Category Archives: Trends

Walk the talk. Design agencies are better at addressing the challenges of a modern business

Recent reports show that design agencies are leading growth (20% increase) in the Danish communication industry, followed by the digital agencies.

In my opinion this trend emphasizes the point that the processes of strategic design agencies are better suited to tackle the challenges of modern businesses.

The primary reason for this is in my opinion the decreasing value of traditional advertising. People don’t trust advertising, at least not as much as they trust recommendations from friends and consumer opinions expressed online. Recent stats from Nielsen again reveals word of mouth as the primary resource for decision making. 92 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising – an increase of 18 percent since 2007.

The growth in word of mouth means traditional advertising has taken a backseat when it comes to driving growth and sales. More and more companies have realized that their product, services and the experience they provide to their customers needs to be the primary focus area. If you can optimize and innovate those areas, customers will reward your efforts by sharing the positive experience with others.

This increased focus on services and products naturally puts design agencies in the drivers seat. Unlike traditional advertising and PR agencies optimizing and developing these areas is the core competence of strategic design agencies. Their processes  are centered around identifying user needs and focussed on tangible solutions that address those needs.  Unlike empty communication messages the output of their work (most often) results in value adding solutions for customers and hence the business. You can no longer hide the flaws of your product by wrapping it up in a glossy campaign. You need to ‘walk the talk’.

Ny eftertænksomhed. Forbrugeren ændrer adfærd efter krisen.

My latest post from Bates Y&R’s newsletter ‘Bates Quarterly’ http://www.bates.dk/quarterly/nr14/post6/  (in Danish). You can sign up for the newsletter here www.bates.dk

Verden i dag er ikke den samme, som før krisen. Men hvordan har den ændret vores adfærd, vores forbrug og de tanker, vi gør os, når vi bruger penge? Bates Y&R har analyseret post-recessionens danske forbruger og identificeret et værdiskift som mest rammende kan beskrives som en ’ny eftertænksomhed’.

Op til jul præsenterede vi i nyhedsbrevet Bates Quarterly bogen ’Spend Shift’ som er skrevet af Y&Rs ekspert på forbrugerværdier, John Gerzema, og Pulitzer prisvinderen Michael D’Antonio. Med amerikanske briller beskriver de opblomstringen af en dynamisk og værdidrevet post-recession økonomi i USA. Men har denne virkelighed sat sig spor i det danske samfund og vores forbrugsmønstre?

Mådehold, jordnærhed og samfundsbevidsthed er nye dyder

Bates Y&R har med udgangspunkt i danske datasæt fra Brand Asset Valuator (BAV)  analyseret hvorledes krisen har påvirket danske mærkevarer og danske forbrugere. Baseret på de metoder, som Gerzema og D’Antonio har benyttet, kan vi konstatere, at 29 % af den danske befolkning er ’spend-shiftere’ I Danmark kalder vi trenden ’Ny eftertænksomhed’, fordi forbrugeren gentænker og revurderer mange af de værdier, der styrer vores ’normale’ måde at gøre tingene på – for eksempel brug-og-smid-væk, materialisme og globalisering. Det som ifølge BAV karakteriserer den nye forbrugskultur er bl.a. værdier som mådehold, det jordnære, og en øget samfundsbevidsthed.

Mådehold

Den mest åbenlyse konsekvens af finanskrisen er naturligvis mådehold. De mange års overforbrug finansieret af friværdier er afløst af en betydelig større tilbageholdenhed, hvilket bl.a. kan ses på målgruppens fokus på pris når de handler. Umiddelbart kan dette enkelt forklares som en indskrænkning af vores finansielle råderum som krisen har medført. Men der er faktisk tale om en trend, som vi allerede så indikationer på før krisen – krisen har blot forstærket den. Det virker som om der efter 20-30 år med økonomisk fremgang foregår en værdikamp i hver af os, og at den har sat tydelige spor i vores forbrugsmønstre. BAV viser f.eks. at status i form af forbrug og materialisme betyder mindre og mindre for os. Bl.a. mener de fleste at penge ikke længere kan betegnes som et parameter for succes, og de ser ikke i samme grad op til folk som har råd til dyre forbrugsgoder.

