Marketing and Business Growth Trends
Our friends at Trendwatching have spotted some new products that reflect emerging consumer trends. B2C companies looking for smart business growth in Portland will examine these trends and see how they might impact their product offerings. Here are the 5 most important of these trends as I see them.
- Happiness. The search for happiness has been on the radar screen as an emerging theme for the past few years. The economic downturn has only exacerbated this trend, as people look to find meaning and fulfillment beyond monetary rewards. That being said, the two apps that Trendwatching reports on (Moodagent and The Mood Boost Brain Massage) have more to do with relating to a person’s immediate mood. For example, Moodagent categorizes a person’s music library into mood categories, such as sensuality, tenderness, joy, aggressiveness and tempo. So I am more apt to call this trend “Mood-I-Ness.”
- Cash-Less. This is a big trend that major companies are jumping on. Companies from Starbucks to MacDonalds to Samsung are enabling customers to pay for products via their smartphones. Google Wallet is an Android app that turns a user’s phone into a payment device. Users pay by tapping their phone on Mastercard paypass terminals. Stores can reward these customers with free offerings or extra loyalty points. More and more consumers will opt for going cash-free and the smartphone will eventually replace the swipe of a credit or debit card. Innovations in cashless technology has been especially hot in developing countries, where mobile phone penetration is very high, but banking infrastructure is not.The Cash-Less trend is closely related to a trend I have talked about before and that is the oncoming use of smartphones to make on-the-spot offers to consumers as they approach retail outlets.
- Embedded Stories. Brand strategiests often use stories to help create a deeper meaning on the brand or product, and to develop a more meaningful relationship with consumers. What’s exciting is using the technology to allow consumers to embed their own stories into products. Using technologies such as RFID tagging, companies can deepen and enrich those stories. RememberMe is a collaborative project between TOTeM (Tales of Things and Electronic Memory) and Oxfam, that infuses personal history into donated items by enabling people to attach stories. I am a champion for this technology being used in the wine industry. When I’m standing in front of a large selection of wines, I would love to pint my smartphone at a bottle and hear about where it’s from, its rating, what it tastes like, perhaps a story from the winemakers themselves.
- Life: Subscribed. Subscription products and services have been trending upwards for the past five years. It’s nothing new for consutling services to provide online memberships. What’s new here is an increase in subscriptions for products. In my Portland Marking Coach en-devours one of my favorite citing is a monthly grooming product sent every month to men in the UK from Men are Useless. Sounds like a subscription I could use! For women in the U.S., Hoseanna will send you a pair of run-proof pantyhose every month. And taking this to an extreme level, Not Another Bill sends guess what? Yes, a “surprise gift” in the mail every month. There’s probably a linked trend of A-Lone-Ness somewhere here.
- Now-or-Never-Commerce. This trend plays off of the tweeted special offers from stores and taco trucks where customers are given a limited time to come by and pick up a special offer. Groupon has successfully used this sense of excitement of a spontaneous offer very effectively in sending out blasts promoting a very limited time offer. This is a tactic I recommend to retail outlets who love to tweet. Don’t just give me an update. Make me an offer. Locally, one merchant recently tweeted folks in Portland, OR who were attending the Portland Rose Festival Parade to stop on by their store. But they did not give them a reason (e.g. 10% off coupon) to come in. So, the more unique and valuable the spontaneous offer, the more people will respond.
There are other trends that Trendwatching notes, but these first five stick out in my mind as especially noteworthy. Product developers, marketing leaders and company CEO’s – take note and capitalize on these for growth.