Economic uncertainty will continue to impact consumer mindset: JWT

MUMBAI: JWT‘s center for provocative thinking JWTIntelligence, has released its seventh annual yearend forecast of key trends that will "drive" or "significantly impact" consumer mindset and behaviour in the year ahead.

Continued economic uncertainty, new technologies and the idea of shared responsibility are driving or at the center of several trends in 2012, the report reveals.

"With our annual trends forecast, we aim to bring the outside in - to help inspire ideas beyond brand, category and consumer conventions - and to identify emerging opportunities so they can be leveraged for business gain," JWT director of trend spotting Ann Mack said. "Trends, like any complex and dynamic human phenomenon, are not preordained - once they are spotted, they can be shaped." 
The 10 key trends are:

Navigating the new normal: the economy will push brands into opening up more entry points for cost-sensitive consumers as the ‘new normal‘ becomes a prolonged normal in the developed world. Marketers will find new opportunity in creating stripped down offerings, smaller size and otherwise more accessible products and services.

Live a Little: Faced with constant reminders about what to do (exercise more, eat better) and what not to do (smoke, over spend), and fatigued from several years of austerity, consumers will look for ways to live a little without giving up a lot. People have been exercising more self control, and increasingly they‘re looking to let loose once in a while; indulging in sinful things, splurging on treats and escaping from today‘s many worries.

Generation go: While twenty something in the developed world feel they‘ve been dealt an unfair deck, there are many who are finding opportunity in economic adversity. Out of continued joblessness or discontent with the status quo will spring an unprecedented entrepreneurial mindset, enabled by technologies that obliterate traditional barriers to entry. A so-called lost generation will transform itself into uniquely resourceful cohort.

The rise of shared value: Rather than simply doling out checks to good causes, some corporations are starting to shift their business models, integrating social issues into their core strategies. The aim is to create shared value, a concept that reflects the growing belief that generating a profit and achieving social progress are not mutually exclusive goals.

Food, as the new Eco-issue: The environmental impact of our food choices will become a more prominent concern as stakeholders-brands, governments and activist organizations-drive awareness around the issue and rethink what food is sold and how it‘s made. As more regions battle with food shortages and/or spiking costs, smarter practices around food will join the stable of green ‘best practices‘. 
Marriage optional: A growing gang of women is taking an alternate life route, one that doesn‘t include marriage as an essential checkpoint. Both in the West, where this trend is building, and in the East, where it‘s gaining momentum, ‘happily ever after‘ is being redefined as a household of one, cohabiting or single motherhood.

Reengineering Randomness: As our individual worlds become more personalised and niche and the types of content, experiences and people we are exposed to become narrower, greater emphasis will be placed on reintroducing randomness, discovery, inspiration and different points of view into our worlds.

Screened interactions: More flat surfaces are becoming screens, and more screens are becoming interactive. Increasingly we‘ll be touching them, gesturing at them and talking to them-and becoming accustomed to doing so as part of our everyday behaviors. This is opening up novel opportunities to inform, engage and motivate consumers.

Celebrating Aging: Popular perceptions of aging are changing. People of all ages are taking a more positive view of growing older. And as demographic and cultural changes, along with medical advances, help to shift attitudes, we‘ll redefine when ‘old age‘ occurs and what the term means.

Objectifying Objects: As objects get replaced by digital/virtual counterparts, people are fetishizing the physical and the tactile. As a result we‘ll see more ‘motivational objects‘, items that accompany digital property to increase perceived value, and digital tools that enable creation of physical things.

The report predicts that on tech side, more flat surfaces will become screens, and more screens will be interactive-touching them, gesturing at them and talking to them will become part of our everyday behaviors. And as technology makes our individual worlds more personalized and niche-and narrows the types of content, experiences and people we‘re exposed to-greater emphasis will be placed on reintroducing randomness, discovery, inspiration and different points of view into our worlds.

JWT‘s 10 Trends for 2012 report is the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted by JWTIntelligence throughout the year. For this report, they conducted quantitative surveys in the US and the UK using Sonar, JWT‘s proprietary online tool. (They surveyed 531 Americans and 524 Britons age 18+ from 31 October to 8 November. Data is weighted by age, gender and income.) They also received inputs from nearly 70 JWT planners across more than two dozen markets, and interviewed experts and influencers across sectors including technology, luxury, social responsibility and academia.

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