Understanding how trends work enables marketers and brand custodians to differentiate between short-term fads and trends, the latter having potential to impact long-term consumer behaviour.
A fad – or fashion – is a ‘fast burn’ that rapidly peaks, and disappears just as quickly. It is less driven by socio/cultural factors and not necessarily aligned to broader consumer need changes. Fads tend to be more regional than global.
By contrast, a trend is rooted in identifiable sets of cultural drivers and can be tracked across continents. It typically has global reach, and is long-lived and evolving. In essence, a trend is a shift in the way people think and consequently act.
Megatrends take years and even decades to evolve, and tend to manifest in a number of microtrends – that is, emerging and niche behavioural changes – over the years.
Added Value’s South African cultural insight and semiotics specialist, Dr Inka Crosswaite, identifies those megatrends that are having a profound impact on society locally, and suggests how they and the microtrends that follow in their wake will shape society and brands in the years ahead.
South African Context: Consumer as curators – no longer just a word
Overall growth for South Africa in 2013 is widely accepted to be modest. Retailers will be faced with increasing costs, but falling prices as they attempt to convince cash-strapped consumers to part with their hard-earned income. At the same time, consumers will find their voices as they take to the internet and social media in ever increasing numbers to compare products, prices and experiences.
The tasks therefore facing retailers and consumer goods companies are myriad: they will not be able to compromise on service levels but will still have to provide greater choice, demonstrate commitment to sustainability, and comply with increasingly onerous (but very valid) food labelling and employment equity legislation.
Megatrend 1: Open Creativity
There has been a worldwide growth in interest in ‘creativity’ by those who ‘consume creativity’ in its various forms – art, dance, music, design, cuisine, fashion and so on – in a bid to satisfy values of self-expression, escapism, fulfilment and enrichment.
Paradoxically, two of the drivers of this growth are rooted in the seemingly mundane: the adoption of technology allows people to learn new skills and the desire to escape the dreariness of the economic recession. At the same time, the globalisation of culture and peer pressure to be creative are considerations.
How is this megatrend currently manifesting itself in microtrends?… read more