What does the end of the year bring? Holiday sales, sure. But also, a flurry of predictions and prognostications about the coming year. Market research firms tend to use the last quarter of any year as a time to look ahead, and that can give brand marketers useful insight into future market conditions.
One research report that caught our eye was "The New Era of Pause and Purchase," a study of consumer spending issued by American Express. The report includes the top five American consumer spending trends for 2011 (and beyond), offering an intriguing analysis that could have an impact on brand marketing strategies.
Those trends flagged by AmEx research are:
Urban consumers say they are beginning to think like their rural neighbors, demonstrating an interest in more local, home-grown and community focused interactions. They're shopping for more sustainable products that protect the environment. More than half of Americans say they try to support their local economy.
Purchasing has now become a way of giving. Consumers want to give back to charity, preserve the environment or help their communities, and they are increasingly expecting brands to be socially responsible. A whopping 83 percent of Americans want products, services and retailers to support worthy causes. (American Express embodies this through its Foundation outreach, and commitments such as its Members Project relief efforts in Sierra Leone, highlighted above).
3. Co-Created Own Brands (COBs)
These days, consumers wield a lot more power; they want to co-create brands and buy brand that are customized to their needs. Twenty-three percent of consumers are looking for products they can customize.
Consumption has turned into "commsumption" — now consumers are shopping as groups and consuming as communities, especially when it comes to recommending brands to peers and buying online. Brand marketers can take advantage of this by appealing to local consumers and reaching out through online social channels. Forty-one percent of American consumers say they buy more products online than they did a year ago.
5. Check In to Check Out (CiCo)
American consumers are going mobile. As a result, brand marketers are increasingly personalizing location-based offers, enticing shoppers to "check in" and take advantage of promotions on the go before they "check out." Consumers are also sharing deals and buying in groups more. Twenty-three percent of consumers say the availability of smartphones has an impact on their spending.
The complete report can be downloaded here (PDF).