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It’s been said that “A new year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other,” and in a way, the same could be said for New Year’s predictions. After all, new ideas and trends don’t simply appear on Jan. 1, run amok for 365 days and disappear when the ball drops on Dec. 31. No, fortunately for brands, consumers and all points in between, the marketplace is a little more organic and, in that, a little less predictable. But that doesn’t stop savvy marketers from staying abreast of the ebbs and flows of current trends. Last year, my Vertical Marketing Network colleagues and I spent a good deal of time identifying industry trends, ranging from coupons to mobile applications, from social networking to good ol’ fashion word of mouth marketing campaigns. As we head into 2011, we’re inclined to make some projections — not predictions — based on what’s happening now.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like adaptability is the spice of life. If the only thing we can rely on is change, then it behooves brands to follow the current, to keep current and not miss an opportunity for growth.
With this in mind, here are seven trends worth watching in 2011:
1. Even Deeper Discounts — Last year, the emerging class of online coupon junkies was christened “Generation Q”, and the marketplace will continue to be theirs in 2011. In 2010, the popular e-newsletter Daily Candy launched Swirl, an online sample sale site offering clothing and accessories from the established and emerging designers at up to 80 percent off, kind of like Groupon for the fashion set. Meanwhile, the real Groupon went global, and location-based social medias such as Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla are giving savvy brands and businesses myriad opportunities to connect with discount-seeking consumers.
2. Mobile Madness — Goodbye e-commerce, hello m-commerce. In early 2010, ABI Research projected that by 2015 shoppers globally will spend an estimated $119 billion on goods and services purchased with their mobile phones. In the U.S. alone, 2010 numbers pushed $2.2 billion. From entertainment to shopping to social networking, smart brands are engaging Smartphone users. Are you?
3. Virtual Advertising, Virtually Everywhere — It was close, but in the end, online advertising spending hit $25.8 billion in 2010, while newspaper ad spending totaled $25.7 billion (interestingly, it’s been noted that $3 billion of the 2010 newspaper take is actually online). It goes without saying that consumers are participating in the virtual marketplace, but is your brand? And if not, why?
4. Channel Surfing — Consider, if you will, the Internet to be like a giant TV, with more channels than Time Warner Cable could ever dream of. Now think of your businesses, and the way you can use this tool to your advantage. Company Web sites, Facebook Fan pages, Foursquare promotions, Twitter feeds and blogs (such as this one) are various “channels” through which forward-thinking businesses can engage existing and potential consumers. Services such as AdKeeper aim to work toward everyone’s advantage. Or, consider partnering with a like-minded agency. Surf around; just don’t forget to hit the “recall” button.
5. Video Invasion — Web sites such as YouTube and Vimeo are already household names, but a handful of agencies are making them marketing resources, as well. Heading into 2011, Web video is all the buzz, and for good reason; Forrester Research recently concluded that online videos are five-times more likely to get a top Google ranking over text pages, and two weeks ago it was reported that Facebook is second to only Google in driving said traffic. More than 500 million users can’t be wrong.
6. Heightened Consumer Awareness — The Internet’s not always fun and games. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen two lawsuits filed against Apple and four mobile application developers for alleged violations of computer fraud and privacy laws, and a recent Gallup poll suggests as many as 67 percent of American consumers do not want to be tracked by online advertisers. Across the pond, U.K. commercial broadcasters will launch an awareness campaign in February that alerts TV audiences to product placement. The takeaway for marketers is clear: the discerning public wants honest advertising and products they can trust.
7. Up In The Air — Web video may be all the rage with consumers, but it’s cloud computing that’s got tech junkies talking. Simply put, cloud computing refers to running computer programs on off-sight servers (for example, Apple, Google and Microsoft), places where people — consumers — can run applications and programs without downloading software. Google Documents is a good example of cloud computing, as is the recently launched Google Chrome OS. If it sounds confusing, it’s because it is. Cloud computing is redefining the way people interact with technology — and each other. What this means for businesses remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the newest generation of consumers is growing up with a whole new Internet and the marketplace has only one option: adapt.