I spend quite a bit of time exploring consumer and trend watching sites, some of the exploration is for work-elated stuff but mainly it is out of general interest. Trendwatching publishes some really good information that you can sign up for and have just released their December trendbriefing that looks forward to 2011. The offer up a number of trends that they feel will define consumer behaviour in the next year. A couple stck out to me. Made For China, examines the gorwing number of products and services created by companies exclusively for the Chinese consumer, everything from Levi's jeans to BMW's M3Tiger, a limted edition orange-metallic car celenrating twenty-five years of BMW presence in China. This underscores the growing place of China in the world economy, and of course points to the pervasive power of consumption in our lives.Perhaps even more interesting is Generation(G)--for generosity, emerging generosity on a global scale is something that the report focuses on. They say that brands from emerging markets will be expected to do more than just 'sell and take.' According to the report they "will increasingly be expected to give, donate, care and sympathize versus just sell and take. And not just in their home countries, but on a global scale. It's a profound cultural change and a consumer demand that their counterparts in mature markets have had a few years to getting used to. Some fun stats:
86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests.
78% of Indian, 77% of Chinese and 80% of Brazilian consumers prefer brands that support good causes, compared to 62% of global consumers.
8 in 10 consumers in the India, China, Mexico and Brazil expect brands to donate a portion of their profits to support a good cause. (Source: Edelman, November 2010.)
The number of millionaires in India in 2009 grew 51 percent, to 126,700. (Source: Merrill Lynch, June 2010.)
88-year old Yu Pengnian became China’s first billion dollar philanthropist in April 2010. The Yu Pengnian Foundation today has USD 260 million of bank deposits, and a Hong Kong and Shenzhen property portfolio worth just under USD 1 billion, which is expected to contribute USD 50 million of cash each year to the foundation. (Source: Hurun Rich List, October 2010.)
In September 2010, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett hosted a dinner for China's ultra-rich to promote philanthropy. The event was similar to their efforts to get US billionaires to pledge to give away at least half their wealth, although the two denied that they were recreating the pledge or pressurizing people to give, merely using the event to answer questions and discuss issues around developing a culture of philanthropy. (Source: Washington Post, October 2010.)
In 2011, any brand or individual doing exceptionally well, will be expected to join GENERATION G.
This connecting between sales and philanthropy is something that has been gaining ground in the West for some time (think RED campaign etc.), and seems to becoming a defining charateristic of 21st century economics and consumerism.
I think there are lots of connecting points for churches and religion in these trend reports, clues as to where people are focusing their attention and desires and offer some strategic ideas for engaging them, not just for the brand-marketers, but for anyone interested in connecting with people in some meaningful way. They are like little temperature gauges.