2011: Predictions

The continuing theme of 2011, in my view, will be the recession affecting Europe, the UK and USA.   Despite growing markets elsewhere in the world, the fact remains that these are the home markets for many iconic brands and aspirational / developing trends.

The continuing recession will act as a spur to ingenuity and inventiveness, especially so in media, marketing, technological development and consumer behaviour.

So, this is my list of things to watch for in 2011.   It may not be perfect, it might be wide-of-the-mark, it might even be spot-on.   Time will decide.  

  • I have made assertions and comments on these trends which are my own
  • I have drawn on the JWT: 100 Things to Watch in 2011 report, amongst others (trendwatching.com, TechCrunch, PaidContent: UK . . . you name it)

Take a look and tell me what you think.

3D Printing

HP, Google and Shapeways are already experimenting in this space.   Submit a photograph and select the materials you want it ‘printed’ in and then receive a 3D output.   My view?   One for the creatives – I can’t see it having mass-market appeal, yet.

The Irresistible Rise of the Middle Class

Africa, South America, East, South and South East Asia are continuing to experience phenomenal growth in their economies – in Africa’s case thanks to local entrepreneurs as much as inward investment from other emerging economies like China and India.   As political stability and economic progress bolster each other, so a new middle class will continue to grow in these regions, fuelling demand for aspirational products, services and innovations.   You can get a cheap and perfectly adequate fridge from China . . . but if you want a Mercedes / Rolls Royce there is only one place to go.

Apps Beyond Mobile

Apps will become an integral part of the browser experience, encouraging and facilitating engagement away from desktops.  Think Mozilla and Chrome . . . both browsers which have fledgling ‘app stores’ built in.   New innovations could include in-car apps developed by motor manufacturers to monitor car performance and alert you with a comprehensive diagnosis as much as enabling you to create a personalised online radio station.   Many of these new apps may well be voice activated too . . . driving whilst fiddling with a touch-screen, not a good idea!

The Growth of Check-Ins

The model initially developed by Foursquare will develop further to include pop-up shopping lists (a logical corollary for car users approaching a supermarket, say) as well as ‘social objects’ which will dish up digital content to smartphones or in-car apps on check-in.

Banks Managing Your Lifestyle?

It’s happening already, really.  Who knows the most about where you spend your money, when and how?   Retailers loyalty cards have nothing on the knowledge your bank does, it’s only a matter of time, processing power and creativity . . . all present and correct.

Advertising, F-Commerce / E-Commerce and Captchas

Captcha codes (those randomly generated letter and number combinations that you have to enter to verify you are a real person) will become integral parts of the social and e-commerce models embedded in online advertising, enabling you to transact as seamlessly as possible without leaving the page.

Micro-breweries, Veganism, Whole Foods, Organics, Localism . . .

All growing trends as we’ve seen in past years but now experienced with greater intensity as we become more aware of the environmental costs of not doing so and also as we begin to attach ‘status’ to them.

Heirloom foods will highlight the diminishing availability of old varieties, spurring greater consumption and commercial propagation of these.   Organic, local or ethically sourced produce, from food items to beer, will gain in cache.   Veganism is in the vanguard of promoting healthier eating as a reaction against deforestation to produce meat, milk and leather and as an antidote to industrial farming methods.

iPads, Kindle . . .

These will become ubiquitous as they develop library styled time-limited ‘lending’ and ‘sample’ or ‘teaser’ chapters in addition to serialised content.   Children will start to use these more too, as schools and develop ‘libraries’ in this way, perhaps with the help of the tech companies.   After all, Brands want to be seen as ‘giving’ something.

Ethical Shopping

The spate of natural disasters in the cotton growing regions of the world in 2010 took their toll, so in 2011 cotton clothes will cost more.   Coupled with a growing awareness of environmental impacts we will see the rise of ethical shopping as a mainstream concern spanning not just food but appliances, shoes, accessories and more.

