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Surprise and delight: some hot consumer trends

Surprise and delight: some hot consumer trends
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First Published: Sat, Dec 29 2007. 12 18 AM IST

The Desktop Factory 3D printer
The Desktop Factory 3D printer
Updated: Sat, Dec 29 2007. 12 18 AM IST
As 2007 draws to a close, Mint brings you exclusive insights from the global 2008 Trend Report from Trendwatching.com BV, the Amsterdam-based consulting company that relies on a network of about 8,000 trend spotters in some 70 countries to identify promising consumer trends and insights.
The network is based on volunteers who alert the company on trends they have spotted, be it a new male grooming lounge in Dubai to an affordable book publishing service for new writers in Canada. Such ideas are then simply emailed to the firm by the spotters, who register themselves with the company and collect points for every accepted trend. Points then add up to gifts. Mint readers, too, can register by visiting the site, Springspotters.com.
The Desktop Factory 3D printer
Here is Part III of edited excerpts from the 2008 Trend Report to give Indian companies and marketers lots of examples from around the world and, perhaps, new ways to pitch their products and services to Indian consumers. Parts I and II, which ran on Thursday and Friday, are available on our website.
5. ECO-ICONIC
Over the past few years, the eco trend has moved from Ecougly (ugly, over-priced, low performance alternatives to shiny traditional sphere products and services) to Ecochic (eco-friendly stuff that actually looks as nice and cool as the less responsible version) to Eco-Iconic in 2008, which are eco-friendly goods and services sporting bold, iconic design and markers, that help their eco-conscious owners to visibly tout their ecocredentials to peers.
So what does Eco-iconic look like?
Honda’s FCX Clarity is a fuel cell vehicle that runs on electricity powered by hydrogen, and emits only water vapour and heat. It will be certified by the California Air Resources Board as a zero-emission vehicle and by the US Environmental Protection Agency with the lowest possible federal EPA emission rating. Our verdict: the FCX will be more recognizable than the Toyota Prius, making an even more telling statement about the owner’s status sphere.
When designing your 2008 or 2009 eco-product line, don’t mirror what’s already out there in the non-eco world, but be bold, original, and yes, iconic.
6. BRAND BUTLERS
Consider this for 2008: if consumers value the authentic, the practical, the exclusive, and they’re also forever looking to make life more convenient, even save some time, then why persist in bombarding them with your mega-million one-way advertising campaigns? Instead of stalking potential and existing customers, why not assist them in smart, relevant ways, making the most of your products and whatever it is your brand stands for? Remember, giving is the new taking.
New initiatives: Procter and Gamble’s Charmin bathroom tissue brand has reopened its temporary 20-stall restroom at Times Square in New York.
Think baby food or diaper brands opening a lounge area, including diaper-changing facilities and microwaves, for parents and their offspring at a major airport or in malls. Or a bank installing secure, high-tech lockers next to the beach, so beachgoers can safely store their belongings when going for a swim or walk.
Now, we’re not branding gurus, and we’re not suggesting that brand butlers is the new “lovemark”, but if the following examples don’t inspire you to do something truly useful and new with at least a small part of your advertising budget in 2008, then we don’t know what will. At the Lowlands music festival in the Netherlands, jeans brand Wrangler offered festival-goers a much-needed service: laundry. At 18m wide and 9m high, the Wrangler Laundromat was hard to miss. People dropped off their mud-encrusted laundry and were sent a text message the moment it was ready. No change of clothes? Wrangler came up with a generous solution to that problem, too: they handed out black overalls to anyone who used the laundromat. Like most other pop-up ventures, Wrangler Laundromat is an exercise in experiential marketing, aimed at surprising and delighting consumers in a way that magazine ads or TV spots usually can’t.
Acknowledging that travelling with infants can be a strain on both parents and children, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport opened the Schiphol Babycare Lounge by Nutricia. Located in the airport’s main departure terminal, the lounge is (as the name indicates) a co-branding effort by Schiphol and Nutricia, a Dutch baby food brand. The lounge is serenely stylish and geared to ensuring a baby’s well-being while en route. It features seven circular cabins, each of which can be closed off with sheer curtains to create a personal zone. The booths have comfortable circular seating curving around a crib. Lights in the lounge are dimmed for sleeping babies, with individual reading lights for parents. For infants that need a bit of distraction, each booth has a gadget that projects coloured lights onto the ceiling, just above the crib. Other facilities include a changing area, baby baths and a microwave for heating food. Although Nutricia hasn’t stocked a pantry with samples of their own baby food, the brand does offer tips on baby nutrition and travelling with children. The space is open daily from 6am to 10pm, accessible free of charge to parents and children under three.
Due to its success last year (close to 430,000 people made use of the service), Procter and Gamble Co.’s Charmin bathroom tissue brand has reopened its temporary 20-stall restroom in the heart of Times Square in New York. Open until 31 December, the facilities offer clean, deluxe bathrooms, baby changing stations, stroller parking, seating areas and of course lots of luxury toilet and bath tissue (including Charmin’s new product lineup, which includes a choice between ultra soft and ultra strong versions).
