolerate being treated like yesteryear’s easily shocked, inexperienced, middle-of-the-road audiences. Able to handle much more honest conversations, more daring innovations, more quirky flavors, more risqué experiences, these consumers increasingly appreciate brands that push the boundaries.”
The MATURIALISM trend is now less about shock-value, and more about entering into a mature exchange with consumers, as shown by the UNICEF and Samoa Air examples below. Start by being brutally honest, if not totally transparent (if not FLAWSOME).
Brands that want to up their maturity levels should think about becoming DEMANDING BRANDS. Forget putting the customer first, don’t just ask nicely, it’s time to take the pro-active step of demanding customers take painful-but-much-needed actions, with you setting the right example, of course. Remember though, customers have to care about what you demand from them, and more importantly why. So make it matter.
April 2013 saw UNICEF Sweden launch its hard-hitting ‘Likes don’t save lives’ fundraising campaign, designed to spread awareness that social media ‘Likes’ have limited or no real-world impact, and don’t finance the delivery of life-saving vaccines.
April 2013 saw Samoa Air launch its ‘A kilo is a kilo is a kilo’ scheme. Passengers’ ticket prices are calculated on the total weight they wish to be transported (i.e. the weight of themselves and their luggage), with rates starting from USD 0.50 per kilo on selected flights.
During May 2013, the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa hosted The Exchange, a pop-up shop to encourage donor registration. The shop was stocked with designer-donated clothing and accessories, but items could not be purchased with cash or credit cards. Instead, only once consumers had signed up to the Foundation’s organ donor program, were they allowed to choose one item from the shop.
February 2013 saw the Hachikyo seafood restaurant in Japan introduce a scheme where diners not finishing their tsukko meshi (rice and salmon roe) dish, must pay a ‘fine’ and donate to a fund for local fishermen. The menu explains that the donation is designed to highlight the dangerous working conditions for the fishermen who harvest the roe.