The following quotes are from the article Consumer trends in three different worlds by Andy Hines, in The Futurist July – August 2008.
These are the top 20 trends affecting consumer life around the world:
Trend 1: ageing population. Non-retiring seniors … stay active. Companies … want to tap their valuable expertise and experience. Many seniors will insist on working on their terms, … working conditions … establishing home-based freelance businesses.
Zern’s take: Create products, services, opportunities to target an ageing but young-at-heart population. Don’t make the text on your website too small to read; but don’t treat me like an old fool either. It is time to embrace the reality of ageing.
Trend 2: changing families. … traditional family on the endangered species list. Single person households is the fastest-growing type of household … second only to multigenerational households. Traditional age-based segmentation is not a reliable indicator of people’s actions or interests.
Zern’s take: treat demographic data with a sack of salt. Beware historical assumptions about individuals within demographic groups. Tribes made up of individuals (from a range of age or demographic groups) who share similar interests, passions, drivers are more effective ways to think about your market. We are all individuals, so talk to us as such.
Trend 3: migration. It is logistically easier … to relocate. … raising challenging social and political issues. More organisations will … diversify their workforces … global economy that demands an international perspective.
Zern’s take: it is time for organisations large and small to look beyond their traditional cultural/ political boundaries and start being aware of and connecting with the world at large. Deal with people. Smell the humanity.
Trend 4: population growth. … the global population is going to top off at somewhere between 9 billion in 10 billion people. … [first world countries] will have too few people and too few workers. This concern results from the common misconception that economies and organisations must continue to grow.
Zern’s take: growth is a choice. We can no longer assume that business success is all about growing ever bigger forever. A new definition of success is required that looks beyond simplistic numbers and charts.
Trend 5: urbanisation. … anyone armed with a laptop or PDA can connect to the world, and the workplace, via the Internet. …interesting choices … about where to live and work. Managing virtual workforces will present challenges … need … new ways to measure productivity based on output or value created…
Zern’s take: there are more opportunities now than ever before for each of us (especially in the developed world) to design our own lives; free from traditional expectations or conventions about work and life. There are also huge opportunities for organisations to come up with innovative ways of leveraging a global talent pool.
The open source movement is an example of how an abundance economy might work.
Another indicator amongst young people is that they are less inclined to follow traditional past of earning a living.
Some, for example may spend their day blogging and not getting paid, because they believe that if they provide value it will pay off at some point, some time, somewhere. We might call this the “karma economy”.
Zern’s take: abundance and karma. Two concepts with interesting implications, and opportunities, for business practice.
Trend 6: Asia are rising. Both China and India are ascending the economic ladder… The 21st century can be characterised as the Asian century. … more economically and militarily competitive, but … also offer large and lucrative markets…
Zern’s take: China here I come! (Yes, I speak and read Mandarin, and type it very slowly.)
Trend 7: consumerism. For the first time, hundreds of millions of people … will be living in a consumer economy. … the work and lifestyle patterns of the people will shift. … more money does not equal more happiness. The evolution of consumerism is likely to play out in different ways around the world…
Zern’s take: this is the opportunity to review entrenched assumptions about capitalism and consumerism and their impact on our lives and happiness. There are lessons here for economies at all stages of development.
Trend 8: middle-class growth. Rather than haves and have-nots, it is … between the haves and have-lots … Increasingly, consumers are willing to spend lots of money on “identity-related” purchases, while other less-important purchases are based solely on cost.
Zern’s take: we are moving away from mass manufacturing to mass customisation or even individualised crafting. Rise up all you artists and craftsmen’s of the world – your time has come.
Trend 9: time pressure. … consumers in wealthy [first world] nations consistently say they never have enough time to do everything on their to-do lists. … free time is more likely to actually decrease as people spend more time working in their growing economies. … businesses may benefit if they provide time-saving products. It also serves as a reminder of the value of customer service.
Zern’s take: convenience, or the lack of annoyance, are new ways to differentiate between essentially similar products and services. A bank’s annoying telemarketing becomes a disincentive to new business; especially when they already have ill-differentiated offerings.
Trend 10: personal outsourcing. Today’s time shortage is leading consumers to outsource services they used to provide for themselves. … great opportunities for an increasing number of businesses to earn money by offering convenience…
Zern’s take: as businesses deal with more and more of their customers personal lives, new ways of doing business must evolve. Emotional connection, emotional maturity, dialogue, empathy, niceness, … these are all personal qualities missing from many big businesses today. Then again this niche is perhaps better serviced by very small businesses where one-to-one connections are possible. It is no longer B2C or B2B; it’s O2O!