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Counting Down the Trends


Generally speaking, I’m not big on trend forecasts. Maybe it’s because there are so many of them, particularly at this time of the year. They all seem to blend together into a mass of predictions and statistics.

Despite my reservations, there are always a few that stand out. But the one that really seems to grab my attention is from marketing communications giant JWT, New York. For the past eight years now, the firm has released an annual year-end forecast of trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mind-set and behavior in the year. It’s always a good read, and this year is no exception.

“In our forecast of trends for the near future, new technology continues to take center stage, as we see major shifts tied to warp-speed developments in mobile, social and data technologies,” said Ann Mack, director of trendspotting for JWT. “Many of our trends reflect how businesses are driving, leveraging or counteracting technology’s omnipresence in our lives, and how consumers are responding to its pull.”

Interestingly, JWT does not think its trends are overnight sensations. Here is JWT’s “10 Trends for 2013” report:

1. Play as a competitive advantage: Adults will increasingly come to feel that kids should have plenty of unstructured play to balance out the plethora of tech-based and organized activities.

2. The super stress area: Get ready — We’re entering the era of super stress. And as stress gets more widely recognized as both a serious medical concern and a rising cost issue, governments, employers and brands alike will need to revamp efforts to help prevent and reduce it.

3. Intelligent objects: Everyday objects are evolving into tech-infused smart devices with augmented functionality. (Oakley’s new Airwave goggles for skiers and snowboarders feature GPS sensors, Bluetooth and a screen display.)

4. Predictive personalization: As data analysis becomes more cost-efficient, the science gets more sophisticated. Brands will increasingly be able to predict customer behavior, needs or wants — and tailor offers very precisely.

5. The mobile fingerprint: Smartphones are evolving to become wallets, keys, health consultants and more. Soon, they’ll become de-facto fingerprints, with our identity all in one place.

6. Sensory explosion: In a digital world, a premium will be placed on sensory simulation. Marketers will look for more ways to engage the senses as consumers expect ever more potent products and experiences.

7. Everything is retail: Since almost everything can be a retail channel, brands must get increasingly creative in where and how they sell their goods.

8. Peer power: As the peer-to-peer marketplace expands in size and scope and moves beyond goods to a wide range of services, it will increasingly upend major industries.

9. Going private in public: In an era when living publicly is becoming the default, people are coming up with creative ways to carve out private spaces in their lives.

10. Health and happiness hand in hand: Happiness is being seen as a core component of health and wellness.

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