Hotel chain Le Méridien is marketing itself as a destination for art enthusiasts. As part of its “Unlock Art” programme, it has cut deals with local contemporary cultural institutions to allow hotel guests free entry by presenting their artist-designed room key cards and it has hired modern art curator Jérôme Sans to organize special exhibits. Ultimately, the goal is for every Le Méridien hotel worldwide to have partnerships with leading cultural institutions.
7. MAKE IT YOURSELF
Let’s have a more in-depth look at the participation sphere where Generation C consumers have come to expect to be able to create anything they want as long as it is digital, and to customize and personalize many physical goods. The next frontier will be digitally designing products from scratch, then having them turned into real physical goods as well. In fact, expect MIY (make it yourself), and then SIY, or Sell It Yourself ventures to become increasingly sophisticated in the next 12 months:
New Zealand-based Ponoko is offering consumers a new way to turn their creative ideas into real-world objects. After uploading their own design to the website or choosing a free design, users can choose from a variety of materials. Ponoko then runs the design through a laser cutter.
Besides offering access to professional tools to manufacture products, Ponoko also helps users bring their products to market. Once they’re ready to sell, members can add photos of their product to their profile page, together with a description and pricing information. Products can either be delivered to the designer for assembly before being shipped to customers, or self-assembly products can be sent directly to the endcustomer.
As well as being a manufacturing platform, Ponoko also serves as a community where fledgling one-off fabricators and designers can exchange ideas and help solve each other’s problems. The larger goal, according to Ponoko, is to be a catalyst that helps bring personal manufacturing of individualized products to the masses.
Swedish design group FRONT has launched Sketch Furniture, which is a method to materialize freehand sketches. Pen strokes made in the air are recorded with Motion Capture, and the resulting 3D patterns are output digitally to a laser sintering machine. Over several days, the machine produces the object by shaping and hardening 0.1mm layers of liquid plastic. Sketch Furniture is on view and on sale (about $10,500 or Rs413,700 per piece) at the Barry Friedman Gallery in New York.
The Desktop Factory 3D printer, with a list price of $4,995, uses an inexpensive halogen light source and drum printing technology to build robust parts from composite plastic powder, layer by layer. Desktop Factory envisages that within three years, Desktop Factory’s 3D printers will be affordable for home use.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport opened the Schiphol Babycare Lounge by Nutricia
8. CROWD MINING
Crowd mining is simply a moniker for how we see crowd-based business concepts evolving in 2008.
SellaBand lets fans sponsor unknown bands and artists by buying the band’s shares or parts. Once a band has raised $50,000 by selling 5,000 parts, SellaBand sets up a professional recording session. The recorded songs are sold to new fans, and both the artists and owners of their parts receive a share of the income generated through music sales and advertising revenues.
Ad revenues are expected to grow over the next few months, as SellaBand is working on deals with media agencies for countries outside their main three markets— the Netherlands, the US and the UK.
MyFootballClub, which launched in May, recently announced that they have agreed to buy a controlling stake in Ebbsfleet United FC, with the option to buy the the remaining share in the future. In less than three months, MyFootballClub signed up 50,000 people willing to pay a £35 membership fee to buy and manage a soccer team with a crowd of other dedicated fans.
MyFootballClub members will vote on player selection, transfers and all other major decisions. When it got down to picking a team to buy, MyFootball-Club was approached by nine football club owners and also sought contact with several others. One of the reasons for picking Ebbsfleet United is that it stands a good chance to reach the national football league.
Described as eBay for loans, the peer-to-peer money exchanges work as follows: borrowers list loan details and a personal profile, and lenders bid on the loan. Lowest interest rates win. Lenders bid in increments and minimize their risk by bidding on numerous loans.
A study by Online Banking Report predicts that by 2011 person-to-person lending in the US could surpass 100,000 loans a year, worth at least $1 billion. Unlike eBay Inc., which can connect buyers and sellers from around the world, peer-to-peer lending is generally bound by local financial regulations. Which means there’s ample room for national or regional versions.
Now, let’s go back to Crowd Mining. When co-creating, cofunding, co-buying, co-designing, co-managing anything with crowds, the emphasis in 2008 will move from just getting the masses in, to mining those crowds for the rough and polished diamonds. How to do that? Shower them with love, respect and heaps of money, of course.
Google is developing Android-the first complete, open and free mobile platform.
Netflix Inc., the DVD rental site, is offering a grand prize of $1 million to the individual who can substantially improve the accuracy of predictions about how much someone is going to love a movie based on their movie preferences.
So far, more than 27,000 contestants from 161 countries have submitted their guesses.
The Open Handset Alliance’s most prominent member, Google Inc., is developing Android: the first complete, open and free mobile platform. To support the quest for apps that surprise and delight mobile users, to be created by developers around the world, Google has launched the Android Developer Challenge, which will provide $10 million in awards for innovative applications. The first part of the challenge (submissions are accepted from 2 January through 3 March), will reward 50 entries with $25,000 to fund further development. Those selected will then be eligible for even greater recognition via 10 $275,000 awards and 10 $100,000 awards.
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First Published: Sat, Dec 29 2007. 12 18 AM IST