For many decades, U.S. marketers advertised to a stable population which exhibited predictable buying patterns. But consumer aspirations have changed as has the demographic profile of the country. As a result, marketers will be adjusting their strategies.
According to Leo Burnett Chicago, in its HumanKind 2012: The Transformation of Aspiration report, marketers must address a changing consumer base. In particular, 6 trends will be key in the coming year:
- Fairness: Life has never been fair. But now that so many consumers are living on the edge, they have become more awaren of the inequality and unfairness in our economy. Leo Burnett forecasters say that brands would do well to address this issue by promising to act fairly and to ‘behave with morality’.
- Average American: Decades ago, the vast majority of the population aspired to become part of a traditional nuclear family. These days, over 40% of babies are born outside of marriage. Men and women are redefining what constitutes the meaning of family. Marketers must strive to depict various types of families in their messages to show that they are in touch with today’s new consumers.
- Masculinity Redefined: Men used to be the main breadwinners but nearly ¾’s of today’s guys are okay with their wives earning more and they also don’t mind staying home to watch the children. As a result, marketing messages for many products should be more gender neutral to appeal to as many buyers as possible.
- Healthy Food Paradox: Consumers say they want restaurants to offer healthy options like salads but then they buy hamburgers and fries. How can a marketer win in this situation? One example is to offer small portions of less healthy options and to market the experience as a luxury.
- Discounts: To survive the long recession, many marketers turned to heavy discounting. And, in recent years, the group coupon deal trend has further trained consumers to believe that they will never have to pay full price again. The best way to improve margins may be to “integrate daily deals with customer loyalty programs.”
- Social/Mobile: Marketers are embracing new technology without thinking about how consumers are using these new tools. Brands must provide practical solutions and experiences for consumers through the social and mobile channels or their investments in new media will be overlooked.
Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, Leo Burnett chief strategy officer, says “This year’s power brands will be those that quickly adapt to changing human behavior and recognize how this shift is reshaping the fabric of American society.”[Source: Six Key Consumer Trends for 2012 and Beyond. ProgressiveGrocer.com. 19 Dec. 2011. Web. 4 Jan. 2012]