January 14, 2011

Five Consumer Trends to Know Moving into 2011

Tis the season to watch and analyze consumer spending habits.

This is one of my favourite times of the year. With holiday shopping in full swing, consumer-purchasing habits become magnified. Simply by observing and participating in casual conversations with our friends and family about what’s caught their eye, what they’re buying, what they’re looking for and how they’re looking, we can learn so much that will help us market our brands and businesses as we move into 2011.

Here are five things I’ve noticed this year:

1) Consumers Are Talking to Each Other Before Talking to The Brand
Social networking and social media exchanges outside of the brand space are increasing consumers’ power to get what they feel is the true story. By way of example, a good friend of mine—who normally uses Facebook as a means to view pictures of her grandson—this year used the subject line of her Facebook profile to ask about gifts for her grandson, posing the question: Does anyone know anything about Xbox 360 Kinect? A few people did, and they immediately provided her with the information on her Facebook wall for all to see. With these kinds of exchanges happening every day, brands need to be working to drive positive feedback into the virtual world more than ever before.

2) A Few Good Words From a Good Friend Can Still Go a Long Way
People still believe in the value of word-of-mouth, especially when it comes from a friend. So be a friend. Give people some good old-fashioned humanness on your websites, Twitter feeds and in-store. Engage and relate. Talk one-on-one though you’re talking one-to-many.

3) It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s How You Say It
It’s worth every penny in this new marketing communications environment to make sure your company looks and sounds sharp. Good graphic design and great writing will help you stand out in a sea of sameness. There are inexpensive ways to get a logo, website or copy. But a relationship where design and writing professionals work with you consistently to manage every aspect of how your brand is presented to the world—that’s an entirely different thing.

4) Mobile Brands Will See Success
Handheld technology is taking over. Already, approximately five million Canadians use their mobile device to access the Internet. Simply put, brands with websites that are not mobile friendly or that make it hard to buy on a small screen will likely suffer.

5) Make People’s Lives Better
Lastly, and most fitting for the season, is the importance of kindness and making peoples lives better. After a tough couple of years, consumers are more wary than ever about their purchases. They’re looking for brands that are real and showcase authenticity, not that hype-and-jive, sell, sell, sell approach. Trendwatching.com even points specifically to a Random Acts of Kindness trend, highlighting UK flower delivery service Interflora. The company has a launched a social media campaign whereby Interflora monitors Twitter looking for users that it believes might need cheering up. Once found, the users are contacted by tweet, and sent a bouquet of flowers as a surprise.

Sometimes we in the marketing biz have it pretty easy. We merely need to take a moment to watch in order to learn.

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