2012: Trends to prepare for

The acceleration of change globally will be a continuing feature of life in 2012 according to most analysts including McKinsey, The Economist, Euro RSCG, Trendwatching, and Global Trends.   This post summarises the trends to prepare for in 2012 and draws together resources which list these in greater detail – links are included within this post. The solutions are plain, if you know how.

The dynamics within and between areas of change are responsible for this acceleration.

For example, China’s continuing dominance will be challenged by the downturn in consumption elsewhere – a situation which will also affect India and Brazil.

Africa’s continued growth will signal the development in that continent of a new middle class and a demographic dividend arising from a young population, a shift towards services and production and away from commodities, though this development is likely to be patchy and reliant on political will.

Europe and the UK will face ever more challenges as the economies there falter. The BRIC bloc will grow as other economies’ expansion shifts the balance of trade and consumption.

Resource Wars: As natural resource scarcity deepens, the scramble is on to secure future supplies of critical raw materials which in turn will intensify geopolitical and commercial competition and conflict in the search for control. Digital resources are also opening new arenas of potential conflict, cyberwars were a feature of life in 2011 as countries and commercial interests fought it out. In education and healthcare, the battle is on to build the workforce capabilities to win these resource wars.

Democratisation Everywhere: As incomes rise across the BRIC and African regions people’s rapidly increasing array of choices will intensify real and virtual networks with friends, communities or professions. From politics (as we have already seen in 2011) to a continuing intensification of social purchasing, the success factors of  relevance and legitimacy will be increasingly important.

Searching for a Moral Compass: Communities of choice and greater individual power coupled with shifting digital identities, competing and conflicting laws and regulations, codes of conduct and traditions, and where corporate purpose and legitimacy is questioned in the context of shifting economic fortunes the battle to shape the attitudes and behaviours of individuals will intensify personal searches for a moral compass to provide meaning and bolster identity.

Value Creation and Redefining the Playing Fields: Firms that look, think and act like each other will redefine the the focus and basis of competition, or playing field, around consumers needs. Great news for consumers with power and choice, not so good for the traditional industries that shaped our past.

The report from Euro RSCG Worldwide details trends across regions and channels in greater detail and I’d recommend taking a look, it is long, but well written and detailed.

We will continue to see a boom in recyling, as much a result of the scarcity of natural resources as moral concerns.

The economic downturn in Europe and North America coupled with the increasing penetration of mobile technology and the massive growth of the new (though relatively low-income) middle class in the BRICs will drive the trend for affordable deals.

The Solution?: Businesses will need to adapt and develop further and faster than before in order to survive and grow. This will require innovative thinking and investment, perhaps at the cost of those areas which are already declining or where working practices are holding back progress. Digital and mobile will continue to grow and will affect the way that businesses operate. These are brave decisions, get it wrong and it could spell the end of your business. The key is planning, investment, being open-minded and experimental and, yes, brave too. Businesses with a track record of success and growth are marked by an overarching characteristic, spotting trends and adapting and innovating convincingly in order to survive and benefit. Here are some basic marketing solutions which may help. For more, talk to an expert (hint).

We can be sure that the one constant will be change; more of it, faster than before and with ever deeper effects.

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