Getting up to speed with 2010’s microtrends

In this installment of Michael Carney’s Marketing Week:

  • Microtrends that matter 2010—it’s the small things that matter. Smaller trends can impact the business, social and political landscapes, so it pays to know be in the ‘trend’ know.
  • Social media: did you really mean to do that?

Microtrends that matter 2010

Here’s our round-up, in no particular order, of many of the microtrends that will impact on us as the year winds through. What are microtrends? According to Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne, co-authors of the book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, they are the smaller trends that go unnoticed or even ignored. But even if they impact on just one percent of the population, that can be enough to create new markets for a business, spark a social movement or even produce political change.

So what’s ahead for New Zealand in 2010? These are some of the microtrends we’re seeing out there:

Recession Rage
We’re tired of the economic downturn and fed up with scrimping and saving. We’ve already cut back on buying takeaway food, eating out in cafes and restaurants, going to shows/events and buying our lunches regularly. Even lattes have become a luxury for more than a third of us. We have to save, but we’re only human — every so often, we’re just going to lash out and spend on something, regardless of whether it’s rational or not.

Surprising Resilience
Tough times still here in 2010? Okay then, if we’ve got to survive, we’ll get back into home cooking, meal planning and even budgeting. The Americans may be microwaving their way through the economic turmoil but at least we Kiwis still know how to boil water.

Recovery Guilt
When the times are a lot more golden, we’re (probably) going to be more frugal, save more — and absolutely going to look for more bargains. We’re totally planning to live more within our means. But (don’t tell anyone) two-thirds of us admit there’s a possibility we just may go back to our old spending habits.

Prove It
Because consumer confidence worldwide last year took a hit, 2010 will see increased consumer demand for proof – most especially by way of reviews from other consumers. More and more, we’ll look for peer validation before we buy almost anything.

Caution: May Contain Puffery
Cynicism rules as consumers become increasingly skeptical about brands’ health and nutrition claims. “If it’s so healthy, why do they have to try so hard to convince us?”

The Rise and Rise of the Smart Phone
By the end of 2009, NZ smartphone penetration stood at 20 percent. Expect that to increase in 2010, and the phones to spread more widely beyond the business community as the cellcos compete for mobile market share.

Local Sourcing
Food retailers and eateries will trumpet the local and hyperlocal origins of many of their products, driven by a combination of marketing spin and a genuine desire to offer sustainable values.

The little global crisis that cried Wolf
We’ve now reached saturation point when it comes to media hyperventilation. Bird flu, Swine flu, global warming? Give us a break. Whenever the next pandemic or potential disaster comes along, we won’t be nearly so willing to dig into our pockets or follow official instructions.

The New Social-ism
2009 saw a tidal wave of new social networking converts, older and less connected than the earlier adopters. These new arrivals, after acclimatising themselves to platforms such as Facebook, will step up the pace in 2010 and start talking amongst themselves more and more, attracting more of their peers and leading to more and richer connections.

Luxury Lite
The good things in life will become a little more affordable in 2010. Conspicuous consumption is long gone, and even the affluent have fallen on harder times thanks to the GFC (“so un-PC to talk about the Global Financial Crisis, dahling”). We’ll make do with the palladium jewellery in 2010, as a sign of solidarity with the nation.

Authenticity Aura
Brand values have suddenly become important. When we consumers have less to spend, we want to invest in things that matter. We may have resisted the Nanny State implications of the last Labour-led Government but we did admire and adopt at least some of the values of the Rod Donald/Jeanette Fitzsimons Green partnership.

Not Quite Live
Television viewing will continue to deliver big ratings in 2010, but it won’t necessarily be live. MySky is now in one in five Sky homes; TiVo is slowly rolling out; and most of the popular shows on the free-to-air networks can be watched online. Freed from the tyranny of the televisual timetable, Kiwis will watch more TV, when and where they want.

The relentless moving from house to house in search of capital gain has been halted by the collapse of the real estate boom. Suddenly homeowners are feeling trapped. Is this really where they want to live for an indefinite period? Is it time to become “house-proud” residents rather than transient tenants? Once financial stability resumes, expect a mix of renovation therapy and/or “must move at any price” impulse selling.

Attention Deficit Diaspora
Too many distractions, too little time. It’s not a new phenomenon, but the pace continues to accelerate. Research suggests that consumers with PVRs (eg MySky, TiVo) fast-forward through commercials to gain more time, not particularly to avoid the ads. To engage the consumer, first catch his or her attention. Not getting any easier.

Family First
As materialism fades and consumers turn back to basics, family and friends become more important. The social networks are becoming increasing enablers, as are services such as Skype that reduce the cost and effort of keeping in touch. Now we can reach out and touch someone … in realtime.

Consumers are looking for safety, simplicity, trust and indulgence, in response to the rising stress and uncertainty of the times. As a result, they tend to gravitate towards either (a) familiar brands from major suppliers; or (b) homegrown offerings with cosy “just-folks-like-us” appeal.

Getting “Off the Grid”
A not-insignificant segment of consumers are looking for ways to become more self sufficient even beyond their spending habits, including household-generated energy, water conservation and purification, self-directed healthcare and private vegetable gardens.

Wandering Eyes
In the best of times, we’re brand-loyal. In the worst of times, not so much. You may have won our hearts back in the day, but wallets speak louder than words right now. Dangle an enticing deal in front of us and we’re anyone’s. Will we be back? Maybe—depends on the appeal of the low-cost alternative.

