"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
January 16, 2007

Trends For 2007

Trendwatching, which happens to be a must-read blog/think-tank, has a list of the five most important consumer trends for 2007. As they put it, these trends, “…deal with status, transparency and consumer power, the online revolution, more adventurous consumption, and a shift from consumption to participation. Enough to keep you busy!” First off, there are […]

Trendwatching, which happens to be a must-read blog/think-tank, has a list of the five most important consumer trends for 2007. As they put it, these trends,

“…deal with status, transparency and consumer power, the online revolution, more adventurous consumption, and a shift from consumption to participation. Enough to keep you busy!”

First off, there are Status Lifestlyes, which despite the name are not primarly about the display of wealth (though they may require wealth), but rather about about the display of commitment to an ethic, sense of responsibility, or socialability. This is an important point to consider because many counter-cultural critics of consumerism, especially within the church are still locked into deriding the tapering end of consumerism that was driven by mass production/consumption as the twentieth-century shifted from economies of scarcity to economies of abundance (late modernity).

“…expect 2007 to be the year in which many brands realize (if not grudgingly accept) that the ‚Äòold‚Äô, mass-era status symbols, from the Audi Q7 to the De Beers Radiance collection, are no longer every consumers‚Äô wet dream. After all, as mature consumer societies are increasingly dominated by (physical) abundance, by saturation, by experiences, by virtual worlds, by individualism, by participation, by feelings of guilt and concern about the side-effects of unbridled consumption, status is to be had in many more ways than leading a somewhat dated lifestyle centered on hoarding as many branded, luxury goods as possible.”

These lifestyles include Transient Lifestyles, Participative Lifestyles (including the shift from Status Symbols to Status Skills), Connecting/Online Lifestyles and Eco-Lifestyles.

The second big trend is the Transperancy Tryanny. With the advent of online communties, YouTube and so on, every aspect of the perfomance of brands, groups and institutions is subject to an unending level of scrutiny and transperancy. This radically foreshortens the time between the launch of brands and products and the publication of information about the consumer experiences with them.

But this torrent of information needs to be filtered, which is where profiles come in and in particular, the matching of profiles to products (profile mania). A lot remains to be seen on how this breeds or does not breed consumer collaboration and maybe even the rise of a new class of professional consumer/reviewers.

Third, we have the advent of Web N+1s. The evolution to and beyond Web 2.0 is going to be quick and 2007 will probably be a good year for futurists and technology speculators. Trendwatching also recomends adding Kevin Kelly to your reading (or re-reading) and I agree. The issue here isn’t really about the next big thing, but rather the big long-term thing.

Fourth, 2007 will be the year of the Trysumers, which despite the awful name, strikes me as an important insight into consumer behaviour in the post-mass-market age.

“TRYSUMERS: ‚ÄúFreed from the shackles of convention and scarcity, immune to most advertising, and enjoying full access to information, reviews, and navigation, experienced consumers are trying out new appliances, new services, new flavors, new authors, new destinations, new artists, new relationships, new *anything* with post mass-market gusto.‚Äù”

What marks out trysumers is not just their willingness to express non-convential aesthetics and tastes, but also their coping strategies for dealing with brand and product disapointment (transumerism). Cheap airfares make it easier to take a risk on holiday destinations, since the price of a bad choice is not so catastrophic. EBay makes it easier to offload poor purchases, since there is often a potential market (and residual value) to even the most obscure products. Online resources make it easier to research products, services and destinations and also easier to access real reviews and critiques. The Long Tail means a string of unique and unusal products and services out there to try. Add to this, that the quality of many cheap products today far exceeds the quality in the lower end of the market 20-30 years ago, which makes it easier to try out new trends and technologies.

I’ve seen this personally as I’ve closely tracked the trends in the music technology business over the last decade. People are not only paying more for musical instruments (as Trendwatching points out), but also more willing to try new brands and products, often sight unseen. This growing a massive new Long Tail industry in boutique manufacture.

All this leads in one very, very important direction. Consumers are becoming bolder in their purchases, less risk averse and more willing to experiment and even to fail. This is a powerful change and radically subverts the “drive to sameness” at the heart of the mass-market paradigm.

Finally, we have the Global Brain, which in my view is another way of talking about the Creative Class.

“We‚Äôve spoken about THE GLOBAL BRAIN before: all of the world‚Äôs intelligence and experience, fully networked, incorporating not only the usual suspects like gurus, professors and scientists, but the experiences and skills of hundreds of millions of smart consumers as well. With the ‘shortage of talent’ that every brand on every continent seems to fear in 2007, tapping into THE GLOBAL BRAIN seems a, well, no-brainer. This year, expect many corporations, small and big, to aggressively court the 1% of most creative and experienced individuals roaming the globe.”

[tags] Creative Class, Trysumers [/tags]

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