Purpose driven Brands will offer donation schemes whereby when you buy something, so they will donate the same to a needy person / family in the developing world, say.

Forests

2011 is the UN’s International Year of Forests, COP16 focussed on deforestation and the WWF released its non-printable format in late 2010.   Together these signpost a growing international awareness of the importance of forests to our planet and dovetail with the wider ethical and locally sourced drive.

Group Manipulated Pricing

The Groupon model will accelerate with brands adopting the same strategy.   The more people bid to lower a price (an incentive to share), so the more affordable a good or service becomes.   A challenge for accountants, a delight for consumers.

Digital Interventions, Etiquette and Downtime

Oh yes.   Digital will continue to grow but with it will also arise an increase in demands away from technology and a more ‘human’ centred space / time to allow for old-fashioned activities and pastimes.   Mental health professionals in particular are signalling the over-reliance on digital means of expression as a major cause in loneliness and poor mental health . . . get out more!

Urban Regeneration

As the pressure on urban land increases and as cities continue to drive economies we will see massive investments in regeneration.

London is set to host the 2012 Olympics and is seeing massive re-development of the Olympic site in Stratford, East London.   This, coupled with Crossrail and the completion of the Eurostar links is driving London’s prominence as the driver of the UK economy.

Battersea Power Station is also getting a major facelift and re-development which will see extensions to two tube lines in addition to new work and living spaces in that part of South West London.

Further enhancements will include a new ‘city’ colonising ex-industrial land in East London to house tech companies’ HQs . . . a logical corollary to the banking sector’s colonisation of Canary Wharf.   Google, Cisco, Facebook, Intel and BT are expressing great interest in this.   All these developments seek to be carbon-neutral and environmentally responsible, generating and consuming power as efficiently as possible.

Transmedia & Entrepreneurial Journalism

As the growth of digital formats has already shown us, the demand for content does not stop even though the delivery formats might multiply.   Newspaper and broadcast journalists, schooled intensely in rigid codes and modes of delivery will find themselves further challenged.   This will spur the rise of entrepreneurial journalism telling stories appropriately across various media (Transmedia) . . . many may even make the leap themselves, I do hope so.

Older Workforce

We in the Developed World are facing a demographic crisis as birthrates decline and demands on our welfare model from an ageing population outstrip the supply of fresh funds.   Immigration has helped in part as taxes on the earnings from immigrant labour have added to the welfare ‘pot’.   Many countries, including the UK, have been tempted to restrict immigration in the face of demands from the far-right citing the economic downturn.

So where will our workforce, and growth in the welfare ‘pot’, come from?   The answer lies in trends we have already seen developing across the UK and Europe, an older workforce retiring later.   In many ways this is no bad thing as it has positive effects on mental health, draws generations together and can deliver productivity gains too.   But will it be a change that comes fast and goes deep enough?

Peer-to-Peer and Micro-Business

These will develop already existing models further to capitalise on both the economic recession (as people adjust household budgets downwards) as well as environmental concerns.

Localism and ethical concerns will also drive these developments – a need to meet and know your neighbours – a desire to reduce emissions – a need to reduce household costs . . . all will spur developments in this area from bed & breakfast / renting a spare room to car sharing / rental or swapping skills for services.   Call it bartering if you will.

Surveillance

The UK, USA and EU governments are keen to ensure surveillance of social media – nothing will be private.   This has obvious effects for all of us.   What you post on LinkedIn could affect your tax return, think about it.   I make no comment on the rights or wrongs of this – that may be for another post.

Interactive TV

After nearly a decade of brouhaha we might finally see the development of interactive TV services (in the UK) as broadcasters, ISPs and Content Creators drop their agendas in a collective push to develop a new delivery platform.

YouTube as a broadcaster, rumoured in 2010, might not be so far-fetched and coupled with the development of YouView . . . might the inexorable rise of all things digital now be driven by the TV as much as mobile, apps and the desktop?   It just might.

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