Every year, the trendwatching.com website makes its predictions about the big consumer trends for 2015, and it makes fascinating reading. Whilst many of the trends may seem to only apply to big businesses, what excites us about these trends is the potential for us smaller businesses to spot new ways to help our customers, and be innovators in our markets as a result.
So in a spirit of innovation, here are the ten trends for 2015:
1. Instant Skills
Consumers don't just want to buy readymade stuff online anymore, they want the tools and skills to create something from themselves. Following in the wake of successful online ‘design and print’ websites, businesses who offer the chance for their customers to interact and create something tailored to their requirements will definitely win over those who don't. Much of the expertise to tailor-make something to individual requirements probably exists already within your business; the trick is to make it accessible online. (Call us if you think your business could benefit, and we'll find a way to make it happen.)
Hate waiting in lines? So do we - and so do your customers! This trend is towards speeding loyal, established customers through your systems, whilst still maintaining the efficiency (and integrity) of 'normal' service for everyone else. Just as airlines can actually board passengers faster by taking the elderly and those with young children on board first, so your business could, according to trendwatching.com, "Design Fast-Laning solutions that benefit all customers, even if that’s in part by removing the most time-sensitive customers from the 'slow' lanes."
3. Fair Splitting
Sharing the costs of a meal will become easier in 2015, with more and more ability to use mobile and contactless payments to split a check or payment between various contributors. It's a trend that could equally apply to sharing the cost of resources, from car hire to business rental, all made easier by appropriate tech. Could this apply to your business in 2015?
4. The Internet of Shared Things
This trend is based ion a very simple concept; sharing. As tech and gadgets become more inter-connected, it will become possible to share the power and resources in new ways, that have a wider benefit than for just one user. For businesses it might extend beyond tech to finding new uses for underused assets, from meeting rooms to vans, car parks to warehousing. Have a look at your business and see what assets you have that could be working harder for their keep.
5. Branded Government
This is a Big Picture idea, embedding your business into a genuine civic project. This isn't about mere sponsorship or PR event, this is about being part of the grass roots of local government and making meaningful change happen. A Big Idea indeed.
6. Post-Demographic Consumerism
This is quite a leap for many businesses!
"It's time to throw out the traditional (and tired) demographic models of consumer behavior! … Consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more."
So if your business relies on such demographical data, it may be time to work out other ways of assessing future markets, including building online followers via social media. (We can help with that - give us a call.)
7. Currencies of Change
Already given up on those New Year Resolutions? You are not alone! This trend aims to reward customers and staff for their self-improvement activities, such as diet and exercise. As trendwatching.com says;
"Wearable devices (and smartphones) can enable your customers to earn Currencies Of Change, personalised rewards*, incentives and discounts that help them overcome the inconvenience, cost or just the oh-so-human inertia that so often prevents self-improvement."
It could also be a fun, effective and simple way to promote healthy practices in your workplace, from taking the stairs rather than the elevator, to observing safety practices in the workplace. Ask us how we could build you an 'app for that' customized for your business.
8. Sympathetic Pricing
This trend offers
"A wave of imaginative discounts that relieve lifestyle pain points or offer a helping hand in difficult times."
In other words, offer discount boiler repairs in winter, not summer; cheaper haircuts near Christmas, pool cleaning special offers in spring. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it shows your business's commitment to your customers, rather than to your profit margins.
Now this is an idea close to our hearts; the expanding use of robots in business. By the time you read this, Amazon would have 10,000 Kiva robots working to pick and pack orders (up from just 1,400 in 2013). Before visions of Will Smith in 'I, Robot' spring into your heart, the aim here is to actually improve the human side of business rather than replace it.
"Robolove will free your (human) employees from the most repetitive parts of their roles, and free them to focus on the more engaging, valuable tasks, that will further increase their satisfaction, and so ultimately that of your customers too."
No plans for a Robbie the Robot at Akira Studio yet, we might add!
10. Brand Stands
For those of us brought up on the traditional approach that a business always remains neutral in local issues or politics, this trend is jaw-dropping. It suggests that companies should take a stand on issues that are important to their clients. It's certainly an interesting idea for brands, but for many time-pressed small businesses, it might be a trend too far - for now.
You can see the trendwatching.com presentation here; http://trendwatching.com/trends/10-trends-for-2015/