How will Private Brands Respond to 12 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2012?

This 2012 trend report comes from trendwatching.com, a London-based, independent trend firm who scans the globe for the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas. Although its examples focus on national brands, I can’t help but wonder what we as retailers can do with our Private Brands if we address even of few of these trends.

In 2012, much as in previous years, some brands may be staring into the abyss, while others will do exuberantly well. And while we can’t offer any help to defaulting nations or bankrupt companies, we do believe that there are more opportunities than ever for creative brands and entrepreneurs to deliver on changing consumer needs. From Canada to Korea. Hence this overview of 12 must-know consumer trends (in random order) for you to run with in the next 12 months. Onwards and upwards:

  1. Red Carpet
    In 2012, department stores, airlines, hotels, theme parks, museums, if not entire cities and nations around the world will roll out the red carpet for the new emperors, showering Chinese visitors and customers with tailored services and perks, and in general, lavish attention and respect. Read RED CARPET in full (including examples from Hilton, Starwood and Harrods)
  2. DIY Health
    Expect to see consumers take advantage of new technologies and apps to discreetly and continuously track, manage and be alerted to, any changes in their personal health. Read DIY HEALTH in full (including examples from Jawbone, Ford and Lifelens)
  3. Dealer Chic
    In 2012, not only will consumers continue to hunt for deals and discounts, but they will do so with relish if not pride. Deals are now about more than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and the perceived smartness, and thus a source of status too. Read DEALER-CHIC in full (including examples from American Express, Nokitum and Daitan)
  4. Eco-cology
    Brands will increasingly take back all of their products for recycling (sometimes forced by new legislation), and recycle them responsibly and innovatively. Read ECO-CYCOLOGY in full (including examples from Dell, Nike and Garnier)
  5. Cash – Less
    Will coins and notes completely disappear in 2012? No. But a cashless future is (finally) upon us, as major players such as MasterCard and Google work to build a whole new eco-system of payments, rewards and offers around new mobile technologies. Read CASH-LESS in full (including examples from Google, PayPal and Square)
  6. Bottom of the Urban Pyramid
    The majority of consumers live in cities, yet in much of the world city life is chaotic, cramped and often none too pleasant. However at the same time, the creativity and vibrancy of these aspiring consumers, means that the global opportunities for brands which cater to the hundreds of millions of lower-income CITYSUMERS are unprecedented. Read BOUP in full (including examples from PepsiCo, NCR and Aakash)
  7. Idle Sourcing
    Anything that makes it downright simple- if not completely effortless- for consumers to contribute to something will be more popular than ever in 2012. Unlocked by the spread of ever smarter sensors in mobile phones, people will not only be able but increasingly willing, to broadcast information about where and what they are doing, to help improve products and services. Read IDLE SOURCING in full (including examples from Street Bump and Waze)
  8. Flawsome
    Why to consumers, brands that behave more humanly, including exposing their flaws, will be awesome. Read FLAWSOME in full here.
  9. Screen Culture
    Thanks to the continued explosion of touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and the ‘cloud’, 2012 will see a SCREEN CULTURE that is not only more pervasive, but more personal, more immersive and more interactive than ever. Read SCREEN CULTURE in full (including examples from Sky, 8ta and Huawei)
  10. Re-Commerce
    It’s never been easier for savvy consumers to resell or trade in past purchases, and unlock the value in their current possessions. In 2012, ‘trading in’ is the new buying. Read RECOMMERCE in full (including examples from Decathlon, Amazon and Levi’s)
  11. Emerging Maturialism
    While cultural differences will continue to shape consumer desires, middle-class and/or younger consumers in almost every market will embrace brands that push the boundaries. Expect frank, risqué or non-corporate products, services and campaigns from emerging markets to be on the rise in 2012. Read EMERGING MATURIALISM in full (including examples from Diesel, Johnson & Johnson and Sanitol)
  12. Point & Know
    Consumers are used to being able to find out just about anything that’s online or text-based, but 2012 will see instant visual information gratification brought into the real and visual world with objects and even people. Read POINT & KNOW in full (including examples from Starbucks, eBay and Amazon)


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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.