En søgen mod det jordnære

En anden værdi er jordnærhed. Det er ikke tilfældigt at programmer som ”Bonderøven” og ”Spise med Price” har høje seertal.

Den back-to-basics ånd, som er kernen i programmerne, spejler i høj grad den jordnærhed der kendetegner den nye eftertænksomhed. Vi søger i stigende grad at komme tættere på det naturlige og naturen selv. Det kommer bl.a. til udtryk i en øget efterspørgsel efter økologiske produkter, men også måden vi rejser på, hvor telt-, båd- og campingferie er i fremgang mens der omvendt er tilbagegang for ferier med fast matrikel. En af forklaringer på vores tilbagevenden til det naturlige er de seneste års fokus på den globale opvarmning, som har sat sine tydelige værdimæssige spor i en overvejende del af befolkningen, som ikke mener at økonomisk vækst bør sættes over miljøet. Vi værdsætter og respekterer i højere grad naturens værdi og ønsker også at vores børn skal værdsætte den.

Netop vores børn er en central del af det jordnære og vi fokuserer mere og mere på tiden der hjemme og kvalitetstid sammen med familien. En simpel indsigt, der bekræfter denne trend, er at 2010 bød på rekordstor efterspørgsel efter de traditionelle brætspil som modsat mange computerspil er mere familiemæssigt orienteret (kilde: søndagsavisen.dk).

Øget samfundsbevidsthed

Den sidste værdi vi vil fremhæve er øget samfundsbevidsthed.  En dominant del af de nye eftertænksomme mener at forskellen mellem rig og fattig i Danmark er blevet for stor. Den øgede bevidsthed kommer ikke kun til udtryk igennem vores forbrug ved køb af f.eks. fair trade produkter. Også i vores arbejde og fritid er der tydelige tegn på en øget bevidsthed. En spritny rapport fra Socialministeriet viser, at mange flere danskere deltager i frivilligt socialt arbejde end tidligere. Ifølge rapporten er mere end fire ud af ti danskere engageret i frivilligt arbejde (kilde: dr.dk/nyheder/penge). Ligeledes på iværksætterfronten er tendensen tydelig. Center for social økonomi, der rådgiver sociale entreprenører, oplevede alene i København i 2009 en fremgang på mere end 40 % i antallet af sociale iværksættere (Kilde: Center for Socialøkonomi).

Hvem er de nye eftertænksomme?

Med ovenstående værdisæt i tankerne kunne automatreaktionen nemt være at pege på de klassiske akademiske Politiken-læsere. Men her tegner der sig et anderledes overraskende billede. En af de interessante observationer er nemlig, at fænomenet ikke kun er en trend hos dem, man i klassisk forstand forventer bærer dette værdisæt. BAV viser således, at ny eftertænksomhed har betydning for reformers (de forventede) men også for succeeders og mainstream segmenter. Trenden er med andre ord langt mere omsiggribende og resonerer bredt, også blandt grupper, der ikke traditionelt afspejler ovenstående værdier.

Tendensen indikerer at eftertænksomheden er kommet for at blive.

Cultural values and the pursuit of happiness

I recently came across this interesting graphic, when reading the magazine “Tid & Tendenser” (Danish magazine on trends and consumption). The graphic, created by Inglehart-Welzel, groups various countries in the world based on attitudes and values  – A so-called  “cultural map of the world”. It paints an obvious simplified yet thought-provoking  picture of the world.

It becomes even more thought-provoking when you look at, which countries are grouped together. In the top right corner you will find the “Protestant Europe” which includes Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. These societies are characterized by values of  “Self-Expression” and “Secular-Rational” values.  Interestingly, the 6 mentioned countries can also be found in the top ten list of Gallup’s table of “The World’s Happiest Countries” http://goo.gl/RUQe . Hardly a coincidence. At least it stops me from questioning whether western societal fundamentals – such as relative wealth, freedom of religion, separation of state and church, and strong  democratic institutions –  play an essential role in a “happy” society.

