JWT releases annual report on the top 10 trends that will shape 2012

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Last updated : December 08, 2011
Conducted by JWT Intelligence, the report, called JWT's Top 10 trends for 2012, predicts continued economic uncertainty, new technology, and the idea of shared responsibility as the three main causes driving the trends.

For the past six years, JWT has been releasing an annual report that talks about the top 10 trends that will drive the business in the next year. Conducted by JWT Intelligence, this year, too, the agency has released its trends forecast for the coming year. The three factors driving the trends are continued economic uncertainty, new technology, and the idea of shared responsibility.

The seventh annual year-end trends forecast is the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted by JWT Intelligence throughout the year. For this report, the research department conducted quantitative surveys in the US and the UK using SONAR (JWT's proprietary online tool). The agency surveyed 1,055 adults aged 18+ years (531 Americans and 524 Britons) from October 31 to November 8, 2011, wherein the data was weighed by age, gender and income.

Next, for its trend on 'The Rise of Shared Value', it used data from a survey that the agency had conducted in the US, the UK and Canada from June 28 to July 6, 2011, in which it polled 908 adults.

Additionally, it received inputs from nearly 70 JWT planners across markets, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, the UK, USA, and Venezuela, apart from interviews with experts and influencers across sectors including technology, luxury, social responsibility, and academia.

1. The new normal: According to the report, one of the first trends that 2012 will witness will be about 'Navigating the new normal' where, with the new normal becoming 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. The report cited the example of how Heinz, in the US, has introduced several reduced sizes at a suggested retail price of 99 cents, including a 10-ounce ketchup pouch, and a 9-ounce yellow mustard pack, as well as mini Worcestershire and Heinz 57 sauces.

2. Live a little: As per the second trend, consumers, 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, will look for ways to live a little without giving up a lot. People have been exercising more self-control, and are increasingly looking to let loose once in a while, indulging in sinful things, splurging on treats, and escaping from today's many worries. It cited the example of how whiskey (in South Africa), premium beer (in the UK), and cheap éclairs (in India) are small indulgences that consumers with little to spend are enjoying.

3. Generation go: The third trend highlights the fact that while the '20 somethings' in the developed world feel that 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.

4. The rise of shared value: The fourth trend talks about how some corporations are beginning 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 to generate profit and achieve social progress are not mutually exclusive goals. The report cited the example of how Philips partnered 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 fifth trend highlights that environmental impact of food choices will become a more prominent concern as stakeholders -- brands, governments and activist organisations -- 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."

6. Marriage optional: The sixth trend stresses that 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 single, cohabiting, or single-motherhood.

7. Re-engineering randomness: The seventh trend plays up the point that as individual worlds become more personalised and niche, and the types of content and experiences people are exposed to become narrower -- greater emphasis will be placed on reintroducing randomness, discovery, inspiration, and different points of view into our worlds.

8. Screened interactions: The eighth point talks about more flat surfaces turning into screens, and more screens becoming interactive. Increasingly, people will touch them, gesture at them and talk to them -- and become accustomed to doing so as part of their everyday behaviour. This will open up opportunities to inform, engage, and motivate consumers.

The report in the example stated that 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, and then browse the store's catalogue while eating.

9. Celebrating ageing: This is about how popular perceptions of ageing are changing, with people of all ages taking a more positive view of growing older. And, demographic and culture changes, along with medical advances, will help in shifting attitudes.

10. Objectifying objects: The last point talks about objects being replaced by digital/virtual counterparts, and growing fetishes for the physical and the tactile. As a result, 2012 will be about more 'motivational objects,' items that accompany digital property to increase perceived value, and digital tools that enable creation of physical things.

For example, Sincerely's Postagram application 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 hearts, put up on the fridge, or display at work.

First Published : December 08, 2011
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