Consumers in general aren’t the greatest predictors of the future but this research by pollsters PSB makes for interesting reading. An America that sees itself declining in economic and infrastructure terms over the next ten years, but sees the country taking a more progressive stance on moral issues.
The country poses opportunities for lobbyists with a disenfranchised electorate that has no expectations of their politicians achieving anything – leaving them free to pursue the agendas they are lobbied about.
It is an America resigned to low-or-no growth and children who expect to do worse than their parents – something unheralded in modern American history.
The idea of consumers being the producers, or at least being part of the process within a modern industrial context was envisioned back in 1970 with Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock. Toffler was influence by technological as consumers started to be more involved in the delivery of their own services and products.
The first ATM machine appeared at the beginning of the 1960s and started to be rolled out seriously in the late 1960s, this revolutionised access to money which previously relied on counter service to access their money.
The ability to make phone calls without operator intervention was technically possible since the early 1900s but it was a leap forward in electronics that saw a surge in the widespread adoption of automatic telephone switches by the likes of Western Electric, Northern Telecom and Ericsson.
The internet has extended it further, from companies delegating services to us:
- Printing your own bill
- Arranging you own payments to other people
- Answering customer service questions on a brand’s behalf (Get Satisfaction, GiffGaff)
Even the job of product manager and financier has been moved over to the consumer. Businesses like Threadless used consumer votes to decide which t-shirt designs they then manufactured and sold to those who showed interest.
Crowdsourcing platforms built on top of Salesforce are used by major corporates like Dell and Starbucks to filter new product ideas and service improvements. Crowdsourcing has been taken further with the likes of Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Demohour which allow the consumer to fund the manufacture of their product upfront. Something that Jolla copied on its own website when it launched it’s first handset.
Even marketing has been outsourced services like Buddy Bounce have the potential for fans to be a largely self-organising marketing organisation. At the moment you can see the way One Direction fans use social media to rally around their band.
Eight trends for the future
Eight trends for the future: digital interruption
Eight trends: Immersive as well as interactive experiences
Eight trends for the future: Social hygiene
Eight trends for the future: contextual technology
Eight trends for the future: Brands as online tribes
Eight trends for the future | Divergence
Earlier in the month I saw numbers that indicated that the savings of UK consumers dipped to their lowest level in forty years.
So I found this information about smaller e-commerce sales in the UK during December. The smaller volume but better basket value could be indicative of a professional e-tailing marketers. What if, those savings weren’t spent on material goods but instead Christmas groceries? It indicates things are worse than the economic figures make out.
UK Online Sales Slowdown For Christmas Whilst Eurozone Sees Significant Expansion According to Computop
I must be one of the very few people who didn’t pay much attention to this year’s John Lewis advert until I had a chat with my friend Ian Wood. Ian pointed out that lack of overt consumerism in terms of the number of presents shown in the advert and considered it to be in-tune with a more austere consumer environment, the underlying form being you’re only going to get one present this year, make it a decent one. I had a look at economic indicators versus consumerism in John Lewis adverts pretty soon after I had that discussion with Ian.
Food and family appeared in spade in the adverts, but presents not so much. The closest you had to it was Cadbury’s who wrapped an entire street and the people who lived there then enjoyed each others company and the joy of tearing the wrapping off. When Christmas does come it seems that it will be at a high cost to the economic health of the British consumer; disconcertingly there were reports that savings had hit their lowest point in 40 years for the UK in November as consumers dipped in to fund Christmas.
Other posts in this series
Observations from the UK: Pay-day loans, pay-day backlash
I met up with Ian Wood earlier on in the week and he pointed out that this year’s John Lewis adverts are about giving a single present and by implication – don’t make it a crap one. So I decided to go back and have a look at previous years.
||Amount of presents that the hero of the advert receives/gives based on the particular storyline
||Q3 UK GDP numbers – as a predictor for the Q4 growth – via Office for National Statistics
||Q4 UK GDP numbers as an indicator of how the economy performed in the Christmas period
||Delta on the GDP values
||Bear and the hare
||Christmas advert 2011
||5* looking at boy’s room
||Christmas Advert 2010
||2009 Christmas Advert
||From Me To You
||2* brought in by each person
The Bear & The Hare
Christmas advert 2011
Christmas Advert 2010
2009 Christmas Advert
From me to you
Guardian data dump of UK GDP data from Office of National Statistics (ONS)