8 Consumer Trends 2008

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    Another year has almost passed. Over the last 11 months, wehave highlighted trends like (STILL) MADE HERE, FEMALE FE-VER, TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY, TRYSUMERS and more. Nodoubt 2008 will be as trend-heavy; to get you going, here areeight trends to watch and capitalize on in the new year . Oh,and may we be among the rst to wish you an innovative, pros-perous, trendy 2008!

    Want to get your hands on all the trends that are on our radar for 2008? Then please check out our 2008 Trend Report: www.trendwatching.com/trendreport

    Let's start this December Trend Brieng by looking back. At thebeginning of 2007, as part of our STATUS LIFESTYLES trend , wewrote:

    "Here's something trend watchers, CMOs and other business professionals should be able to agree on: in the end, when dealing with (and selling to) people, everything always comes back to status. In a traditional consumer society, he or she who consumes the most, the best, the coolest, the most ex- pensive, the scarcest or the most popular goods, will typi- cally also gain the most status."

    Now, you guessed it: the above will still ring true in 2008, andshould be on your mind whenever/wherever in the new yearwhen tracking trends, when mapping out new strategies and whencoming up with new products and services for your customers. Infact, expect 2008 to be the year in which even more brands real-

    ize (if not grudgingly accept) that 'old', mass-era status symbols,from the Audi R8 to the De Beers Talisman Watch Collection areno longer every consumer's wet dream. After all, as mature con-sumer societies are increasingly dominated by (physical) abun-dance, by saturation, by experiences, by virtual worlds, by indi-vidualism, by participation, by feelings of guilt and concern aboutthe side effects of unbridled consumption, status is to be had inmany more ways than leading a lifestyle centered on hoarding asmany branded, luxury goods as possible.

    We've dubbed the above phenomenon STATUS SPHERES: avariety of lifestyles, activities and persuasions, which can bemixed and matched by consumers looking for recognition fromvarious crowds and scenes. Getting too vague? Here are someSTATUS SPHERES to keep an eye out for in 2008:

    Traditional consumption is about buying more and/or better stuffthan fellow consumers. Which is by no means dead. In fact, ex-pect the consumer arena in 2008 to still be about hundreds ofmillions of consumers who do want to consume more, whocovet all things bling, who do crave in-your-face brands. Oh, and

    even if (a big if*) conspicuous consumption were ever to subsidein mature consumer societies, then count on the emerging middleclasses in China,** India, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Nigeria,Vietnam and Brazil to proudly take over the torch. In other words,count on multiple consumption and status arenas to develop si-multaneously for years to come.

    However, while the rise of the global middle class is as big a storyas they come, the rise of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) hasan equally signicant impact on consumerism. Consider the fol-

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    lowing numbers, from the 2007 World Wealth Report by MerrillLynch and Capgemini:

    The number of HNWIsindividuals with net assets of atleast USD 1 million, excluding their primary residenceand consumablesin the world increased 8.3% to 9.5million.

    The number of ultra-HNWIsindividuals with net assetsof at least USD 30 million, excluding their primary resi-dence and consumablesgrew by 11.3% to 94,970.

    The BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) con-tinue to play increasingly important roles in the globaleconomy. China and Russia were among the top tencountries with the fastest growing HNWI populations.China s HNWI population grew by 7.8% to 345,000 peo-ple and Russia s has increased by 15.5% to 119,000.Brazil (120,000 HNWIs) and India (100,000 HNWIs) alsoshowed continued strength.

    With so much (new) wealth and disposable income around theworld, not only is there money to be made from selling premium

    goods, there

    s also a constant need for redening what constitutesluxury, for what constitutes status in bling-driven consumer socie-ties. If millions have access to the same premium goods, to thesame premium brands, these premium offerings lose some of theirvalue, as their entire raison d tre was to offer something that oth-ers could not get access to. Scarcity is becoming less scarce andwealth is always relative, leading to actual STATUS DESPAIR among those who are by all means, nancially well off.

