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Journey to the centre of the consumer zeitgeist

Journey to the centre of the consumer zeitgeist

On Wednesday I attended a trendwatching.com seminar in Sydney. The global trend insights firm relies on a network of hundreds of spotters around the world, people who alert the firm to innovative new products and services that are analysed to understand the consumer trends driving them. These trends are then divided into relevant categories (mega and sub trends) and the result is a rich database of ideas and insights that anyone can use to better understand consumers and to develop new ideas for products, services and campaigns.

The sold out, half-day seminar was presented by Henry Mason, global head of research and managing partner, along with Tara Hirebet, head of Asia Pacific.

In a few hours we covered an enormous amount, from industry specific to Asia specific trends, and all of it was fascinating. Here were three of my favourites, and I reckon these apply to just about everyone. 

1.   Status smarts

Conspicuous consumption is evolving and status represents very different things to different consumer groups. For some people consuming less is status and for those with more than one Ferrari in the garage, they desire gritty real world experiences they can talk about. As Galliano famously said, ‘"One desire that is getting stronger than all other demands remains the desire to be unique."Politicaltours.com is a travel company offering people the chance to experience firsthand current affairs. Tourists can travel to countries such as Afghanistan and Lybia with experts including journalists.

2.   Brand Me

In addition to the proliferation of online content linked to our identities, the traditional manufacturing, trade and retail models are dissolving. Consumers can, and will, assume the roles of developers, investors, sellers and buyers, which, as Mason suggests, shows “consumers are as focused on their personal brand as they are on yours”. Arnet Reputación online is an Argentinean Facebook application that posts fake messages aligned to the reputation you’re courting. For example, if you want to be known as an international playboy, you can fool your friends into thinking some saucy minx is missing you.

http://vimeo.com/43678804

3.  Point & know & buy

Mason says that far from being recession weary, “consumers can and will get excited about new products and ideas”. ‘Infolust’ is still trending, and the new frontier is visual searching. The expectation with visual search is that information now comes with instant gratification. See it, buy it. Adidas originals iphone app uses photo recognition software that allows users to scan any kicks (sneakers) they like and the app will trace the closest match available for purchase, linking street style back to stores.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xj_etxAIHM

After the event I went to the launch of Harley Davidson’s new seventy-two model, a '70’s styled sportster that rewinds to the chopper era. There’s innovation at Harley in abundance, but it’s what hasn’t changed that really makes the brand what it is. For me the beauty of Trendwatching and the insights it provides is that this is not about what’s ‘hot’, and it’s not about fads. It’s actually about uncovering consumer truth and that might be the most powerful insight that leads you toward change—or not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhWBQEdF6h0

  • Fleur Postill is general manager of Haystac. 

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