Innovation in developing new goods, services and experiences for and with customers is key to marketing success in the B2C channel, according to consumer trends firm trendwatching.com. Calling this trend “innovation extravaganza,” trendwatching.com advises marketers to practice innovation in a number of key trend areas.

MarketingCharts offers a condensed look at trendwatching.com’s recommendations, highlighting several of the most important trend areas.

Happiness

Mobile apps are increasingly concerned not only with consumers’ physical health but also their emotional wellbeing. For example, launched in March 2011, The Happy Apps aim to override stress-creating cues with their mood-enhancing suite of iPhone and iPad apps, priced USD $1.99 for six apps.

In addition, Moodagent automatically analyzes and profiles a user’s music collection, and then creates playlists of their favorite tracks to suit their mood, distinguishing songs by sensuality, tenderness, joy, aggressiveness and tempo.

Cash-Less

The long predicted cashless economy is slowly becoming reality in both mature and developing markets. In more mature economies, consumers”desire for convenience coupled with technological advances continues to drive innovations in cashless transactions. In January 2011, Starbucks launched its Mobile Card payment program across the US. Customers purchase the Starbucks Card Mobile app, which then creates a personalized 2-D barcode to be scanned at the counter.

And introduced in May 2011, Google Wallet is an Android app that turns a users’ phone into a payment device. Using NFC technology, users can pay by tapping their phone on Mastercard paypass terminals. As well as being able to make payments, users can also receive offers and store loyalty points via the app.

Now-or-Never Commerce

The advent of flash sale group buying sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, as well as the continued popularity of pop-up stores, is a reminder that consumers still love quick spontaneous purchases too, especially when there’s a bargain to be had. To that end, launched by Swedish retailer Papercut, Speedsale offers discounts on a variety of books, DVDs and the like, but only for four seconds. After viewing the item for four seconds online, the sale is over. Forever.

Professional

Settling for the mediocre or homemade just won’t do for today’s expectant consumers. Affordable, accessible products and tools are increasingly allowing regular people to create professional quality content and products. These include New Zealand-based WilliamsWarn produced the world’s first personal brewery in 2011. Easy to operate, even novice users can create their favorite beers as the machine automatically takes care of some of the most critical manufacturing processes.

In addition, Collabracam allows users to shoot video footage like a pro. By connecting up to four iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads, the director is able to view all the cameras’ streams, prepare shots and switch between footage at any given time.

Choice Cuts

The amount of information out there, and consumers’ desire to devour the best bits of it, is still unrelenting. Hence, anything that helps present, edit, display, strip, filter, bundle and curate the (commercial) data flows easily into something digestible and relevant will do well forever. Examples of this type of extreme curation include Hotel Haiku, a travel website that lists hotels around the world, in an ultra-simple fashion. Information about a featured hotel is comprised of a single image, a short description and a link.

And UK-based Just Buy This One is a service that takes the cumulative ratings of product reviews and offers a single recommendation. It works across nine categories, from cameras to kettles.

Nice Brands Don’t Finish Last

In March 2011, trendwatching.com advised brands to build consumer loyalty through kindness. While common wisdom says that “nice guys finish last,” this is not necessarily true in the branding arena. In particular, trendwatching.com says “random acts of kindness,” rather than distributing free samples or providing specific rewards for actions such as posting a positive social network review, can pay big dividends for brand marketers.

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