Top 10 sustainability concerns
I’ve been looking into how the notion of sustainability will be impacting on organisations. But I decided to take my exploration a little wider and look at societal issues, lifestyle and well-being concerns. So it was good to come across the Natural Marketing Institutes Top Trends for 2007.
The overriding theme for 2007 is consumer control – individuals are increasingly fed up with mass consumerism (at last!) and we want innovative, personalised products. Here are the top 10 trends:
Age of the Individual: this trend is all about being in control. Following high profile corporate scandals and politicians who deny they’ve been up to no good, consumers are looking for products and services made “just for me”. Puma’s custom-designed sneakers and Toyota’s customisable Scion are leading examples of just-for-me products. We also want greater control over our health. With the rise of obesity, juvenile diabetes and other diet related health worries, the wellness industry has become increasingly popular. Alternative therapies and the vitamin supplement industry are allowing us to be more involved in the health decision making process with a focus on “me the unique individual”.
Seize the moment: fast food, fast cars, disposable products. This has been with us for some time and is likely to continue as consumers demand the “temporary”. Life-long devotion to a particular “brand product” will decline as people demand faster product lifecycles; they will also buy “no name brands” more often. Consumers will demand products that help them discover new tastes and flavours, as well as allow us to experience innovative design ideas and products.
Mmmm…I recall my grandmother using nothing but Helena Rubenstein products for years and years. She was never swayed by new cosmetic products or swish advertising. Wonder what she’d think of our ‘temporary culture”!
A Deeper Values Experience: I suspect this trend is originating in the Sustainability movement; and also from our deep suspicion and anger towards politicians, Government – you name it. Beyond the fabulous products out there, we also want to feel good about ourselves when we use them. We want to know that we are buying Fair Trade goods or that a percentage of profits goes towards alleviating poverty. Ecotourism is on the rise as we increasingly seek a holiday experience in a rainforest for example. I did this in 2004, when I went to Nicaragua specifically to take a rainforest tour with an indigenous herbal medicine doctor. In driving rain, I slipped down every path and tripped over the roots of huge trees. I couldn’t understand a word the man was saying as he told me how each tree and leaf could be used medicinally – but it was the best travel experience I’ve ever had and I managed to keep my lipgloss on – gotta look good even when traipsing through the jungle :)-
Back to the Future: for decades we’ve been at the mercy of mass production. Seems everything is “Made in China” and the sizes don’t always fit us. So now it’s back to a time when local craft products were available; when one-of-a-kind shopping experiences were the norm; and when we enjoyed simplicity. Again, back to my grandmother – she used to tell me about how she shopped in the 1950s. She would go to David Jones (department store still existing in Sydney) and enjoy a personal shopping experience. If buying gloves, she would place her elbow on a velvet cushion and the assistant would carefully fit the glove over her hand. Clothes and other items were made in Europe or Australia and often these items were unique. (I was in DJs the other day and glanced over at the perfume section – full of Celebrity-name perfumes. What’s happened to the unique, quality products?). Individuals also want products with labels telling exactly where it was made and what the ingredients are.
The New Fear Factor: just as I was gearing up to do a post on what I think are our current fears, along comes this trend. Particularly, post 9/11 we are living in a world where we are watched, searched and our politicians are creating a fear based society that is getting eerily reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 environment. This leads to a feeling of loss of control as individuals cope with the demands of heightened security issues and concerns over whether a global database of our fingerprints and iris patterns is being constructed. We may not be able to control these external factors, but we are demanding safer food, especially organic and environmentally friendly products.
It’s Reigning Men: I like this trend! we’ve seen the rise of the Metrosexual and mens’ grooming products. Men can now fully participate in the personal care category as societal opinion no longer views a man who moisturises as being “not manly”. It’s predicted that mens’ products will now be included in traditional female categories like body care.
New Consumer-Centric Media: it’s a content driven world and consumers want to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to personalising content and their online experience. Social software is allowing networks and circles of trust to be formed around like-minded people who spread the word about products and services through viral marketing. Online shopping increasingly becomes the norm as online providers trip over themselves to offer you that unique shopping experience.
Just last week, I decided to try buying from an online beauty website (lipgloss again!). I was amazed at the menu of offerings – products from Italy, the US, Greece, you name it – and I could see what other products people were buying from the different categories. My products arrived in just over 24 hours, wrapped in gold tissue paper and with easy instructions on how to return the products if necessary. Certainly beats schlepping around a department store and experiencing often nonchalant service!
Memory Fast Lane: thank goodness, I thought I was having trouble remembering things because I’m getting older. But it seems that our fast-paced, 24/7 lifestyle and being constantly connected is distracting us and causing memory retention issues. This is a problem across generations, not just Baby Boomers, and the vitamin supplement industry is rushing to the rescue with memory concentration aids and brain tonics to help people along the spectrum from students, to online gamers, to senior citizens.
Working Women Revisited: the Womens’ Lib movement of the 1960s and 1970s certainly opened up opportunities for women to have a career. Apparently though a study has linked women’s entrance into the workforce during the 1970s with a significant decline in children’s diets including the onset of juvenile diabetes. So the trend is to eat at home more often (and get in touch with the family) and demand healthy fast-food options (is this an oxymoron?).
The Centenarian Century: with more focus on wellness, work/life balance and services to better support the aging, this will be the century of people living beyond 100 (hope for me yet!). Baby Boomers are currently hitting retirement age and are not about to retire quietly. They will be demanding quality health care, insurance and social services and there will be new products and services to cater for the longevity factor.