Expert's Opinion

12 Global Trends for 2012

January 23, 2012

Toniq's Cheryl Swanson on the issues impacting your business.

By Cheryl Swanson

With a new year here, it’s a good time to look at the world and consumer cultures that surround us. This is an overview of trends happening around the world. What is localized today travels around the world tomorrow. Here are Toniq’s 12 Global Trends for 2012.

Luxury and extravagance are two things that are growing stronger together. Although consumers will be cautious of where they spend their money in 2012, they will save to spend on extravagance and luxury. In the US, consumers are tired of living frugally and will splurge on one or two big-ticket items such as vacations and new cars—things that offer an experience. As for luxury retail, the Chinese are no longer just window-shopping. The growing market of wealthy Chinese consumers are going to be a huge financial supporters of luxury brands and extravagant experiences.

Even though there are magazine, newspaper and book apps for iPads, iPhones and Kindles, a renewed focus on print is just around the corner. The experience of a magazine, newspaper, or book is just not the same without turning pages and fumbling with the folds. We’ve seen the migration to online, but we think there will be a return to good ol’ ink and paper, sustainable inks and recycled paper of just debuted aprint spinoff of the website for the fashion-obsessed,essentially turning their 4.5 million online visitors to newsstands, a very unusual and trend-setting move.This isn’t to say that online will take a backseat; the online versions will become more interactive and act as an additional resource to print. By the way, have you seen the increase in printed and mailed holiday catalogs this year? Total magazine rate card ad spending posted a +2.1% increase since 2010 according to Publishers Information Bureau (PIB). So keep the print libraries open and maybe we can save the US Postal Service too!

We have already seen an app for almost anything and everything. This is a trend that will continue into the new-year. What will be notable is how the companies behind the apps make it so fantastic that you don’twantto buthaveto download it right now! By the way, there are 668,968 total apps approved for the US currently. And there have been over 500 million downloads of Angry Birds! If you don’t have an app of your own, 2012 is the year to create one!

If the saying is true that there is safety and strength in numbers, we will see many brands grow stronger together in 2012. As if there haven’t been enough collaborations between brands, this year will bring together more unique and surprising collaborations than ever. As marketers, it is a genius strategy to share target consumers, ad spend dollars, enter new markets, etc. As consumers, it can make for really cool flavors, designs, accessibility, and owning or using a brand you would have never thought of before.

If you haven’t already been keeping an eye on the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as emerging major players in the global economy, now is prime time. Together they make up 42% of the world’s population. China, in 2010, became the world’s second largest consumer economy, surpassing Japan, and India is poised to be the fifth largest by 2025 (McKinsey Global Institute). Major companies have already started their infiltration into these countries, so it’s time to really look at how and where these countries are headed from a consumer and marketing standpoint.And to reinforce the “Lux-Travagance” and “Eye on The Bric trend”, Condé Nast Traveller is targeting wealthy jetsetters with an iPad app that helps plan luxurious journeys through BRIC countries. Currently, the focus is on India.

The opposable thumb is what makes us superior to our primitive relatives in the timeline of evolution. But with the inundation of touchscreens, the pointer (aka the index finger) may be what makes us super-superior. Babies and toddlers are learning to point and use tablets and iPads before they can even speak. In 2012 we will see more products integrating touchscreen technology. Soon we will say goodbye to remote controls and just point and touch. The index finger may be on its way to becoming the most important physical evolutionary development since the thumb!

2012…Doomsday, the Apocalypse, the end of the world, all the prophecies, predictions and theorists say this is it! So in 2012, we will see more people living each day like it’s the last (another support for the lux-travagance trend). But there will always be the survivors as well - the ones who are prepared and will beat the dreaded doomsday. So get ready for increased purchases of canned and non-perishable goods, gas masks, flashlights, solar powered goods, batteries, precious metals, survival suits, etc. to stockpile a lot of DIY bunkers. If you don’t believe us, take a look at TLC’s new show,Livin’ For The Apocalypse.And hey, if it doesn’t happen, we can all look back and say it was a good sales year for hardware and grocery stores.

Boomers are getting older and living longer. Why? We are better at monitoring our own health and self-doctoring than in generations past. 2012 is poised to be the year of Dr. You. There will be more devices and apps to monitor your vitals, what you eat, how much you exercise, and remind you when to take your meds. Currently there are 7,132 iPhone and 2,036 iPad apps in the health & fitness category, in addition to 1,883 iPad medical apps. If that’s not a sign of being Dr. You and the app-tastic trend, than maybe it’s time for a mental, physical and digital check-up!

2012 is all about showing more and telling less…in terms of packaging design. Let the products speak for themselves. If it’s fresh, show the freshness. If it’s classic, let the logo stand out. There will be a return to simplicity. The overcrowded, over-decorated, over-adorned packages aresolast decade.But it's not justaestheticswhere simplicity leads the way.Industry-specific simplicity will be key. Businesses are starting tounderstandthat simplicity is not just anaestheticbut also, a practice. Brands will have to be guides, by keeping things real, being quick,straightforwardand clear in order torelievetheir consumer from theparadox of choice down the isle.

A while back, we reported on the millennial trend of “neo-bartering” – a trading of goods via online and social media. This bartering trend will grow worldwide in 2012. As more people connect, there will be more trading and sharing of goods and information. has a pretty good selection of for sale and wanted listings tagged with “barter.” In Estonia, there is the Bank of Happiness – a complete barter site where life can be lived without currency. In the UK, they have “LETS” (local exchange trading systems) where you purchase directories listing what people want and can offer. This is happening all over the world and will only increase as currencies lose value to services and goods.

With the recession still looming over most of the world, people are getting creative and innovative. We are seeing more inventors and entrepreneurs. Maybe the recession was a big wake-up call to follow your dreams and actually create that “thingamabob” that has been lurking in your mind for years. Over 500,000 new patent applications were filed in 2011 and this is on top of a backlog of 671,409 applications still waiting to be viewed by one of the 6,664 patent examiners in the US. Perhaps we should “innovent” a new way to process patents?

Cynicism seems to be a growing trend among the 99%. It started here in New York, but has occupied the world now. This air of cynicism seems to be growing. 2012 will raise more questions about big banks, corporations and the government. It’s an opportunity for companies to be more transparent yet remain authentic and genuine; take charge of the corporate responsibility to put consumer interests first. Consumers will occupy…and no brand is off limits.

Let’s make 2012 the year to occupy optimism. As a bonus trend for 2012, here at Toniq we are going to start the drive to Occupy Optimism. “If you can dream it, you can do it” is the motto for all of us here in 2012 and we want to share this with you! So call us, tweet us, Facebook message us, or email us and share how you will Occupy Optimism in 2012. We love to hear from you!

These are just a few trends we see happening right now and into the coming year. We will continue to track these along with other trends in upcoming articles. If you would like to know more about Toniq, please email us atinfo@toniq.comor tweet us @brandeffervesce.

About the Author
Toniq is a brand strategy firm dedicated to creating "brand effervescence." Ms. Swanson and her staff bring life, energy and dimension to brands by blending traditional marketing with anthropology, sociology, the psychology of symbolism and innovative consumer research techniques. More info:
Cheryl Swanson,;Tel:212-755-2929 x218;

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