Trendwatching’s 7 Trends To Run With in 2014

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No matter what market or industry you’re in, if you’re obsessed with catering to evolving consumer needs, desires and expectations, you will prosper through even the most insane global upheavals, whatever their flavor. In 2014, 2015, 2016 and beyond.

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However, as the start of a new year is the time when many of you are doing some extra imagining and planning and creating, we thought we’d do our bit and throw in a handful of consumer trends that are begging to be applied in the next 12 months. By you.

1. GUILT-FREE STATUS

Why in 2014, guilt-free is the new status symbol.

Growing numbers of consumers can no longer escape an awareness of the damage done by their consumption: to the planet, society, or themselves. But a mixture of indulgence, addiction and conditioning mean that most can’t substantially change their consumption habits. The result? A never-ending guilt spiral.

Which creates exciting opportunities for brands that combine tackling this guilt spiral with consumers’ endless status seeking (still the driving force behind all consumer behavior).

Indeed, GUILT-FREE STATUS will be the ultimate indulgence in 2014. Time to create products and services that deliver a guilt-free status fix by being one of these:

  • Known by all. Iconic, well known GUILT-FREE products such as the Tesla Model S will act as instantly recognizable signals of great sustainability.
  • Visibly guilt-free. High status, chic or fashionable products that are visibly sustainable, ethical or healthy will deliver a GUILT-FREE STATUS hit. Get inspired by Nudie’s rugs made from recycled jeans.
  • Storied. If a product or service isn’t known or visible, it will need a GUILT-FREE story that the owner can tell others (and impress them with).

Warning: this trend is NOT about GUILTWASHING. Benefits for people and planet are at the core of GUILT-FREE STATUS SYMBOLS, not marketing speak and one-dimensional plays on people’s anxieties.

The Tesla Model S sedan luxury electric vehicle began shipping to Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands in August 2013, with right hand drive models scheduled for March 2014. In September 2013 the Model S was the best-selling car in Norway, where electric car drivers can use bus lanes to skip past traffic jams. Prices for the Model S range start at USD 62,400.

A recent global study identified 2.5 billion ‘aspirational consumers’ (representing one third of the global consumer class). These consumers are defined by their love of shopping (78%), desire for responsible consumption (92%) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (58%).
(BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, October 2013)

2. CROWD SHAPED

The connected crowd comes of age in 2014.

In 2014, more people will pool their data, their profiles, their preferences, in groups (small and big) to shape new goods and services.

Via social media, histories, ecommerce, endless read/watch/play lists, smartphone GPS services and more, connected consumers are creating vast profiles and data trails that relate to everything from their music preferences to their daily movements. No news there.

Now 2014 will see two certainties:

  1. The technologies that facilitate the creation and passive sharing of those data streams will become ever more ubiquitous (yes, we’ll say it, Google Glass).
  2. Consumer expectations are amplified – yet again – by that ubiquity.

Meaning the connected crowd comes of age, via CROWDSHAPING: new products and services shaped by the aggregated preferences or behavior of (small and big) groups of consumers, as expressed via their data.

Two kinds of CROWDSHAPING to watch (and run with):

  • SMALL CROWDSHAPING: Real-time shaping (and reshaping) of a service around the preferences of the people in an office, a restaurant, on a plane: any space right now. Consumers might not care about the tech that makes CROWDSHAPING possible, but they will care about increased relevance – via the accommodation of their own preferences – and a novel mode of discovery via the newly-experienced preferences of their peers. See how CheckinDJ (below) delivers both.
  • BIG CROWDSHAPING: Services intelligently reshaped by the aggregated data on the preferences or behavior of large numbers of consumers. One next step for good, old-fashioned crowdsourcing. Consumers get a more functional, efficient service shaped not by opinions of the crowd, but around the way people really behave. And – unlike with many existing crowdsourced solutions – they get it effortlessly, via passive sharing of their data. That’s what IBM promised when it CROWDSHAPED bus route improvements in Africa (below).

OK, we know: privacy! But keep collection and use of data transparent, and many will embrace the benefits*.

Alternatively, dive into the NO DATA counter-trend, also begging to be applied in 2014.

CheckinDJ is a crowdsourced jukebox that arranges a venue’s music playlist to match the overall taste of its current patrons. Users register online or via an app, and enter their favorite music genres. Once at a participating venue, they use an NFC-enabled device to check-in. The playlist at the venue automatically adjusts to reflect their taste. Individuals can earn influence points by syncing the app with their social networks, and by checking in with groups of friends. The platform was developed by UK-based Mobile Radicals.

57% of consumers are willing to share additional personal information, such as their location, top five Facebook friends’ names and information about family members, in return for financial rewards or better service. (Coleman Parkes, April 2013)

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This post was written by who has written 472 posts on Deborah Shane Toolbox.

Top 100 Small Business Champion and Podcast, Top 20 Small Biz Women to Follow on Twitter. Deborah Shane is a Career Transition Author, professional branding consultant, content marketer and social media strategist, writer and speaker. She hosts a popular blog and a small business radio podcast with 340K+ downloads. Deborah’s articles are featured on SmallBizTrends.com, Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, Careerealism and Business Insider. Deborah is a go-to resource for local and national media including CNN, Fox, CBS and NBC. Engage with her @DeborahShane, and visit her at DeborahShaneToolBox.com.

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