Evolving Consumer Trends for 2011 That You Can Capitalize On
Georgia McCabe has spent her 30 year career at the intersection of photography and digital technology. As an author, speaker, trainer and social media and photography evangelist, her perspectives entitled “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Friends…or Enemies” appears in print in a new book entitled The Relationship Age, by social media guru Mari Smith. Georgia is a frequent guest blogger for our professional photo lab.
As many of the photographers that we service at H&H color lab make all or a significant portion of their living servicing consumers, I decided to write a year end post highlighting what many believe will be some of the top consumer trends for 2011. As the old saying goes, predictions are difficult, especially about the future, but here goes!
Pricing Brouhahas Will Continue
With the advent of social networks and the tremendous number of connected mobile devices available throughout the world, companies and brands alike are fighting for exposure and market share by more frequently pushing out targeted offers and discounts. Photographers who are interested in repeat business should aggressively begin to target their customers as well. These offers might include instant coupons or discounts that can be pushed out through growing photo intensive mobile communities as well as through your studio’s Facebook fan page and Twitter feed. This will drive more repeat business as well as introduce you to new customer prospects.
This is just the modern version of what we used to call “word-of-mouth.” Social networks and connected devices have a habit of amplifying what used to call the “squeaky wheel.” In today’s economy, more and more customers are becoming frugal and often more skeptical than they used to be. Many have discovered that it is possible to hook up with others who share their likes and dislikes…before purchasing. Most e-commerce sites offer the ability to write product reviews and while you often need to take such reviews with a “grain of salt,” they can be extremely helpful when making buying decisions. In the future consumers will continue to gravitate to their person networks of “experts” who serve as valuable sources of information for what to buy buy who they should buy it from. Obviously social networks like Facebook and Twitter are driving this transformation, since its extremely easy to not only broadcast information out via a Facebook update or a Twitter post, but often to as many as 500 friends or followers! This transformation gives a whole new meaning to what used to be a “water cooler conversation” amongst a few coworkers.
Expect More Visibility for Corporate Giving, Generosity and Random Acts of Kindness
Surprisingly, with all the talk in US political circles about “greed,” entitlements and taxes, most believe that the trend in emerging markets will continue to afford more visibility to corporate and business generosity. Yep, you heard that right, emerging generosity is a profound cultural change that revolves around not just what charity you support or what services you may donate, its how you can identify your brand and services with popular causes. Most people do a variety of things in support of good causes, but a growing number of your customers are interested in patronizing “socially conscious” businesses. A good example of this are photographers who drag a lighting setup to a job fair and take free portraits of attendees. I know, you are supposed to do it because it makes you feel better, but even then its OK if it improves your business as well!
Bigger Population Clusters…Increased Urbanization
Today a full half of the world’s population–over 3 billion people–live in urban centers. This shift continues as every day close to 180,000 people move into cities, adding roughly 60,000,000 new urban dwellers each year. City dwellers are well know to be more apt to try new things and reach out to find new providers and with creative new services. You can increase your reach by finding creative ways to cater urban residents by developing a creative proper approach for your products services. Major manufacturers are already well along on this transition with products like Smirnoff’s Absolute Cities or BMWs Mega City Vehicles. With the advent of Facebook Places taking hold, consider partnering with a local establishment and offer up a service or a product for people who check into their establishment. You could offer a discount for your services, take pictures on site, or even have framed products that you could give away. There are a whole host of opportunities here that couple communications with urbanization.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of things that your business can do to increase consumer awareness and there are a different collection of things you can do to increase the perceived value and marketability of your products and services. The best answer is to do both and let the world know it
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