Either that or there is something wrong with these surveys…

The above is just my personal simplified and inadequate analysis. You can read a more thorough analysis here: http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_54

Blogpost – “As Apple becomes Microsoft – does Microsoft become cool?” #Apple #Microsoft #Brands

In a recent column in Forbes http://bit.ly/gFv9af, Elizabeth Woyke asks that particular  question “Is Microsoft suddenly cool?”. Her argument is that Microsoft is increasingly developing succesful products such as Windows Phone 7, Bing, Windows 7 and Kinect – all new and solid products that can challenge Apple products. In addition she argues that Apple’s iOS operating system (4.1) incorporates features that Microsoft has had for awhile (didn’t it use to be the other way around?) 

Woyke’s argument for a new found coolness is in other words primarily based on the rate of innovation of the two tech giants – a debate, which I will leave to more qualified minds. However, the question is equally interesting when viewed from  a branding and marketing perspective. For a long long time Apple has had a solid and succesful branding position as a challenger brand representing the anti-establishment – always in opposition to the giants of the industry. Who doesn’t remember the classic 1984 Macintosh commercial where it is basically spelled out, or the recent Apple vs. PC adverts. This position made Apple a coveted brand among the young, the tech geeks and the visually creative, who could identify themselves with the anti-establishment (coolness-factor) 

But as the whole world is rapidly becoming Apple’fied it is becoming increasingly difficult for Apple to uphold this  image.  Apple products and the brand itself has become highly mainstream – and mainstream (in the long run) does simply not equal cool. The behavior of Apple management in recent years also indicates a shift in the values and personality of the brand. For example, Apple’s slightly embarrasing harsh reaction following Ellen Degeneres satirical poke at the Iphone  http://engt.co/9wkeBQ, would never have happened 10 years ago. Furthermore, Apple is increasingly engaging in behavior often more likely to be associated with  a market leader. F.ex. by taking advantage of their monopoly on certain products in ways that some might deem distortive to competition. Makes you think of…. well, Microsoft. 

The question, however, remains whether Apple’s success and market leader-like behavior provides an opportunity for Microsoft in terms of coolness? Apple’s image might have entered a new path, but the overexposed hype and immense publicity associated with every single Apple product release, shows that it has yet to result in any significant coolness-loss.  

Still,  there is  no doubt in my mind that Apple’s new image path – if continued -could become its nemesis. As Apple’s image starts resembling the Orwellian world they once stood in opposition to,  a new “blue ocean” appears for a potential challenger in the industry. Whether, Microsoft can shift course, transform and obtain that position is highly questionable, due to the long history of the brand. Yet the aggresive and massive publicity of Apple, leaves room for Microsoft to maneuver under the radar, so who knows.

When it comes to coolness,  it is difficult to reach the top, but it is even more difficult to stay on top.

buying frenzy on #BlackFriday a symbol for the era of the mindless consumer #SpendShift

 

Advertising will be evaluated the way the consumer evaluates a product #adfuture

In the mind of the consumer, advertising will be evaluated the way the consumer evaluates products.  It must add something to our lives and identity projects and it must be better than competitor products. In  the words of Douglas B. Holt:

 “Consumers will look for brands to contribute directly to their identity projects by providing original and relevant cultural materials with which to work. So brands will become another form of expressive culture, no different in principle from films or television programs or rock bands (which, in turn, are increasingly treated and perceived as brands). Brands that create worlds that strike consumers’ imaginations, that inspire and provoke and stimulate, that help them interpret the world that surrounds them, will earn kudos and profits.”

http://www.sfu.ca/media-lab/archive/2007/428/Resources/Seminar%20Reading/holt-brandtrouble.pdf

 

Will Facebook be around forever?

A recent internet study showed that within the last year the number of Danish Facebook user between the age of 14 and 24 has dropped by 9,7%. In addition the same age-groups’ time spent on the social platform dropped from 23 to 21 minutes a day. There can be many reasons for this drop, but in general I believe it has something to do with the entry of other generations on Facebook . Kids simply don’t want to share a social platform with their parents.

It general it makes you wonder and reevaluate the strength of the Facebook business model. I admit that I have been one of the strongest advocates for Facebook as a long term sustainable solution that could survive for generations. However, if the Danish trend becomes a global trend I would begin to question if Facebook would actually be around forever… or atleast as long as I thought it would.

 (study in Danish) http://jon-lund.com/main/unge-danskere-siver-fra-facebook/