SocNets, Kindness among Crucial Consumer Trends

August 12, 2011

The growing impact of social network fans and consumer receptiveness to acts of kindness by brands are among the major consumer trends tracked by trendwatching.com this year. Following are brief recaps of three of the most important consumer marketing developments trendwatching.com advises marketers to keep track of this year.

‘F’ is for F-Factor

Consumers are tapping into their networks of friends, fans, and followers to discover, discuss and purchase goods and services in ever-more sophisticated ways. As a result, trendwatching.com advises it’s never been more important for brands to make sure they too have what it calls the “F-Factor,” with “F” standing for friends, fans and followers.

trendwatching.com identifies five key ways the F-Factor influences consumer behavior:

1. F-Discovery: How consumers discover new products and services by relying on their social networks.
2. F-Rated: How consumers will increasingly (and automatically) receive targeted ratings, recommendations and reviews from their social networks.
3. F-Feedback: New ways in which consumers can ask their friends and followers to improve and validate their buying decisions.
4. F-Together: How shopping is becoming increasingly social, even when consumers and their peers are not physically together.
5. F-Me: How consumers’ social networks are literally being turned into products and services.

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

For consumers long used to (and annoyed by) distant, inflexible and self-serving corporations, trendwatching.com says any acts of kindness (R.A.K.) by brands will be gratefully received. For brands, increasingly open communications both with and between consumers (especially online), means that it’s never been easier to surprise and delight audiences with R.A.K.: whether sending gifts, responding to publicly expressed moods or just showing that they care.

trendwatching.com identifies three key components of R.A.K.:
1. Human Touch: Consumers increasingly want to see the human side of brands (or if indeed a brand has a human side at all), making R.A.K. more welcome than ever.
2. Putting It Out There: Audiences are publicly disclosing more and more personal information on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, about their lives, moods and whereabouts, both current and intended, enabling R.A.K. to be more relevant.
3. Pass It On: More consumers than ever are now sharing their experiences with their friends and wider audiences on social networks, meaning R.A.K. can spread far beyond the original recipients.

The Rise of ‘Citysumers’

As rapid urbanization is one of the biggest macro trends of our time, trendwatching.com advises brands can’t go wrong innovating for existing and developing “Citysumers,” the name it gives to the hundreds of millions of experienced and sophisticated urbanites.

trendwatching.com identifies three key factors driving the Citysumers trend:

1. Urban Boom: Close to 180,000 people move into cities daily, adding roughly 60 million new urban dwellers each year. And, while ‘traditional’ global powerhouses such as New York, London and Paris are already sharing the stage with Beijing, Mumbai and Istanbul, increasingly cities such as Belem, Chongqing and Guadalajara are ready to make their mark.
2. Urban Might: Rich in networks and opportunities, cities act as magnets, sucking in talent and spewing out innovation. The result? Increased wealth and power of cities and those who live in them.
3. Urbane: Urban culture and values now dominate. Citsysumers are addicted to the here-and-now, experiences, choice and freedom, flexibility and rawness, unrestricted opportunity, and hunt for the “Next Big Thing” if not the “Next Big Story.”

All of which make consumers even more demanding and more open-minded, but also more proud, more connected, more spontaneous and more try-out-prone: Citysumers will eagerly snap up a whole host of new urban goods, services, experiences, campaigns and conversations.

Look for ‘Twinsumers’ and ‘Social-lites’

Both of these types of online consumers were identified by trendwatching.com in December 2010 as critical to spreading positive word-of-mouth recommendations. Twin-sumers are consumers with similar consumer patterns, likes and dislikes, and who are hence valuable sources for recommendations on what to buy and experience; while social-lites are consumers who consistently broadcast information to a wide range of associates online.

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