Trendwatching firm, JWTIntelligence, recently released its seventh annual trend forecast, JWT 10 Trends for 2012. Which of the 10 are most likely to affect small business going forward? Here are my picks.
Navigating the new normal: With the current economic situation showing few signs of major change, JWT says companies in developed nations will start introducing new products and services at lower price points. “Stripped-down offerings and smaller sizes” are one way to take advantage of this trend, JWT notes.
Takeaway: Consider introducing different versions of your products or services. For instance, if you own a spa, you could offer a “quickie” version of popular treatments that takes less time and costs less. One sales tactic that works well is creating three levels of a product or service—value, midrange and premium—and marketing them accordingly.
Bonus: Studies have shown when you have three price choices, more people are likely to pick the mid-priced option—which could boost your sales considerably compared to having just one option.
Live a little: After years of navigating through a tough economy, people are tired of cutting back and, while they can’t afford to really let lose, they’re eager for little treats or luxuries that make them feel better.
Takeaway: These little luxuries can be different things for different people—from a gourmet cupcake to a fine whiskey or a manicure. Think of a way your business can offer customers a moment of respite and a quick escape from reality for an affordable price.
Marriage optional: More and more women are opting to delay marriage or skip it altogether. This could mean they are living with a significant other, living with roommates, living alone or even becoming single moms.
Takeaway: I’ve written in the past about how weddings are a huge market for entrepreneurs, and while that’s still true, you should also consider how to reach this new market. The delay of marriage means even women who are not planning weddings are going through many of the same transitions that newlyweds do—such as buying and furnishing first homes or apartments, buying products and services for children, and planning celebrations such as birthday parties and girls’ getaways.
Celebrating aging: JWT says people are taking an increasingly positive view of aging. I personally am a bit skeptical on this front—in America, at least, I think we still have a long way to go. Regardless, America is aging, and the baby boomers, in particular, have money to spend, so ignoring or patronizing this group is a big mistake.
Takeaway: As Americans over 55 become a bigger proportion of the population, you’ll need to attract them or lose market share. Keep in mind that boomers buy products and services not just for themselves, but also for their aging parents, their kids and their grandkids. And remember, the best way to lose a boomer customer is to treat him or her like a “senior”—so make accommodations if needed, but don’t make a big deal about them.
Objectifying objects: As the world increasingly goes digital, an interesting trend is occurring: New premiums are being placed on actual objects, since they’re becoming increasingly rare.
The takeaway: If you offer products or services digitally, think about tactile “extras” you could sell along with them, or ways your customers can use digital tools to create physical goods. For instance, the report mentions Postagram , an app that lets users turn digital photos into physical postcards. I’ve seen online cartoonists who sell physical greeting cards of their work and musicians who offer T-shirts or lyric booklets to accompany digital downloads. How can you make this work for your business?
There are five more trends to take a look at in the full JWT 10 Trends for 2012  report.
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