Although the need for status is at the heart of every consumer trend, in mature consumer societies (such as the US), consumers are moving beyond owning the most and/or priciest items. Status is now also tied to less tangible symbols such as acquired skills, eco-credentials, connectivity and generosity.
trendwatching.com offers the following seven pointers on the evolution of status:
1. ‘Luxury lust’ is here to stay. Traditional consumption is about buying (and enjoying and showing off) more and/or better items than fellow consumers, and it will always be with us. The recession will not eliminate luxury lust, especially as emerging middle classes in less mature consumer societies such as Russia, Brazil and India pursue mass consumption.
2. Consumers desire individuality. Owning or experiencing something no one else has is the ultimate status fix. Even when consumers purchase mass-produced items such as iPads, they customize them and use them to create unique experiences.
3. Generosity is growing. Generosity is becoming a leading societal and business mindset. Consumers are using the internet to collaboratively perform altruistic acts and then publicize them to achieve status.
4. Eco-iconic. The growing “eco-iconic” trend is an increasing preference for products that are not just economically sound, but demonstrate their soundness through their appearance or reputation, creating instant status.
5. Being in the know. Consumers want to be “in the know,” to have deep and trivial knowledge they can share with less knowledgeable colleagues to gain status. Mobile applications that provide locations and other information serve this growing status need.
6. Participation is the new consumption. Especially for younger (and younger-at-heart) consumers, participation is the new consumption. Thus they seek brands which will help them develop skills that will lead to professional-grade output, which in return will bring them an appreciative audience.
7. Connectivity. When it comes to online status, it’s all about who you connect to, and who connects to you, tribal style. It still is about being unique, but is about belonging, too: belonging to tribes whose membership renders status to its members. Unlike in the ‘offline world,’ these connections (in numbers and in profiles) are visible: friends and acquaintances are no longer the subject of awkward name-dropping, but are visible to all. Consumers have a need to ‘feed,’ maintain, and improve their online profile, if not overall online presence, with a steady stream of content: thoughts, photos, videos, songs, opinions, stories, and online-only “possessions” earned and owned in virtual worlds.
Time-starved Consumers Seek ‘Brand Butlers’
The convergence of consumers with limited time and the ease of providing mobile online services is creating a new class of service-oriented “brand butlers,”according to other recent analysis from trendwatching.com.
trendwatching.com defines brand butlers as brands that focus on assisting consumers to make the most of their lives, as opposed to the traditional branding model of selling consumers a lifestyle or identity.
Although trendwatching.com identifies the growing sophistication of mobile online services as crucial to the development of brand butlers, the company advises that offline services such as permanent or pop-up branded spaces and lounges tied to a specific event (music festival) or location (airport) can qualify as brand butlers. trendwatching.com also advises that brand butlers go above and beyond top-quality products and services, so providing excellent customer service is not enough on its own to become a brand butler.