Stress, privacy issues define consumer trends in ’13By Vanessa B. Hidalgo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First of a series
MANILA, Philippines—JWT Manila managed to pull off what could have been a daunting task of presenting in a playful yet in-depth way of how businesses and marketers can capitalize on prevailing trends.
In presenting the Top 10 Trends report, JWT Manila created fun connections and interactions with consumers in the Philippines by conducting additional research with local experts and consumers to determine how the trends affect the local scene.
This year’s trends focus on play as a competitive advantage. Other key trend drivers are: the super-stress era, intelligent objects, predictive personalization, the mobile fingerprint, sensory explosion, everything is retail, peer power, going private in public, and health and happiness.
In a nutshell, this year’s trends focus on the rise of new technology and the increasing awareness of the impact of stress and the shift of people’s inward movement to search for well-being and happiness.
BusinessMonday starts the countdown with three defining trends: the effects of stress on modern life; data analysis as a more proactive model to pinpoint consumers’ habits; and the premium price of privacy in this age of social media.
The worst health epidemic
Stress ranked No. 2 in this year’s Top 10 trends. It is no secret that life is filled with stress-inducing factors. From the commute to work to beating deadlines, even shopping has become a stressful ordeal for many.
According to the Top 10 trends report, “the World Health Organization has called stress the worst health epidemic of the 21st century. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, nearly 85 percent of human illnesses and diseases can be attributed, at least in part, to stress, and two-thirds of all doctors’ visits are due to a stress-related illness.”
In response to a call to de-stress and relax, many brands have come up with different approaches to tell people to slow down and smell the flowers.
“In China, for white-collar workers in megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the drive to succeed has led to intense pressure and long working hours in sedentary day jobs. [This is why] Outdoor brand The North Face created a campaign advocating that people escape—if only for a weekend—to nature. In the United Kingdom, [an advertisement by] Thomson positioned a vacation as a way to escape the always-on culture,” according to the report.
In the local setting, “campaigns like McDonald’s ‘Hooray for Today’ remind us to ignore the ‘stressors’ that we encounter every day.”
The trend of promoting spa treatments and weekend getaways as a way to de-stress is commonly seen in the local industry.
“Going strong are home service massages and spas that cater to those who don’t want to be bothered by the hassle of leaving the comfort of their homes. Resorts and spas are now tailoring their services to those who are in need of a little R&R and detox,” the report says.
Tough to tackle
Stress is like a giant who is tough to tackle, and recent studies show that stress is here to stay for the long haul. This may lead to serious physical and mental ramifications. A concrete example of the after-effect of stress is obesity.
Marketers can build around this stress epidemic by offering a different approach “to communication and content or new variations on products and services.”
To help relieve their consumer’s everyday stress, “marketers can create useful content (how to avoid traffic, how to stop a baby from crying, etc.) … Brands can also reframe messaging to acknowledge consumers’ heightened stress and provide ways to combat it. Consumers will be seeking more balance in their hectic lives, and brands have the opportunity to help find it,” the report adds.
Predicting customer behavior
No. 4 in this year’s Top 10 trends is predictive personalization. It tackles the processing and application of data gathered from consumers to predict customer behavior.
“As data analysis becomes more cost-efficient, the science gets more sophisticated … brands will increasingly be able to predict customer behavior … very precisely,” the report says.
Also, digital activities generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and it does not show any signs of stopping.
With this, new tools and technologies have been devised to cut down costs associated with data storage and analytics.
“Marketers that fail to address individual needs often fall flat with these consumers,” the report explains.
“That is why marketers now have an increasing need to maximize the use of information on the Internet to tailor-fit their efforts toward what their consumer want.”
In the United Kingdom, Tesco—a British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer—learned through data analysis “that new dads tend to pick up beer, since they now spend less time at the pub. [Tesco] started including coupons for beer in the direct mail pieces sent to shoppers who buy diapers for the first time.”
The US government also turned to data analytics to keep their citizens safe. “Safety officials in the US are now shifting from a reactive to a more proactive model as data analysis helps them pinpoint when and where incidents are likely to occur,” says the report.
In the Philippines, people have already started discovering the perks of data analysis.
Some brands acquire the necessary data through Facebook apps, loyalty programs, frequent flyer cards, etc.
But according to Vinny Vijeyakumaar, managing director and founder of Sparkline Analytics in the Southeast Asia region, “more people are now open to data measurement and analysis.”
Compared to more advanced markets, however, organizations in our region are still behind.
“People are still collecting data inconsistently and, they are not doing anything with that information,” he says.
“For retailers, service providers and other companies, the challenge will be to identify not only broad patterns of behavior but individual ones as well. Once armed with these insights, marketers can then tailor-fit offers, messaging, customer service and more. Savvy brands will be able to address consumer needs as they arise, perhaps even before consumers seek solutions. This brings an unprecedented level of personal service and attention to consumers, something they increasingly expect.”
Also, marketers will need to “assuage privacy concerns and show how their use of data benefits the consumer,” the report recommends.
With the rise of social media, where likes and retweets dominate, privacy has now become a collateral damage.
People now live in an era where the things they eat, where they are and who they are with are often blasted in the airwaves by just pressing “share.”
“Going private in public” stood at No. 9 in the Top 10 trends. The report indicates that there is a growing desire to “carve out private spaces in their lives.
“Rather than rejecting today’s ubiquitous social media and sharing tools outright, people are reaping the benefits of maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining and managing a new notion of privacy for the 21st century.”
Industrial psychologist Cecile Pilapil points out the downside of living publicly—“you always become a source of criticism and ridicule.”
An example would be the “amalayer lady” where Paula Jamie Salvosa berated a woman security guard at the LRT station in Santolan last November.
She was stopped from boarding the train because she failed to subject her bag to security inspection. And as many would say, the video was her “ticket to fame and infamy.”
With this, the report shares that “vigilant profile management is on the rise. People are practicing profile ‘pruning’—deleting unwanted friends, comments and tags in photos.”
Some brands have found ways to guarantee their consumers’ privacy and profile management.
“An Argentinian beer brand, Norte Beer, came up with a beer cooler called ‘Photoblocker’ that keeps drinkers safe from paparazzi-in-training by emitting a bright light when it detects the flash from a photo, making images unusable.”
Martin Backes, a German scientist created Pixelhead: “a full-face mask that shields the head to ensure that the face is unrecognizable on photographs,” the report adds.
Need to share and be social
Yet the report also explains that local consumers are not yet into this trend because most of them “are still enjoying the benefits of social sharing their events and activities.”
Don Tapscott, an expert on innovation media and the economic and social impact of technology, says “humans have a need to share and be social, and they also need private space. With the growing concern on online privacy and reputation, there is an opportunity for brands to find ways to enable people to control the digital information stream connected to their personal lives as needs and relationships evolve over time.”
JWT is a known marketing communication brand. Headquartered in New York, JWT is a global network with more than 200 offices in over 90 countries employing nearly 10,000 marketing professionals.
JWT Intelligence has been releasing its global “10 Trends” report since 2004.
(To be continued)