    So in an arena that has become crowded with middle class andhigh net worth consumers, expect luxury goods to take on moreoutlandish forms and shapes, at ever-higher costs. Our most re-cent favorite example of STATUS DESPAIR was Prince Alwaleedbin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia buying himself aUSD 320 million Airbus 380, which for another USD 100+ millionwill be turned into a 'ying palace' with three bedrooms, privatelounges, bathrooms, ofces, a steam bath and exercise machines.But even here, commoditization is threatening the Prince's pur-chase: Airbus actually expects to sell about 20 VIP versions of theA380.

    * As we ve pointed out many times before, one mistake both trend watchers and brands make all the time, is to assume or pretend that a certain trend will affect or be embraced by ALL consumers.No. Remember, in life and in trends: beauty (or ugliness) is in the

    eye of the beholder.

    ** The Chinese middle class consists of those people who have a degree of economic independence, but not a great deal of social inuence or power. The term often encompasses merchants and professionals, bureaucrats, and some farmers and skilled workers.Denition of middle class in China: managers, professionals,skilled technicians and service workers earning USD 2,500 to USD 10,000 a year each. It is expected to grow from 100 million people in 2005 to 200 million people by 2010, reaching 315 million by 2015. (Source: Insight Bureau.)

    Luckily, before we reach total STATUS DESPAIR, there's stillplenty of room for innovation in the traditional sphere: checkPREMIUMIZATION (trend # 2) below.

    Attractive to consumers who are driven by experiences instead of

    the xedthose who are driven by entertainment, by discovery,by ghting boredom, who increasingly live a transient lifestyle,freeing themselves from the hassles of permanent ownership andpossessions.

    We dubbed these consumers TRANSUMERS about a year ago,and the trend is still building. Implications for 2008? An obsessionwith the here and now, an ever-shorter satisfaction span, and alust to collect as many experiences and stories as possible ,undermining the perceived value (and thus status) of xed goodsand services. More practical examples in SNACK CULTURE(trend # 3) below.

    Where to begin? In an online world or virtual world, social status2.0 is all about who you connect to and who wants to connect toyou, tribal-style. It also encompasses status gained from the num-ber of views for one's photos on Flickr, to the number of friends onFacebook, to one's gaming skills and levels (just a snippet: Micro-soft's Halo 3 racked up USD 170 million in sales on its rst day ofavailability , making it the hottest-selling title in video game his-tory. Total sales since September 2007: 4+ million copies) to thegood looks of one's avatar, to nding out about whatever/whereveron anything before anyone else does. More on this in ONLINEOXYGEN (trend # 4) below.

    With the environment nally on the agenda of most powers thatbe, and millions of consumers now actively trying to greenify theirlives, status in the eco-sphere is both more readily available, andincreasing in value. A substantial subset of consumers is alreadybestowing recognition and pra ise on Prius dri vers while scorningSUV owners, and this will only accelerate as even more design-minded and branding-savvy eco-rms push to the forefront in2008. Make it green, make it effortless, make it visible if not bold ifnot iconic, and don't hesitate to point out your competitor's pollut-ing alternatives ;-) For more on this, see ECO-ICONIC (trend #5)below.

    Find us one high-prole billionaire who's not deeply into 'giving'right now. In fact, whether it's giving away your riches, your time,or sharing your (content) creations with total strangers, giving is

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    the new taking. For an excellent overview of the world's most gen-erous philanthropists (trendsetters par excellence!), check outBusinessWeek's recent special on the topic. For brand implica-tions, see BRAND BUTLERS (trend #6) below.

    Especially for younger (and younger-at-heart) consumers, partici-pation is the new consumption. For these creative beings, statuscomes from nding an appreciative audience, which is much thesame way brands operate. No wonder that it's becoming increas-ingly important to hone one's creative skills. Status symbols, makeway for STATUS SKILLS ? What's going to be your participationstrategy for 2008? See also trends #7 and 8 in this brieng: MYI |MAKE IT YOURSELF and CROWD MINING.

    One thing you can't go wrong with in 2008 is to ask yourself how

    your current and new products and experiences will satisfy anaudience of very diverse status seekers. If you haven't done soalready, get rid of the habit of only focusing on traditional statussymbols, and you will nd there is no end to the number ofSTATUS SPHERES you'll be able to identify.

