Consumer trends in 2011

Consumer trends in 2011
Brands with robust mobile strategies will come out on top in 2011.

The holiday season hangover period is a great time to analyze consumer spending habits, target consumer trends and gear up for 2011.

Consumer-purchasing habits become magnified when holiday shopping is in full swing. We can learn so much about consumer trends that will help us market our brands and businesses by simply observing.

Even by participating in casual conversations with our friends and family about what’s caught their eye, what they’re looking for, and how they’re looking, we can gather tons of valuable information.

Here are five consumer trends to keep top of mind for 2011:

1. Consumers Talk to Each Other Before Talking to the Brand

Social networking and social media exchanges outside of the brand space are increasing consumers’ power to get what they feel is the true story. By way of example, a good friend of mine – who normally uses Facebook as a means to view pictures of her grandson – used the subject line of her Facebook profile to ask about gifts for her grandson. She asked her friends: Does anyone know anything about Xbox 360 Kinect? A few people did, and they immediately provided her with the information on her Facebook wall for all to see. With these kinds of exchanges happening every day, brands need to be working to drive positive feedback into the virtual world more than ever before.

2. Word-of-Mouth Advertising Still Works

People still believe in the value of word-of-mouth, especially when it comes from a friend. So be a friend. Give people some good old-fashioned humanness on your websites, Twitter feeds, and in-store. Engage and relate; talk one-on-one though you’re talking one-to-many.

3. It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

It’s worth every penny in this new marketing communications environment to ensure your company looks and sounds sharp. Good graphic design and great writing will help you stand out in a sea of sameness. There are inexpensive ways to get a logo, website, or copy. But a relationship where design and writing professionals work with you consistently to manage every aspect of how your brand is presented to the world – that’s an entirely different thing.

4. Mobile-Friendly is Market-Friendly

Handheld technology is taking over. Already, approximately five million Canadians use their mobile device to access the Internet. Simply put, brands with websites that are not mobile friendly or that make it hard to buy on a small screen will likely suffer.

5. Random Acts of Kindness Pay Off

Lastly is the importance of kindness and making people's lives better. After a tough couple of years, consumers are more wary than ever about their purchases. They’re looking for brands that are real and showcase authenticity, not that hype-and-jive, sell, sell, sell approach. Trendwatching.com even points specifically to a Random Acts of Kindness trend, highlighting U.K. flower delivery service Interflora. The company has a launched a social media campaign whereby Interflora monitors Twitter looking for users who might need cheering up. Once found, the users are contacted by tweet, and sent a bouquet of flowers as a surprise.