July / August 2012 Trend Briefing:
Why more than ever, consumers lust after the new. And why that spells heaven or hell for brands.


The ‘new’ has never been hotter, as the entire world, from emerging to mature economies, is now creating new products, services and experiences on a daily, if not hourly basis, in every B2C industry. Which moves 'new' from being a tired marketing ploy by ‘old’ brands ('new and improved!'), to a genuine, exciting proposition for consumers.

Here are half a dozen forces propelling NEWISM into even more prominence:


Creative destruction may have an alarming ring to it, but it's something to be celebrated (despite recessions, bank runs and collapsing currencies). With the volume and pace of innovation faster than ever, the 'creation' is outweighing the 'destruction'. In fact the entire world, from emerging* to mature economies, is now creating new products, services and experiences on a daily, if not hourly basis, in every B2C industry. Which moves 'new' from being a tired marketing ploy by ‘old’ brands ('new and improved!'), to a genuine, exciting proposition for consumers.

Show us a day in which a previously unheard of brand, or even individual, doesn't release a new – and better and more convenient and more surprising – offering that promises a novel or improved experience. A global celebration of innovation, of the new, indeed.

* Do re-read our previous Trend Briefing covering MADE BETTER IN CHINA or dive into the never-ending (free!) avalanche of new business ideas and concepts on Springwise (our sister-company).

2 million patents were applied for in 2010, up from 1.4 million in 2000
(Source: World Intellectual Property Organization,
December 2011)


Everything is getting faster and FSTR ;-). The online world, with its relentless acceleration and amplification – of information, of excitement, of attention – is of course a major contributor to NEWISM.

Witness phenomena such as Instagram (10 million users in under a year) or Draw Something (35 million users in just 6 weeks!). And just to highlight NEWISM’s often-fleeting nature, many Draw Something users have now abandoned the app, no doubt off to seek something new ;-).

Products too: witness Pebble raising over USD 10 million in 37 days on Kickstarter*. Indeed, any new innovation that taps pent-up demand will erupt and spread faster than ever. Taco Bell sold 100 million of its new Doritos Locos Tacos in 10 weeks, making it the chain’s fastest ever product launch.

* Kickstarter is a great enabler of the ‘new’ innovation ecosystem: anyone can now test, fund and launch almost any new idea.

“Excitement and attention are being amplified and accelerated.”


The desire to tell interesting STATUS STORIES is further fuelling consumers’ never-ending lust for new experiences, especially acute in a world where so much of identity is expressed online.

Any experience that few others can or have had is a sure-fire status symbol. However, with more people than ever searching for ‘unique’ experiences, they are becoming harder-to-find and thus often expensive. The (cheaper, more practical) alternative therefore is for status-hungry consumers to resort to EXPERIENCE CRAMMING: collecting and mixing-and-matching as many, and as wide a variety, of new experiences as possible.

“Consumers want to collect and mix-and-match as many new and varied experiences as possible.”

Image: Diesel's 'School of Island Life'


On top of collecting experiences, in a world where everything is transient keeping one's finger firmly on the pulse of the endless global torrent of new products and services (see driver 1), showing one's connectedness and being in the know, will be an ever-richer source of social status (especially for SOCIAL-LITE consumers). Yes, 'new' is the new prestige ;-)

In fact, supporting consumers in their pursuit of the newest of the new, or to be first in finding, knowing, doing or owning something is an opportunity in itself. Just one innovative example: in April 2012 Nike launched a number of highly collectible limited edition sneakers using a Twitter reservation system. Stores would randomly tweet specific product hashtags during the day of release, and the first followers to include this in a direct message to the store would reserve a pair of the sneakers.

“Social status will come from being in-the-know, and from being part of the 'new'.”


The innovation-spurring eco-system described above is also totally transparent, with everything now reviewed and rated the moment it’s created, meaning the risk for consumers of trying out something new is approaching zilch.

Furthermore, new business models (from LIFE: SUBSCRIBED and TRYVERTISING, to OWNER-LESS and RECOMMERCE described below) are enabling consumers to experience the ‘new’ with less commitment, and at lower cost.

“The risk of trying out something new is approaching zilch.”


Many possessions don’t (need to) get old anymore. For consumers who’ve embraced OWNER-LESS solutions, renting or sharing everything (from cars to clothes to electronics), perpetual upgrades and ‘new’ experiences are but a booking away.

And, thanks to the RECOMMERCE trend, even for those consumers who have bought items, it’s never been easier to unlock the value in past purchases. Novel brand buy-backs, exchange schemes, online platforms and mobile marketplaces, offer smart and convenient options for consumers keen to ‘trade in to trade up’ to the new.

Oh, and online, everything is of course endlessly if not automatically renewed and refreshed (whether ‘owned’ or just accessed).

“Possessions don't (need to) get old anymore.”

What NEWISM is NOT (and the inevitable counter-trend)

Now, NEWISM is not ‘just’ traditional product innovation. The 'new and improved' from yesteryear has been surpassed by a genuinely innovative and creative explosion, taking place worldwide.

It is also not just breathless, eco-unfriendly, product-replacing madness (see also driver 6): in fact, there's an absolute avalanche of new eco-friendly products and services out there as well.

Last but not least, it does not mean all consumer attention will be focused on the new. There will still be endless value in heritage brands, known to deliver constant, trusted quality and provenance. There will be value in well-told, compelling stories. In comfort. In tradition. In the local. In curation of existing products. In tailoring. In any of the dimensions that we’ve looked at in previous Trend Briefings. Remember, no trend applies to all consumers, all of the time, and the ‘new’ doesn’t always kill the old.


NEWISM is creative destruction, hyper-competition, globalism, consumerism on steroids and a celebration of innovation, all in one. For brands, new and established, it boils down to capturing and holding consumers’ attention. While consumers' attention spans might be shorter and shorter, the rewards can be instant and massive. And it's not like you have any choice anyway ;-)

Need (even more) ideas? Kick off a brainstorming session with a few of our recent Trend Briefings or spottings from our sister-site Springwise and see what new concepts, products, services and campaigns emerge that you can run with.

Meanwhile, while you embrace NEWISM, we’re already working on our NEW Trend Briefing ;-) Make sure you’re subscribed! trendwatching.com logo