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The big issues facing us in 2007

So what are going to be the big issues of 2007? Clive Cooper, founding partner of Your Future London, spends his working life telling big brands what the future has in store and how they can respond positively and profitably to change. Your Future has conducted a three-month research project into what challenges brands will have to meet this year here are the 10 things that you need to look out for.

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1 Consumers sourcing/design the products they buy
Crowd-sourcing, the act of looking to people outside a company's walls, has exploded onto the market since the term was coined in June last year. Leader include www.threadless.com in the US and recently launched www.crowdspirit.org, a Franco-Scot collaboration. Albums by Beck and the Barenaked Ladies have recently been released allowing their fans to remix tracks with the best being published. The Creative Commons licence initiative is integral to this trend and has been helping to drive this forward with its over 300% growth in usage over six months.

2 Consumer partnership

Partnership with consumers is accelerating and not just the more prominently reported consumer participation in marketing "conversations" such as P&G's "Get in Touch" and Nokia's "Concept Lounge". Companies are beginning to take a stake in the consumers' life and judging success by outcome and impact rather than limiting to sales. Persil's "Big Mummy" one-off campaign sought to encourage kids' creativity by breaking the world record for biggest picture mosaic in 2002 this demonstration of a winning outcome for all parties should get more encouragement.
This will be complimented by the sort of proactive convenience consumers are beginning to experience in parts of their life; from Oyster smart cards to Dulux Colour Chemistry.

3 Living up to expectations
The internet has empowered the customer to find out the "real" value of a product or service. Over-promising may have once been profitable, but no longer; it may even detrimental (Promise Index 2006). Companies are quickly finding that their products and services should at the very least be commensurate with expectations, and both complaints and positive consumer activism accentuated by this effect.
A couple of brands that have exceeded expectations with their depth of offering have been the recently released Nintendo Wii and Fairtrade products.

4 A benevolent surveillance society
With recent reports of circa one CCTV camera for every 14 people in the UK, debates on the surveillance society have focussed on the potentially negative effects. Given this trend in attitude, these feelings are not only here to stay but are gathering pace. To prevent a meltdown in relations, some companies are making this information work for the customer and not just themselves giving them personalised service and self-knowledge without being creepy.
An emerging example of how to handle consumer data in this new culture comes form Silicon Valley start-up, Wesabe. Their privacy policy allows users to control their data and even delete it, a far cry from traditional practices.

5 Consumers want simplicity
In an effort to cope with spiralling choice for items as innocuous as detergent, 2007 will see more evidence surface to suggest that consumers are filling products and services into lifestyle categories. This personal and self-defined practice will benefit those brands that signal clearly defined and compelling lifestyle values.
A leading example is a drive to appeal to holidaymakers visiting South-West England. South-West Tourism has 11 dedicated websites through its visitsouthwest.co.uk portal geared to delivering lifestyle-orientated experiences from romantic escapes and getting close to nature to adventurous activities and breaks for families with under five-year-olds.

6 New accumulation brands will rule the roost
The winning brands of this year will not only fall into a category that fulfil consumers lifestyle aspirations, but will also include brands of accumulation. These are the tried and tested household names that continue to provide simplicity and ease of access: encouraging effortless decisions based on trust rather than painfully reasoned or regretted impulse purchases. Tesco continues to innovate in this aspect; recently expanding into simple and inexpensive software solutions designed to closely resemble software we are already familiar with.

7 A new consumer is born
"Pukka" is here to stay and replaces the old 'Middle England'
The conscientious or "pukka" consumer will drive the defining trends of the coming year. Representing 54% of spenders aged 25-70 and spanning beyond the typical ABC1 social categories this consumer will create a new profile that all brands must come to terms with. In an effort to shed the old stereotypes companies will concentrate on uncovering these truly representative consumers in today's world. Their lifestyle values have crucially changed in areas of positive attitudes, open-mindedness, a desire for change and a global perspective.

8 If it's not green it's not me
Organic goes mainstream to include clothing, cars, holidays. The encapsulation of wellness has extended from the self to the wellness of the environment as a host of the self. This has resulted in a surge of interest in the eco-lifestyle in particular; crossing all previously distinguished barriers as a new symbol of status. The current growth in organic and fairtrade food is rapidly being supplemented by ethical and organic variants as wide ranging as clothing, holidays, household goods and newly built homes.

9 Consumers on the move
Increasingly mobilised lives means your target is moving ever faster and is even better informed.
The independent and collective power the average consumer wields is being given a further boost with the "X-Series" mobile empowerment service from 3 Mobile; liberating their house-bound content, allowing them to easily compare prices in-store with those online and conduct their lives on the move. This trend is also likely to provide further impetus for easily digestible media like YouTube and give independent businesses additional platforms from which to compete with high-street stores, with fledgling services from delocator.org.uk and theshoppersbible.com.

10 Boomer rage
Militancy against the boomer identity -- 4x4 vehicles, second homes. They have all the power, money and means, leaving other generations to stick it out themselves. Perpetuated by Boomers' self-centeredness.

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