    London's St. Pancras International railway station is now home to Europe's longest champagne bar (96 meters)

    Denitely part of the 'traditional sphere', PREMIUMIZATION is notgoing to go away in 2008. Basically, with more wealth burningholes in (saturated and experienced) consumers' pocketsthan ever before, quick status xes derived from premiumproducts and premium experiences will continue in full forcenext year.

    What's new then? How about 2008 being about the PREMIUMI-ZATION of everything and anything . In other words, no industry,no sector, no product will escape a premium version in the next 12months. Some poignant PREMIUMIZATION examples for thatsign of the times feeling:

    OK, so we've done wine, coffee and tea, which leaveswater to get its much-deserved PREMIUMIZATION mo-ment. And we don't mean of the Pellegrino or Perrierkind: those 'upgraded' bottled water brands have becometoo mainstream to excite truly premium-obsessed con-sumers (who don't care about carbon footprints, but we'llget back to that later on). So make way for Evian's limitedrelease Palace bottle, only available in high end bars andrestaurants. Features a specially designed pouring top

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    and is accompanied by a stainless steel coaster, sellingfor USD 15-20 per bottle.

    Bling H20 is bottled water that comes in limited edition,corked, 750 ml frosted glass bottles, embellishe d with Swarovski crystals. Established in 2005 by a Hollywoodwriter-producer who noticed that you could tell a lotabout a person by the bottled water that they carried,

    Bling H20 is designed to be as much a fashion accessoryas a drink of water. Aiming to be the Cristal of bottledwater, it's been spotted at everything from the MTVAwards to the Emmys. The bottles cost from USD 17480.

    Tasmanian Rain is captured "on the pristine north westcoast of the island of Tasmania, Australia." The water iscollected "just minutes from where the World Meteoro-logical Organization records the world's purest air." Asthis rain has traveled eastward via air currents over Ant-arctica and 10,000 miles of ocean, it contains 17 partsper million of dissolved solids. Tasmanian Rain is col-lected by a custom-designed catchment facility and never

    touches the ground. And so on.

    Carlsberg 900 (which doesn't have its own website)launched this summer in a very limited number of se-lected bars in Stockholm. Developed in collaboration with

    12 top Swedish bartenders, Carlsberg 900 is brewedfrom rened virgin hops and selected crystal malt, andtriple ltered with a longer cooler fermentation process toensure a pure, delicate taste. Carlsberg 900 is priced atthe premium end of the market, about the price of decentglass of champagne.

    Further proof that *anything* can be PREMIUMIZED:luxury marshmallows. From Dean & DeLuca 's 1-poundBoul Marshmallow Sampler of lemon chiffon, passionfruit, vanilla and rose-petal avors (USD 28) to Pete'sGourmet dipped and undipped marshmallows, which are1 USD a piece.

    Get ready to welcome honey to the world of PREMIUMI-ZATION. Most supermarket honey is imported fromChina and Argentina, and/or blended from many sources,creating a homogenous taste. But, like water, marshmal-lows, and beer, honey is now striking back with a sweetvengeance, and artisanal honeys are on the rise. Sincehoney's avor and color are determined by the source of

    nectar, there's a huge variety of very local and exclusivetypes of honey, with oral sources varying from tupelogum tree and Tasmanian leatherwood to cranberry andorange blossom. T he Sa vannah Bee Company , for eample, sells its honeycomb jars with this awe-inspiringdescription: "Filled with honey equaling the life's work oftwo be es, ea ch golden cell brims with the concentr atenectar of thousands of rare and remote Ge orgia owersIn New York, the Blue Ribbon Bakery Market has istall ed a hon ey bar, selling imported raw honey fromMexico. Seasonal (read: l imited time only) varieties in-clude mesquite blossom, orange blossom and goldenreserve. Also emphasizing the unique avors of different

    varieties, Bee Raw Honey sells sets of honey samples,packaging the liquid gold in test-tubes that are corkedand hand-sealed with beeswax.

    More PREMIUMIZATION of the sweet kind: chocolatesuccumbed to PREMIUMIZATION years ago, with artisanchocolate boutiques now c harging top dollar/euro/poundfor wasabi-infused bonbons from San Francisco to Sin-gapore. So what's next? A recent article in the FinancialTimes' How to Spend It supplement (which, togetherwith Monocle , is probably the best publication dedicate...