THE BEGINNING OF each new business year is fraught with decisions for companies.
How will you get people to notice you, what services do people need, what is the next big thing?
‘Coolhunting’ or trendspotting companies such as Trendwatching.com spend their time forecasting what is going to take off and what is…well… so 2013.
They have released some trends they think will be important to consumers, ie, you and I, next year. Do you recognise yourself in any of them? Do you think they have it right?
1. Guilt-free status
We might feel guilty about having so much stuff in our lives but there aren’t too many of us brave enough to give up our worldly goods. This creates a problem for us when we hear of tragedies like garment factory horrors and of big brands using sweatshop labour.
We still want to buy – but we don’t want to feel guilty about it so companies who appear transparent, make an environmental stand or come with a story that the owner will stand by and is proud of will be the ones that bring in the customers.
Example: Liberty United jewellery (above) made from decommissioned weapons and bullets and a portion of proceeds go to charities trying to reduce gun crime.
2. Crowd shaped
We know all about getting recommendations from a friend or peer and how it is likely to influence where you put your money. This coming year, it will “come of age” according to Trendwatching – especially as Google Glass and other technology makes it easier for you to share what you are doing/liking/watching/eating/buying, in real time, to friends and passersby in your location.
Example: Soundwave is an Irish app that allows several ways to consume music but also people to share their music discoveries with friends and to sync up with whatever your friends are playing, or what’s on a sound system in your location.
3. Made greener by/for China
Yes, everyone is still obsessed with how industry is booming in China and what that means for businesses elsewhere. But an interesting suggestion is that China will also respond to the desire for consumers for more eco-friendly products and services quicker than we thought.
Examples: Philips has a partnership with the China Electronics Corporation by which they will install ‘intelligent’ street lighting in some cities, leading to more efficient use of when lights are turned on; on the Beijing subway, there are now new vending machines that allow you to receive ticket discounts for recycling plastic bottles.
We’ve previously written on TheScore.ie and TheJournal.ie about the trend for ‘wearable’ technology in order to measure fitness and other bodily health issues. The highlight for this kind of affordable wearable tech product in 2014 will shift to mental health, according to Trendwatching.
Example: These Mico mood-perceptive headphones – which pick up how you are feeling and match the music played accordingly – were shown at the SXSW tech conference earlier this year.
5. No data
At first, having a business know enough about you to tailor services to you seemed like a good idea. But now with fears over privacy issues and access to your personal data on the rise, companies that are loud about NOT collecting your data might find that attracts some nervous consumers.
Example: This is the great opportunity for – especially online – businesses to get in on… because few are doing it yet. And certainly none of the big players.
6. The internet of caring things
How useful the internet is to your everyday life will drive how much you use any internet-connected device you own or which some company wishes for you to buy. So it makes sense for them to come up with apps and other online-based services that make your life better. In other words, if your own maps app is a disaster, Large-Not-To-Be-Named-Smartphone-Developer, your customers will expect to be able to access a better one, even if it belongs to a consumer.
Example: The US football helmet manufacturer Riddell recently launched a system which has them insert sensors in helmets that send alerts to coaches and managers if a wearer has suffered a serious impact on the field or pitch.