He’s a Celebrity—Get Him Out of Here
Too many high-profile celebrity failings mean that consumers are tiring of the cult of celebrity. We still have a few heroes left, but those feet of clay are proving highly contagious amongst those we used to worship.

From Trade-Up to Trade-Off
Key food shopper behaviours in the new economy include advance preparation to determine best value, comparing unit prices, limiting purchases of premium products, and moving to store brands for a better price. Impulse purchases are giving way to planning ahead. Who’d have thought?

So what?
Why do these Micro Trends matter? Because they will collectively colour the spectacles through which consumers view your offerings in 2010. We recommend that you choose a few of the trends that seem most relevant to your product or service, and ask yourself and your colleagues what the implications are for your operation [we should mention that we’re available to facilitate such a session on a project basis].

2010. In the movies (specifically, in the sequel to Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey) it was known as “the year we make contact”. Turns out that it’s really “the year we make do”.

Social media: did you really mean to do that?

In the 2010 Digital Outlook from the Society of Digital Agencies,  Steve Slivka, Co-Founder, Creative Director, and Patrick Berry, Co-Founder, Director of Tools and Methods, Colossal Squid, gave us The Top Ten Reasons Your Company Is Not Ready for Social Media. They’re too good not to repeat here.

10. You want to know everything about your consumer. Now.

Answer this – would you like to know everything possible about the 15 people that presently visit your site, or a little bit less about a lot more people discussing your brand? Social media is like dog food. Bite-sized chunks over time. Also, if you are going to create your own community, be prepared to drive to it (more on this later).

POV: Investing in social media requires a leap of faith. It’s about making your brand relevant within the space versus shoving traffic down through the purchase funnel. It can be about that, but not until you’ve shown some value and built some trust. Key performance indicators lie not in Google Analytics but in social media monitoring tools like Radian 6 and others. Much can be learned by listening to organic conversations.

9. Facebook isn’t big enough.

You want to build and own your own branded proprietary social media network. Congratulations. Starting your own business is an exciting and challenging gambit.

POV: Be prepared to provide wares for this value exchange proposition including compelling content, moderation, tips and other helpful stuff. Car dealers advertise for people to visit their lot. So will you. Online media drivers, including rich media advertising, Facebook apps, and other promotions will make your new business a success.

8. You are not staffed for social media.
If social media is your brand interacting with consumers at a micro level, you better be ready to participate. It goes beyond Tweeting about spectacular holiday sales. Social community demands moderation to stimulate discussions, respond to comments and create an open, genuine dialog with your consumers. Yes, dialogue means talking back. A LOT. More harm than good can be done by hosting a party, then slipping out the back door to catch a movie once the guests have arrived. Content creation within branded networks or mainstream avenues, including Facebook, requires production time and dollars.

POV: Account for dedicated and motivated additional staffing who can speak in the appropriate brand voice.

7. Social Media cuts across verticals in your organization.
Can your company draw from resources across the entire company to respond to customer or PR needs? In real-time? Everyday? That’s a lot of silos to work across. Don’t count on Bob from accounting or Jean from legal to help out on conversing to your 18-24 demo.
POV: For real-time social initiatives to succeed, you need an advocate within your organization that is a key decision maker, and has a Batphone to key stakeholders. They are the champion for your content. And you’ll need to pick up that Batphone from time-to-time.

6. Real-time means like—now
Social media requires real-time responses that cannot be forecasted. If you have a smashing success on your hands then congratulations; you now have an even worse “predicament.” More people, more hardware, more analysis, more internal meetings, more funds requirements. Well – can’t get any worse, right. Guess again. You’ll now need to do battle with … (#5 below).

POV: You need trained moderators who can speak in a genuine voice on the brand. “For real” genuinely. It’s okay to post, “I don’t know.” Be for real. Have a conversation with the customer.

5. Procurement will freak.
“You need extra funds approved for what project by when?” “Aren’t Facebook and Twitter free?” Chances are if you must expand scope to build on timely conversations your procurement department (tag teaming with legal) might not accelerate this process. Plan accordingly, whatever that means.

POV: Pick up the Batphone for this one.

4. Click to Purchase.
Retailers are happiest when they are selling things. You’ll have a hard time justifying all that social media cash without an omnipresent click-through to purchase.

POV: There’s no need to divert traffic to your site if they can purchase within the social media space.

3. You can’t own the Internet®.
We just knew legal would make another appearance. You’re so excited about owning the ideas that come from your community that you need to let it foster and grow. Let go of your perceived intellectual property rights in favor of participation and trust. Consider tangible and intangible incentives for compensating community contributors for their ideas.

POV: Conversation comes from the exchange of ideas. Ideas come from people. You cannot own the Internet. Sorry.

2. “Advertising Honesty” is not honesty.
We’re talking “honesty honesty.”

POV: Don’t be afraid of negative dialogue. It’s an opportunity to be responsive and be a good listener. Score points and reinforce brand values with your customers. It’s about people.

1. Be worth it.
Be useful. Be engaging. Be worth their time. You may end up even being helpful.

POV: With all the chatter across the digital spectrum your customers will come back to you if you’re truly helpful. Value exchange.

If you ant to get yourself ready for social media, make sure you check out the Marketing Rebooted eCourses. They’ll equip you with tools to face the challenges facing marketers as we head into the second decade of the new millennium. Under that name, we’ll be bringing you a series of eCourses for marketers trained in traditional advertising and marketing methods, who know a little about new generation marketing tools and techniques—but not enough. The first installment will be on social media. And there’s a rundown of the course content and what it will cover here.

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