How the Top 8 Consumer Trends Will Impact Your Business

Would you like to be able to look into a crystal ball to determine the consumer trends that will impact your business in the near future, so that you can be proactive, rather than be a victim of circumstances?

Here are the top eight consumer trends:

1. Do It Yourself – Consumers now need to constantly be in control.  An example of this desired control is a popular and extensive behavior known as “showrooming.”  Using their smartphones and an application supplied by Amazon or other online retailers, a consumer will enter a big box store and point their smartphones at the UPC codes on their desired products.  The application will then display at what prices those products could be bought online.  In many cases the Internet prices will be lower, since online retailers do not have the overhead of brick-and-mortar stores.

2. D-I-Y Health – Countless new applications and devices are actively targeting consumers keen on preventing, improving, monitoring and managing their health.  Increasingly consumers are diagnosing and treating their own medical conditions.  For those that do need medical attention and supervision, apps provide a much more convenient and accessible way for their doctor to keep a remote eye on any troublesome conditions or changes.  Research firm research2guidance predicts that mobile and wireless health care services will increase significantly to reach about 30 percent of an estimated 1.4 billion smartphone subscribers worldwide by 2015.  Further, Websites like PatientsLikeMe.com give consumers an online social network to discuss their health concerns and to seek the same remedies.

3. Phones Get Smart – Many of these consumer trends will be influenced by the new remote control for our lives.  According to an O2 study, the average smartphone owner now spends 128 minutes, or over 2 hours, looking at their phones each day. Global Internet usage will more than double by 2015, and most of these users will be mobile. Interestingly, on average, it takes 90 minutes to respond to an email, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message

4. Let’s Make a Deal – Consumers have been conditioned to now expect deals for anything and everything.  “Ten years ago,” says Mark Ellwood, author of Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World, “Retailers sold 15% to 20% of their merchandise at a discount. Now 40% to 45% is sold at a discount.”  And consumers’ attitude towards discounts and deals is what’s changing.  It’s more than just saving money, it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control and the perceived smartness.   “The thrill of bargain hunting is biological,” says Ellwood. “When we see a good bargain, our brains react with a burst of dopamine, the chemical that signals the pleasure of a reward.”  Consumers are drawn by collecting as many and as varied rewards and experiences as possible.  People want to experience more, even when they have less to spend.  Every cent saved means more to spend on new products, services and experiences.  According NM Incite, 60% of consumers visit social networks to receive coupons or promotions.  Ellwood recommends checking with an app like PoachIt before you complete an online purchase.  PoachIt will tell you if the product has any online coupon codes, or it will track the product’s price for you and notify you via e-mail when it goes on sale.

5. Loyalty is Rewarded – Two billion.  That is the membership in customer-loyalty programs in the United States.  The average U.S. household has signed up for 14.1 loyalty programs and participates in 6.2 of them.  81% of U.S. consumers think it’s fun to see how much they can save by using their coupons or shopper loyalty cards.  Over 40% of coupon “enthusiasts” had a household income over $70k.  Future loyalty programs will be more personalized by customer with more targeted offers to consumers based on their profile and preferences.  With permission-based deals, offers will “find consumers” and not the other way around.  With smartphones, localized and real-time deals will proliferate.

6. Reaching New Audiences Without Giving Away the Store – Banks report losing money on up to 30% of their customers.  One of the best things they could do would be to “fire” these bank customers and give them to their competition.  What percent of troublesome customers are costing you money?  On the other hand, the 80/20 rule is probably affecting your business.  20% of your customers can bring in 80% of the profits to your clinic.  How can you encourage your “golden customers” to give you even more business?  The key is what can you give away to clients that costs you very little, but will possess great perceived value to your clients? Rather than a cash discount, Ikea will sometimes issue a gift card in the amount of the discount.  Although it may have the same perceived value to a loyal Ikea customer, the gift card presents a better value to the store.  One of Amazon’s keys to success is to offer similar products to those who already do business with them.  Not only is it 5 to 6 times more expensive to get a new customer, it is a lot more efficient to sell more to those who already know and love you. How does your business participate in suggestive selling?

7. Cash Less – In Sweden, only three percent of transactions involve cash.  For governments, cash is expensive to print, inspect, move, store and guard.  Cash is favored by criminals, such as prostitutes and drug dealers.  With electronic money, governments can track its movement every step of the way.  Economist Robert Reich said, “There will be a time – I don’t know when, I can’t give you a date – when physical money is just going to cease to exist.”  Shoppers who have their credit card information stored on their NFC (Near Field Communications) smartphones can pay for their purchases by waving them near a reader, rather than getting out their credit cards.  (Remember when people would write checks?)  For consumers, the initial lure will be convenience.  Eventually, mobile payments will create a whole new system of rewards.

8. Point and Know – The need and expectation for instant gratification and instant access to everything one wants to know is deeply ingrained in the consumer.  (Thus the lament of many current school children, “Why do I need to know that?  If I ever need to know, I can always ‘Google’ it!)  The rise of the (always-in-my-pocket) smartphone will fuel full-blown Point and Know.  Real-time reviews of any deals will be easier to find, if not automatically accompanying the reviews.  Rest assured that poor quality businesses (perhaps your competition) will no longer simply be able to turn to promotions to attract new customers.  A bad product or service will be a bad deal at any price.  Potential customers will know ahead of time.

Source: www.trendwatching.com. One of the world’s leading trend firms, trendwatching.com sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide in 9 languages.  Ted Janusz adapted and conducted additional research on these trends identified by www.trendwatching.com for this post.

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