By Jane Han
This year was yet another one accented with an abundance of market-driven consumer trends in both local and global spheres.
While experts agree that premium goods, all-things-convenient and online-related items were the winners of 2007, marketers can't help but wonder what they're in for next year.
So, these curious advertisers and smart shoppers may want to pay attention to the 2008 forecast put out by global trend study agency trendwatching.com.
This keyword has been around for more than a year, but it still shows no sign of fading as picky consumers keep wanting better. But even with this familiar trend, there's something new.
Next year, we'll be seeing Premiumzation occur in everything and anything, which means the ``luxurization'' will no longer be confined to a specific industry, sector or product.
A good example of an ordinary item going posh is drinking water.
Evian's limited release Palace bottle, which is only available in upscale restaurants and bars, features a uniquely designed pouring top that comes with a stainless steel coaster. The bottle retails for $15-20 each.
Similarly, Bling H20, which bottles water in a frosted glass glittered with Swarovski crystals, sells for anywhere from $17-40. The Hollywood writer-producer who started the water sales in 2005 said, ``You can tell a lot about a person by the bottled water they carry.''
But maybe it's not just water.
Home appliances, such as Samsung's Hauzen, designed by famous designer Andre Kim, offers consumers uniquely-made washing machines, kimchi fridges, air conditioners and refrigerators.
Chocolates, baby carriers, shampoos and soap, and more ― the list goes on when it comes to Premiumization.
|2. Snack Culture|
This emerging culture demonstrates consumers' desire to enjoy instant gratification, almost as fast as taking a bite out of that favorite candy bar.
Trendwatching.com sums up that Snack Culture ``embodies the phenomenon of products, services and experiences becoming more temporary and transient;
products that are being deconstructed in easier to digest, easier to afford bits, making it possible to collect even more experiences, as often as possible, in an event shorter timeframe.''
In literal terms, 100-calorie pack snacks have been selling strong here and worldwide, as weight-conscious eaters want to enjoy the pleasure of snacking, but conveniently watch their weight simultaneously.
Clothes have become another symbol of snack culture, as more shoppers find it attractive to buy cheap, ``wear-only-a-few-times'' fashion wear. H&M and Zara, which have been rapidly expanding into the Asian markets, are good examples of snack culture clothing brands. And, of course, the local Dongdaemum market scene is where shoppers go for disposable fashion.
|3. Online Oxygen|
Internet obsession almost seems like an old fashion term, especially in Korea, one of the world's most wired countries.
But trendwatching.com says the online frenzy is yet to die out, as the number of worldwide mobile phone users is set to grow to approximately 3.3 billion in 2011 from the current 2.7 billion. And the Asia-Pacific region is expected to account for almost 50 percent of global subscribers by 2011.
The figures is significant because, globally, nearly 1 in 3 mobile subscribers will use a mobile broadband connection by 2012, says the trend agency.
Airliners, which have been rushing to connect their customers while flying, will continue to make efforts in providing an inflight Internet service.
Lufthansa and American Airlines are set to be among the first to bring back inflight Internet sometime within next year.
Over the past years anything ``Eco'' caught attention, the Netherlands-based firm says the trend transitioned from Eco-Ugly (ugly and over-priced) to Eco-Chic (actually looks nice and cool), and it is now move on to Eco-Iconic in 2008, where these eco-friendly goods and services carry bold and iconic designs that help eco-conscious owners to visibly show off their credentials.
Some of these icons include cool and green cars, like the Mitsubishi i, first showcased at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show in September. The design portrays a futuristic, lively and speedy image, all the while, the zero-emission automobile doesn't harm the environment.
The Bahrain World Trade Center, which touts extreme architecture that involves large-scale wine turbines that measure 29 meters in diameter, uses the Gulf breeze to generate greater power efficiency.
|5. Brand Butlers|
Instead of having to stalk consumers for their purchases, this trend indicates more marketers will begin providing services that automatically draws shoppers to return.
An example is toilet paper brand Charmin, which recently opened a 20-stall restroom in New York's Time Square that offers clean, deluxe bathrooms, baby changing stations and luxury toilet and bath tissues. Shoppers get to try the product, and if they like it, marketers say they are likely to buy more for themselves.
Hotel chain Le Merdien has started to promote their key cards that provide guests free admission at various art galleries. The hotel chain has a goal to team up with leading cultural institutions worldwide, which will give more reason for guests to lodge with them.
|6. Make It Yourself (MIY)|
We know that the Generation C loves making things for themselves, especially when it comes to digital creation, such as pictures, movies, blogs and music.
The niche activity has now become a mainstream trend, and various companies are hoping to capitalize on this consumer creativity, by letting them create in a bit easier way.
Swedish design group FRONT kicked off Sketch Furniture, which turns freehand sketches into reality. Similarly, New Zealand-based Ponoko allows consumers to see their ideas materialize into real-world objects.
And computer and printer makers are also in the front to custom make goods for their picky consumers.
|7. Status Spheres|
Everything always comes back to status.
``He or she who consumes the most, the best, the coolest, the most expensive, the scarcest or the most popular goods, will typically also gain the most status,'' says the trend institute.
But it adds that consumers and marketers should expect 2008 to be a year in which showing off status goes beyond simply purchasing items.
Having a well-networked social status, good reputation for donating and being environmentally friendly are all factors that add to increase your status.