The world according to JWT, in 2012

07 Dec,2011


By A Correspondent


Ad hotshop JWT feels that in 2012, the economy will push brands into opening up more entry points for cost-sensitive consumers as the “new normal” becomes a prolonged normal in the developed world while at the same time, tough times will generate an unprecedented entrepreneurialism, with the so-called Lost Generation of youth becoming a uniquely resourceful group that creates their own opportunity. The above findings and plenty more, are the result of their annual forecasting exercise – the seventh in the series – of key trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mindset and behaviour in the year 2012.


JWT’s ’10 Trends for 2012′ is the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted throughout the year for the report. It includes inputs from nearly 70 JWT planners across more than two dozen markets and interviews with experts and influencers across sectors including technology, luxury, social responsibility and academia.


“With our annual trends forecast, we aim to bring the outside in-to help inspire ideas beyond brand, category and consumer conventions-and to identify emerging opportunities so they can be leveraged for business gain,” remarked Ann Mack, director of trendspotting for JWT. “Trends, like any complex and dynamic human phenomenon, are not preordained-once they are spotted, they can be shaped.”


Previous trends that have been forecasted over the past years include: “De-Teching” in 2011 (more people logging off, at least temporarily, to get a break from technology); “Location-Based Everything” in 2010 (the explosion of location-based or -aware services that leverage data from mobile phones); The Small Movement” in 2009 (the shift away from “bigger is better” in everything from homes to cars to mobile technology); and “Radical Transparency” in 2008 (the “nothing to hide” ethos seen in some online behaviours).


The top 10 trends that have been predicted for 2012 are as follows:


1. Navigating the New Normal

As the new normal becomes a prolonged normal in the hampered developed world, more brands in more categories will open up entry points for extremely cost-sensitive consumers. Marketers will find new opportunities in creating stripped-down offerings, smaller sizes and otherwise more accessible products and services.


Example: In the US, Heinz is introducing several reduced sizes at a suggested retail price of 99 cents, including a 10-ounce ketchup pouch and a 9-ounce yellow mustard, as well as mini Worcestershire and Heinz 57 sauces.


2. Live a Little

Faced with constant reminders about what to do (exercise more, eat better) and what not to do (smoke, overspend), and fatigued from several years of austerity, consumers will look for ways to live a little without giving up a lot. People have been exercising more self-control, and increasingly they are looking to let loose once in a while: indulging in sinful things, splurging on treats and escaping from today’s many worries.


Example: Whiskey in South Africa, premium beer in the U.K and cheap eclairs in India are small indulgences that consumers with little to spend are enjoying.


3. Generation Go

While twenty-somethings in the developed world feel they’ve been dealt an unfair deck, many are finding opportunity in economic adversity. Out of continued joblessness or discontent with the status quo will spring an unprecedented entrepreneurial mindset, enabled by technology that obliterates traditional barriers to entry. A so-called Lost Generation will transform itself into a uniquely resourceful cohort.


Example: More than half of Millenials in the US agreed that if they lose or have trouble finding a job, they’ll start their own business, according to a JWT survey, up from 25 percent in 2009.


4. The Rise of Shared Value

Rather than simply doling out checks to good causes, some corporations are starting to shift their business models, integrating social issues into their core strategies. The aim is to create shared value, a concept that reflects the growing belief that generating a profit and achieving social progress are not mutually exclusive goals.


Example: Philips is partnering with the Dutch government in a bid to provide affordable, sustainable energy solutions to some 10 million people across 10 sub-Saharan African nations by 2015.


5. Food as the New Eco-Issue

The environmental impact of our food choices will become a more prominent concern as stakeholders-brands, governments and activist organizations-drive awareness around the issue and rethink what food is sold and how it’s made. As more regions battle with food shortages and/or spiking costs, smarter practices around food will join the stable of green “best practices”.


Example: U.K. supermarket Sainsbury’s featured a summer promotion in 2011 offering customers who asked for cod, haddock, salmon, tuna and prawns an alternative, more sustainable species such as herring or mackerel for free.


6. Marriage Optional

A growing cohort of women is taking an alternate life route, one that doesn’t include marriage as an essential checkpoint. Both in the West, where this trend is building, and in the East, where it’s gaining momentum, “happily ever after” is being redefined as a household of one, cohabiting or single motherhood.


Example: In 2010, a third of Japanese women entering their 30s were single, while 37 percent of all Taiwanese women 30-34 were single.


7. Reengineering Randomness

As our individual worlds become more personalized and niche-and the types of content, experiences and people we are exposed to become narrower-greater emphasis will be placed on reintroducing randomness, discovery, inspiration and different points of view into our worlds.


Example: Airtime, due to launch at the end of 2011, is being touted as a random real-time video chat platform where strangers will be “smashed together”.


8. Screened Interactions

More flat surfaces are becoming screens, and more screens are becoming interactive. Increasingly, we’ll be touching them, gesturing at them and talking to them – and becoming accustomed to doing so as part of our everyday behaviours. This is opening up novel opportunities to inform, engage and motivate consumers.


Example: In New York, a restaurant at high-end department store Barney’s features 30 individual screens in a large communal table that’s covered in glass; diners can digitally order their meal, then browse the store’s catalogue while eating.


9. Celebrating Ageing

Popular perceptions of ageing are changing, with people of all ages taking a more positive view of growing older. And as demographic and cultural changes, along with medical advances, help to shift attitudes, we’ll redefine when “old age” occurs and what the term means.


Example: To appeal to Gen Xers and Boomers, Polish beer brand Zywiec launched a campaign with the tagline “The best is ahead of you”. Commercials showed older male celebrities including actors, a boxer and a cartoonist, speaking about their lives, offering insights and advice.


10. Objectifying Objects

As objects get replaced by digital/virtual counterparts, people are fetishiZing the physical and the tactile. As a result, we will see more “motivational objects”, items that accompany digital property to increase perceived value, and digital tools that enable creation of physical things.


Example: Sincerely’s Postagram app allows vacationers and others to turn snapshots into snail-mailed postcards. Similarly, Postcard on the Run reminds potential users that for recipients, a physical card is “a real keepsake they can hold close to their heart, put up on the fridge or display at work”.

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