Risqué and opinionated with a digital afterlife - Consumer predictions for 2010

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Next year will see the global consumer becoming more savvy, more connected, more outspoken and harder to please, according to a recently released report.

Ten Trends for 2010, by trend analysts trendwatching.com, suggests that the relationship between the society of tomorrow and business brands will fundamentally change next year, meaning that brands will be forced to become bolder and more inventive to stay relevant.

Among other ideas, trendwatching.com suggests that instant social messaging services such as Twitter will change the way that we get reviews, and there will be more city-themed products as the world grows ever-more urban.

Going green and being charitable are likely to become easier (mandatory, in fact), as both will be integrated by governments and companies to be included in legislation or products. Meanwhile, luxury will no longer be about money - 2010's consumers are likely to embrace what is unique rather than what's expensive.

Finally, consumers next year will recognize the value of their online presence and begin taking care of it - eventually leading to a digital afterlife where a deceased individual's online presence is entombed much like a physical one.

10 Trends of 2010

1 Business as Unusual
Trendwatching.com believes that business needs to "move with the culture" to mirror today's diverse, networked and chaotic society. Expect to see more Google-esque brands that break the mold, promoting transparency or honesty, having conversations instead of advertising or perhaps displaying generosity rather than greed.

2. Urbany
"Urbanization on steroids" throughout 2010, 2011, 2012 will make "city" culture more sophisticated, demanding, connected and daring. Consumers will be open-minded and prone to challenge the status quo. There will also be a growth of products themed around urban centres, such as Absolut's Los-Angeles vodka or Guerlain's Paris - Moscow perfume fragrance.

3. Real-Time Reviews
Powered by real-time social networking such as Facebook and Twitter, consumers will exchange ideas and reviews instantly online. The implication? Magazine reviews are the things of the past. Our friends will give us their opinion, we'll have instant access to the most popular apps, games or films online and we have a social link with the reviewer to ask questions.

4. (F)Luxury
Post-crunch, luxury is back, says trendwatching.com. But this time, it's defined by more than just what's big and what's expensive. Think unique, invite-only, temporary, eco-friendly, personalized or anything else in short supply, rather than costly.

5. Mass mingling
Dire predictions of a virtual reality world in which consumers sit behind computers haven't materialized - yet. 2010 will be the year of social networking for real-life networking; events organized online but happening in the real world. Consumers will use the online world to meet more people and have impromptu gatherings based around common online interests.

6. Eco-Easy
The Green agenda will still be big, but it will be easier to do. Expect either more regulation to force society to do things we'd like to do but never get round to, or innovative brilliance that convinces consumers to do them anyway. Recent examples include green taxes or unilateral decisions by major chains to stop selling certain products.

7. Tracking and Alerting
Consumers will know what's going on, where, faster than ever. Current examples such as parcel tracking will be expanded so that we're in the know about virtually every aspect of our lives - whether it's train delays on Twitter, food menus by email or GPS location tracking of friends.

8. Embedded Generosity
Closely related to eco-easy; being nice will get easier. There will be more products for sale with built-in donations (a variant on the popular (RED) AIDS-charity) and customers can expect their buy-one-get-one-free extra to be donated to charity instead of themselves.

9. Profile Myning
Consumers will get more savvy about the data held online on personal profiles (Facebook, Twitter, mySpace etc) and begin using companies to make money from it. This trend could be seen as a natural evolution of Google AdWords, but in 2010 we'll begin prizing our online lives more. Firms that safeguard or back up personal data will flourish. Especially when we die - digital afterlife services are expected to flourish.

10. Maturialism
Trendwatching.com predicts that 2010 will be raw, opinionated and risqué. Consumers are no longer underinformed and inexperienced, so expect brands to be daring and diverse to grab our attention.

Source: www.trendwatching.com. One of the world's leading trend firms, trendwatching.com sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide.