.. Trends - 2007 Consumer Trends and Counter Trends
Emerging and Evolving Trends for 2007
While attitudes, perceptions and behavior have evolved for centuries, what is news is the speed of evolution born of new ideas, instantaneous facts and opinions, and physical capabilities. As individuals accept change more rapidly, some trends become cultural characteristics in less than a decade, observes Hallmark's trends expert, Marita Wesely-Clough. And countertrends are spawned by every trend.
Wesely-Clough expects this pattern to intensify as society rethinks everything - from the definition of "luxury" to the possibility of a dying planet to the power of one individual.
"A social trend becomes part of a culture when it lasts five to eight years or more, Wesely-Clough says. "Bargain hunting, for example, has become the cultural norm. When we identified the bargain or good-deal mentality emerging in 1998, it was surfacing as a countertrend to designer brands and upscale stores. During the past decade, deep discount and bargain stores have grown into an accepted mind set, invading car buying, surgery and more."
Wesely-Clough sees an emerging countertrend - the new middle market with moderate pricing, reasonable quality, and realistic expectations.
Wesely-Clough tracks shifts in attitudes and behaviors to help Hallmark product and creative teams stay "on trend." Her observations provide insight and perspective to quantitative and qualitative data from the Hallmark Research Department.
Understanding the consumer is essential and the first step in creating innovative products, according to Hallmark.
2007 and Beyond
We have reached a tipping point and people are ready for a change. Old paradigms and pat answers to complex issues just aren't working. Something's got to give. Watch as established models are rethought and revisited. Accepted approaches to economics, politics, governance, business and leisure will give way to new and unexpected solutions. Major course changes will occur in both public and personal realms, opening the door to the future.
THE POWER OF ONE... strengthening
Though culture and technology will continue to shape "group think," people will recognize that some achievements happen only through the critical thinking, deep analysis, inspiration, innovation, or genius of one person. Whether it is a breakthrough idea, a creative piece, or a scientific discovery, all originate in the imagination of one individual. People in increasing numbers will move from spectator to originator and demonstrate the "power of one." Individuals, stirred to conscious action through awareness of what could be made actionable, will set change in motion. People will take responsibility to better their neighborhoods and communities. Expect grassroots volunteerism and philanthropic activity to begin locally and expand to national and international levels - going beyond blog into action. Individuals will begin to take accountability for their small piece of the world.
THE RED (GREEN) HOT ISSUE
Sustainability now is accepted as THE critical issue it is. Climate and biological shifts have accelerated. When we singled out sustainability in 2003, it didn't attract much interest. The facts are forcing leaders into action - locally, nationally, and internationally. The question will be: Can the destructive changes that have been set into motion in the earth's natural rhythms be remedied? Will disaster be averted, and balance restored?
Design direction reflects sustainability
As our ecological awareness grows, design sensibilities will be altered subtly yet steadily and move toward an aesthetic of the feminine. Shapes become rounder, less angular, and sensuous contours reminiscent of the earth's natural forms become pleasing and are more popular. Look for this softer influence in the arts, automotive design, fashion and home furnishings.
Moving beyond the idea of limited editions and exclusivity, the entire concept of luxury is being revisited and redefined. Conscience will guide in purchase and participation decisions, and will make a difference in what is seen, chosen, or experienced by elite consumers. "Conscious consuming" will integrate "buying the right thing," and "doing the right thing" - creating almost an intersection of luxury and sustainability.
BEYOND ADVERTISING - INTANGIBLES
Marketers and corporations will begin to see that the emotion, excitement and context surrounding a brand matters even more than advertising. The encounter with a brand - in its broadest sense, whether experientially or subliminally - will play a significant role in attracting and keeping consumers. Creating desire for a brand's products, services, and most importantly - the intangibles associated with it - will build in importance.
THE GENUINE ARTICLE
The authentic anything will become increasingly difficult to find. Whether a person, experience, an organization, or a brand - encountering the real deal will be a rarity. As a result, when uniqueness, reliability and trustworthiness appear together, simultaneously in one place, something irresistible will happen.
MADE TO MEASURE
People have gone beyond the desire for the unique to wanting "made specifically for me." Whether it's the exquisite bespoke suit, the perfect design-built great room, or an amazing vacation experience at an Italian villa, each element of consumers' lives will be personalized precisely for them. Look for people to expect greater levels of tailoring, control, and service in everything (retail, housing, travel, banking, politics, religion - the list is endless.)
MEETING IN THE MIDDLE
Middle Market... A Must For the last six years, we've talked about the designer/luxury market and the discount market. It's been a high-end vs. low-end retail world, with not much in between. The middle market has disappeared. People want to see a change in all of that. The markets are ripe and ready for classic, mid-price, mid-range goods that last more than a season, but won't break the bank. People will compete for quality, good value, and variety at reasonable prices. Watch as businesses and corporations clamor to satisfy consumer demands.
Fueled by open source software, enhanced by companies like Google and Wikipedia, and celebrated by the YouTube phenomenon, any one of us can offer an opinion, share a personal video or a piece of music, and comment on or contribute information to the broader collective. This totally transparent digital environment will change people's perspective on "privacy" as technology becomes more accessible across the globe. The question will become, who's watching you watch them?
Due to the immediacy that technology and the electronic media foster, the commentary culture will accelerate. Regardless of what happens globally, nationally, or locally; whether in economics, politics, pop culture or religion; it's a caught-on-tape mentality. Everyone is weighing in with running commentary and critique. Readers, listeners, and viewers will become increasingly uncomfortable in their passive roles, and in huge numbers will join bloggers as they spew forth incessant "opinionation." Once something's been "broadcast" on the wire or web, it's OK - no, our duty - to weigh in, pass judgment, or make fun of what's occurred.
The culture will continue to coarsen. From manners to mores, from courtesy to common decency, refined behaviors will continue to slip. The media and technology will contribute, as advertisements, TV shows and web sites feature content which less than a decade ago would have been prohibitive for general audiences. What we encounter in public - movies, programming, newspapers, conversation, daily life - will push the boundaries of appropriateness. The cultural commons become more "common."
FAME TRUMPS SHAME
The world is increasingly desensitized. Real life pales in comparison to the internet, video games and reality TV. We expect reality to be as dramatic and engaging, and daily life cannot compete. We believe we need to know - about everything. There's always a bit of disappointment when no one is shamed or maimed. Fame trumps shame.
GET A(NOTHER) LIFE
Pop culture, hype, technology, and dissatisfaction with life's perceived "imperfections" converge to push people toward alternative realities. Fascination with celebrity culture, plastic surgery, mood altering pharmaceuticals, and curiosity about "who I really can be" play out in technologically empowered worlds. Avatars rule, potential is unleashed and dreams come true without human connection. As long as the program is running.
Countertrend: FACE TO FACE
Scientific evidence is growing to reveal that human contact, shared emotion and positive experience contribute even more than previously recognized to human well-being. Communal since our beginnings, connecting and communicating will be reinforced as the "social glue" that holds us together - both as individuals and groups.
SYSTEMS THAT SIMPLIFY
Expect more simplification in the use of technology. In an effort to meet a new and growing need created by the universal electronic culture, an innovative system will be developed. Accessing and changing PIN numbers and passwords will be made easy and secure. As a result of the proliferation of phone numbers - work, home, land line, digital, cell, pager, car, assistant, etc. - there will be a movement toward total integration - the use of one ID number only. This move toward one identifier will be considered a positive step in the ecology of communication.