Trends: did we call’em?


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The people who build these must know something...

Last December 31 we posted our 2010 Trend Predictions:  an exercise in marketing crystal-balling that may yet backfire.  So, let’s look at what we may have called…or missed. 

We’ve reprinted a brief excerpt of our predictions (in italics) and color-coded them as follows:  Green for “You GO, girl!”, Red for “Thine name is mud!” and Yellow for “Am (still) curious…?”  plus, we added our thoughts for 2011 (You can still read the original 12/31/09 post here).  Here we go:

DEATH OF MASS MEDIA  The advertising industry has been predicting the end of mass media since the late 80s… Yet, like Cher, it has orchestrated comebacks in varying guises…cont…  

Yep, we called the surge of social media, but there was much more we didn’t, like the advent of mobile marketing apps.  Marketers are still spending on traditional media (print, broadcast, billboard etc). but the difference is it’s now typically paired with a social media campaign designed to work like the tide to lift the entire flotilla. 

DEATH OF MEGA-AGENCIES.  Pursuant to the trend above, some marketers are choosing to forgo “Mad Men” monoliths and build their own Dream Team

Truth is, we don’t have an exact metric on how many big agencies went out of business in 2010, if any (and we haven’t heard of any).  However, the trend is, like with most businesses today: the big get bigger, and the small either stay cute and boutiqueish, or they die.  However, we have seen several large agencies go from being media-commission dependent to charging clients for time/expenses.   As it should be, although prompted less by altruism than by the sheer fact that mass media is dead (see above).   We have never liked the media-commission-as income practice because it trulycan be a conflict with the best interests of the client. (Spend more so we make more!)  It also appears that with a more challenging marketplace, clients are truly seeking out agency expertise…as it also should be.

TIGHTER SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES. On 11/19 we talked about Twitter’s possible monetization. There is no such thing as a free lunch: not for long, that is. By charging to promote and/or to view, social media may soon be, well, less socialist…

We thought Twitter would monetize by now and we were wrong.  To their credit, they have managed to remain a free service and survive the ups & downs of  a start-up.  In fact, they’re almost mainstream media now. (Even we’re on it now, see right column!)  The number of businesses now using it — even B2Bs — has exploded.  This week we read Facebook was infused with investor capital so it could continue to remain a private company.  If that’s not confidence in the medium…

THE EDLP MENTALITY. We see retail chains increasingly adopting everyday-low-price strategies (EDLP) instead of the hi/lo of yore. This, coupled with personnel cutbacks, are making pundits predict the death of creative promotions and customer service.

Based on our many posts about lousy customer service, we’d say we called this one, although even WalMart has gone soft on its “price roll-back” strategy,  filled its aisles back up, and appears to be going for a kindler/gentler approach. 

THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE. This old adage has recently been recast by Comcast’s purchase of NBC. Controlling content was the goal here. While networks have lost their supremacy (and their death bell tolls), they still offer something valuable the hardware giants want: creativity.

(Ref Twitter, above) We were also spot-on about this.  Yet this past season we saw some exemplary cable offerings, proving that networks have less hold on the creative process.  Gems like HBO’s Prohibition-era mini-series, Boardwalk Empire (definitely not to be confused with Jersey Shore) and the continuing high-level Mad Men are only two among several programs that have pushed the creative edge of the pay-TV envelope.  With new cable offerings on the table as of 1/1/11 (i.e. Oprah’s OWN channel) we predict the networks will turn into the home of campy reality shows and not much else.   They question is:  how many Dancing With The Stars or American Idol wanna-bes can they churn out?

EVERYMAN AN EXPERT. The consumer became king long ago.  Now, as emperor of an increasingly-expanding domain he (she!) can, with a product review, blog, or Tweet, build or destroy in one single post.

We got the green on this one as well.   We see this trend continuing and, with Foursquare and other mobile marketing services full-frontal, truly large tribes of people are being followed wherever they go and asked for their opinions, but mostly for their money.  Scary, big-brother-type thought, but here we are….

SEARCH FOR SUITABLE SUSTAINABILITY ANGLE.  We addressed this in more detail on 12/18/09 so will make this brief: marketers who claim this platform need to carve their own positioning on this issue to avoid “me-too-ness” .

Yeah, we called this one, sorta… but the truth is it’s still looking a bid faddish out there with this topic.  We think it’ll take a while for the buzz  to die down a bit about this and social responsibility, and only those companies with truly unique angles and a real program to tout will remain.

FRUGAL FASHIONISTASThe Great Recession has spawned consumers who actually boast about being on food stamps. Today, more than 741,000 websites expound on the topic of a frugal lifestyle.

Yes, it seemed like this in the early months of 2010, but there is a bit of  reversal now.  Luxury is back in, evidenced by purveyors like Tiffany and others posting 7% sales increases since 09.   All told, even with Snowmageddon on the east coast,  the 2010 Holiday season posted the best numbers since 2006.  We may cry wolf (and unemployment) but there is definitely an “I’m treating myself  because I deserve it” mentality out there.  Maybe it’s just plain un-American to sacrifice and suffer too much…

DEEPER COCOONINGThe Great Recession has re-popularized the practice. The result, according to AC Nielsen, has been that more than 4,000 restaurants closed in 09.  The average guest check also plunged more than eight percent.

While “staycations” may have been the norm in 09, we saw less cocooning  in 2010 and predict that folks will get out more this year and spend more on restaurants (but they won’t be high-end like in the past).  After all, they’ve just launched new cruise ships big enough to house 8000 passengers!  These guys must know something we don’t…  On the other hand, as far as home is concerned, well, we’re staying put.  We can’t sell it so can’t upgrade to swankier digs…so we’re going back to Home Depot for that new faucet…

SIMPLER, KINDER, GENTLER.   Along with the frugal, stay-at-home trend comes the desire for what is truly real. Marketers who provide homespun flavor enveloped in warm & fuzzy messages will appeal to consumers seeking comfort instead of crazy.

We’re really not sure about this one.  It felt like 2010 was a year of unusual violence and upheaval around the world.  But maybe that was just in the movies…  What’s your thought??

HEALTHIER EATING BY YOUTH. Pending the passage of the controversial health-care bill, Americans are showing increasing concern with nutrition and the legacy of obese children.

Yes, by golly, we GOT it!  The just-barely-squeaked-by food law was signed this week, but was eclipsed in overall impact by the First Lady’s earlier, boldly- executed Salad in Schools program.  Along with the removal of candy and soft drink machines from many educational institutions and even government cafeterias, perhaps the tipping point toward the good has finally occured here.

Well, about half predicted correctly ain’t half bad, right? 

Have a healthy and happy New Year!

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