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10 Consumer Trends Wreaking Havoc On Brands

10 Consumer Trends Wreaking Havoc On Brands

This article is by Mark Potts, managing director, Consumer Insights, for Mindshare, a GroupM media services agency.

It’s no secret that consumer behavior is at the core of any major marketer’s decision-making process. The challenge, of course, is accurately determining how consumers are responding to the societal changes and influences that ultimately impact their buying decisions.

With that in mind, Mindshare has identified the current trends advertisers are either facing now or will face in the very near future that will impact their commercial messaging. What we found are frustrated consumers, rising subcultures, and dramatically changing TV and mobile landscapes that threaten to wreak havoc with the marketplace unless they are addressed.

The trends were culled from a range of proprietary and secondary sources. Proprietary sources included Mindshare’s “Scout Network,” a global community of leading-edge consumers (filmmakers, photographers, graphic designers, among others) who feed us their observationsabout emerging trends in their cities. Additional proprietary research came from Mindreader, our agency’s annual global survey of consumers’ lifestyles, habits and attitudes.

The trends touch on everything from teenagers actually taking more responsibility for their actions to the rapidly increasing role that visual assets are playing in all forms of everyday communication platforms. Herewith is a list of our top 10:

1. Frustration Nation

Consumers are frustrated. They’re irritated with institutions and tepid about companies. This trend is a result of the economic downturn’s disproportionate impact on lower and middle income consumers and a feeling of being ignored by institutions and, at times, companies. Trust in institutions continues to fall (e.g. only 32% of Americans trust the banks, 9% trust the government, source: Mindshare)) and, more worryingly, we’ve seen a recent deterioration in love for brands. We’re in a period of disengaged materialism.

2. The Human Touch

A repercussion of consumer frustration is an increasing reliance on other people, which has, in turn, created a desire to have humans at the center of brand experiences. Some brands are responding by reinvesting in both offline and online customer service. The desire for the human touch isn’t just limited to other humans. Technology itself is becoming more human-like, and marketers need to do a better job of incorporating the human touch into their brand experiences in 2012.

3. Life on Pause

In today’s environment, many consumers find themselves at a standstill. For many this is the pause in the American dream, for others it’s a pause in starting their adult lives or ending their working lives. For brands this means communicating with new and altered life stages, an ongoing focus on value, and changing media behaviors.

4. Rising Stars

We see ongoing shifts in the mainstreaming of Hispanic and LGBT consumers. Women continue to assert their dominance over the entertainment industry, and returning veterans have a distinct set of issues and needs. These shifting groups create new brand and communications opportunities.

5. Generation Nice

Highly social adolescents are increasingly focused on responsibility, fairness, and being nice – values marketers will need to understand further as they engage with this new generation of consumers.

6. The New Tube

The role of the TV set will continue to morph closer to the PC screen, while Internet properties such as Netflix are developing original content and social networking sites such as Facebook increasingly act as a distribution business. Not to be outdone, big retailers like Wal-Mart are looking for a piece of the pie with their own platforms, such as Vudu.

7. Pocket Money

Smartphones are fundamentally changing the consumer purchase experience. From an in-store research tool to a payment device that replaces the wallet to an e-commerce channel,mobile devices are becoming an integral part of the customer journey for many consumers.

8. Visualize This

Culture is increasingly visual. The video lifestyle is upon us as devices create more occasions to consume, create visual content and express ourselves. Social media is the catalyst to taking and sharing photos, and smartphones make it instantaneous and fun. We also see visualization increasing in data infographics, and in the enduring sharing of photoshopped images and GIFs which create a level of expression, often viral and socially relevant. Brands need to embrace the trend and be as visually compelling as possible.

9. Backtrack

An ongoing sense of anxiety means consumers are yearning for past times of authenticity and calm. This manifests itself in the view of the 1990s as the ‘new 1950s’ – when the world was last prosperous – as well as the desire for the products and entertainment of childhood.

10. Life is a Game

Tough, uncertain times create a desire for escape and levity. This is partly unveiled as a desire to play and have fun. In addition, play and fun are a means to satisfy the desire for human interaction (see the Human Touch trend). We see games and entertainment entering consumer spheres that are generally seen as chore-like, or low engagement, such as health and grocery shopping. This means opportunities for brands to put play and game-like ideas at the center of their strategic communications.

Mark Potts

This article was written by Mark Potts and was sourced from www.forbes.com at:


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