By Marian Salzman, Wednesday, February 1, 2012, at 2:23 pm.
[Originally posted on Bulldog Reporter's Daily 'Dog.]
In no time at all 2012 has become 2011′s plucky and extremely polarizing successor. As opposed to the background noise and emotional handwringing that characterized 2011, 2012 will be heard loud and clear as a defining moment in history. The U.S. presidential election and the Olympic Games are within sight, and the angry American people are at a crossroads as they relinquish two life-defining dreams: owning a home and graduating from a four-year college. As the student loan crisis outpaces even the mortgage loan crisis to become the biggest crisis in the world, these casualties will drive so many over-tired, over-taxed, over-teched people to the edge—and back into the family home.
Yes, this is the year that we seek out sanctuaries of privacy even as we move back in with Mom and Dad. This is the year we attempt to carve out some personal time away from our gadgets even as we find still more uses for them in our lives. This is the year that we ask more of the companies we’re buying from even as we buy less and go cuckoo for discounts and daily deal sites.
These trends and well over 100 more are flagged in Euro RSCG Worldwide PR’s forecast for 2012, The Big Little Book of Nexts. The following are some of the best trends from the book in the realms of people, places and communications.
On Trend with Messaging
Marketing, advertising and PR professionals will all be expected to maintain a keep-it-real vibe and messaging that’s chock full of real people and real stories in real communities near yours. Though some communications trends are more obvious—the domination of all things mobile, the arrival of Internet TV and the continued emphasis on social media as a tool to reach and understand influencers and Prosumers—some other things we’ve sighted of late are also worth noting, as they’re influenced by not only digital goings-on but also what’s happening on the streets. Marketers, take note:
PR will take a hopeful turn as more people seek out sunny, feel-good stories, and PR pros will get up to snuff on all things political as the press looks for spokespeople to comment on how the state of the world pertains to brands. Meanwhile, belated marketers will scramble to garner the attention of boomers and millennials; look for boomers to feel vulnerable and seek out meaning while millennials feel discouraged and seek out escape through nostalgic entertainment. Marketing to children, too, will take center stage, with the childhood obesity epidemic changing the way junk food is marketed (adios, cartoon characters).
No matter who the client, all savvy marketers will recognize gender sensitivity, in light of recent backlash from Dr Pepper Ten’s “It’s Not for Women” campaign (promptly dubbed sexist) and Summer’s Eve’s talking vagina ads (deemed sexist and racist and quickly pulled). But above all other trends in messaging, big marketers in 2012 will think local (infiltrating farmers markets, flea markets and protest) and hyperlocal (placing stories on Patch.com and other community news sites). And, certainly, look for the virtual PR office to be redefined as it heads straight for the cloud.
On Trend with Places
A rapid-fire list of more communications trends to look out for across the map: Asia will fulfill America’s greatest fear and overpower them as a world leader this year, meaning the U.S. and other global players will put their pride aside to practice diplomacy in the region. Likewise, brands will seek ways to reach the ever-growing Asia, especially as China becomes a hub for art and India a huge new target for luxury brands.
See Africa have a moment of mobile me, whereby the mobile phone finally explodes after decades of patchy service. The continent will also feel a surge of pride with a “Made in Africa” era that gives the region, its artisans and its manufacturers a day in the sun. African women are feeling more empowered than ever, too, with a female Parliament leader in South Africa and half of Rwanda’s Parliament filled with women.
Same goes for Latin America. As the first Brazilian female president, Dilma Rousseff, redefines the role of women, we expect to see the reboot of the Latina in years to come. Another big story is the Americanization of Latin America, with brands such as Pepsi, Gap and Banana Republic looking to penetrate this emerging market. And Stateside, Hispanic Americans will be appealed to more directly, as marketers take advantage of the demographic’s love of radio and dance music and their new footholds in newspapers and magazines.
With elections looming in France and the Olympics passing the torch to London in 2012, all eyes are on Europe, specifically the European Union. Expect a backlash against democracy/Euroskepticism, as a growing number of Europeans get fed up with a more American model of bureaucrats running the asylum. Another trend to watch is Germany rising, as the country falls into the driver’s seat because of its stable economy. We’ll also see the greening of Europe and see green seep into all arenas of life. Look for people to go gaga for green as ecotourism becomes a valid vacation option this year and eco chic explodes as Stella McCartney and Nike launch eco-friendly lines. Fido, too, is debating on whether to go eco this year, which may be the final straw that leads to eco overload.
On Trend with People
We’ve got plenty to say about this planet’s tastemakers: For starters, their love of digital radio is changing the way we listen to and share music, and their love of one another is changing social norms as gay marriage continues to be legalized in pockets across the globe and more people decide against marriage and opt for fewer children. The children they do have, though, will likely be the beneficiary of superhero-style parenting, as attachment parenting continues to be all the rage.
Though the nuclear family may have been incinerated, we’re finding sexual appetites still ablaze, as sex products enjoy a moment and layoffs and dwindling 401(k)s inspire couples to refocus on bedroom activities. Outside the bedroom, we’re getting even more wrapped up in our gadgets, most especially the tablet. In fact, “Got tablet?” could easily be the ad campaign of 2012.
And in mind and mood news, health authorities are fretting over the rising burden of anxiety and depression around the world and looking to technology for a helping hand. A slew of apps are now available to users to record their mood and notice what triggers changes, and sociologists, too, are looking to mood meters or sociometers to anticipate future behavior. On the subject of mood, men in a post-metrosexual world are feeling so down and out that we’ll see an intense new focus on making better men out of boys. And speaking to our global anxiety, it’s now becoming clear that we might have so much consumer choice that it’s making people feel more anxious. It turns out that in this go-go-go, always-on, 24/7 hyperconnected world, people in all walks of life in all countries are vulnerable to decision fatigue and most people will entertain themselves on their tablets. No wonder 66 percent of respondents in a recent Euro RSCG survey of people in 19 countries agreed that “most of us would be better off if we lived more simply.” A round of chill pills for everyone, please.
Photo Credit: Gawker.com