Gazing into the tea leaves

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Happy New Year to you all. Over at Corporate Eye, Susan Gunelius references two JWT Intelligence reports just out that are predicting these five key trends for 2012. Here’s how I see what JWT are seeing.

1. Price Opportunities: Brands will introduce low-cost entry-point products into markets for price-sensitive consumers with “stripped down offerings” and smaller sizes.

My view: Agree. The combination of depressed consumer spending and the rise of house brands will see brands looking to diversify their price points. In many sectors, I think this will be accompanied by diversity in the service experience as well – with online increasingly offering lower prices and help-yourself service levels, and full-price, full-service reserved for physical outlets.

2. Shared Value: Companies will shift from simply donating money to charitable causes to integrating social causes into brand strategies.

My view: Inevitable, and in many ways mandated by both social media and the politicised consumer. Customers will want to see companies doing more than just talking about their social concerns or throwing dollars blindly at a problem in exchange for the feelgood and the publicity. They now want to see CSR applied in meaningful ways that affect real change. Management won’t disagree because this will make CSR initiatives themselves more measurable.

3. Interactivity: With a growing trend toward making screens interactive, brands will focus on finding new ways to engage consumers through touch screens and experiences.

My view: Inevitable. Interactivity may be a experience premium in places at the moment, but its effect is rapidly commoditising as consumers expect more and more engagement. Soon those companies that aren’t catering for highly mobile and tech-savvy consumers will literally be out of touch.

4. Redefining Age: “Old age” is changing with the term focusing on an older audience than ever and a more active older audience. Brands will find ways to better communicate with and target the aging audience.

My view: Yes, but this is just part of the equation. Western populations are not just aging, they are becoming increasingly dominated economically by women. That demographic shift will need to be addressed simultaneously if brands are to make competitive headway. The implications of ‘femonomics’ in particular are far-reaching in terms of even marketing basics like sales models, experience planning and product ranging.

5. Tangible Add-ons: As more content and products become digital, brands will look for ways to add a tangible, tactile experience to those digital products and services and vice versa.

My view: yes and no. As per 1, I think that online will become the DIY access point for a range of products and services particularly in sectors where margins-per-serve are tight. At the same time, it’s easy to see that some digital and physical brands could mirror the developments that are currently occurring in manu-services and look to introduce tangible experiences and services across a range of platforms that add value to what they deliver and at the same time diversify their income bases.

OK, your turn. Drink up please and share – what do you see ahead?


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