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January 4, 2013
Emerging markets are set to export, and even flaunt their national and cultural heritage, in the next 12 months. Symbols, lifestyles and traditions that were previously downplayed, if not denied, are to be brought up to date, to become a source of pride for domestic consumers, and of interest to global consumers.
A new study has noted that in 2013, global cultural capital is set to continue to be overturned just as dynamically as its financial equivalent. Markets such as China, Brazil and India are to reflect this emerging trend. A case in point is Mumbai-based luxury fashion designer Masaba Gupta's House of Masaba, which has reinvented the traditional Indian saree with quirky, modern motifs and pop art prints.
Released in Spring 2012, the black-and-white camera print saree has been favoured by several Indian celebrities, as have the cow and animal-print versions. Prices range from Rs 8,000 to 10,000. Another example is China's first luxury fashion brand Ne-Tiger, which is renowned for its East-meets-West, ethnically inspired designs. September 2012 saw the company's founder Zhang Zhifeng give a speech entitled 'From China, to the World' before the brand presented its latest haute couture Huafu collection in Milan, Italy.
Top of the ranks is also Sulwhasoo, traditional Korean beauty brand, which has taken the US by storm. Beauty insiders have long celebrated Korean beauty products, and this is expected to grow further in this year, according to the new study. Noted for its distinctive package design, reminiscent of classic Korean pottery, Sulwhasoo's products feature native Korean botanicals and medicinal herbs, including ginseng and white peony root.
Stating that 2013 would be the time to partner with a hot local brand from an emerging market, with companies eager to bring their flavour across to the customers at home, global trend forecasting firm trendwatching has noted that it is time to start paying respect to local cultures.
In its annual list of some of the most prominent consumer trends to impact business and lifestyles in 2013, the company has shown how each trend is supported by a selection of brand innovations, campaigns and initiatives.
"Everything will be up for grabs in 2013," says Henry Mason, global head of research, trendwatching. "We will see new ways of funding and manufacturing products, new expectations as to how businesses behave, and new exports from emerging markets. One thing is certain: it will be an opportunity-packed and exciting year ahead for those who understand, and successfully cater to, changing consumer expectations," he adds.
The study has noted that one should expect 2013 to witness a daring change in the relationship between ambitious, responsible brands and their customers. Switched-on brands that are embarking on the much needed journey towards a sustainable and socially-responsible future are set to demand that their customers also contribute, and, in doing so, earn the respect of even the most demanding of consumers.
Though consumers are not going to put themselves out for brands unless they truly believe in the bigger vision, if the marketer positions itself as a demanding brand, the study has noted it should make sure that it is 100 per cent transparent and sincere.
Stating that it is one thing to be temporarily demanding as a stunt to grab consumers' attention, and quite another to make meaningful demands on an ongoing basis, the study has cited the case of Tata Docomo and its Bloodline Club. The latter is an online social initiative that leverages the power of social networks. The company urges consumers to take a common pledge to save lives in time of need by volunteering to donate blood. The club ensures that consumers are connected at the right time, and a life is saved.
A micro-site was launched as part of this initiative where the user can log in via Facebook, Twitter or using his/ her mobile number. The user would be required to provide his/ her blood group and mobile number on the website. Once registered, the user would start getting appeals for blood from other members in the group during emergencies.
While 2013 is to be the perfect storm of necessity and opportunity, the company has said that marketers who understand and cater to changing consumer needs, desires and expectations will have plenty of opportunities to profit from.
A re-mapped global economy, new technologies, new business models -- there are lots of things to like.
As for the next big thing -- the mega-trend of transparency in 2013 -- the company has suggested that brands must move from 'having nothing to hide', to pro-actively showing they are being open and transparent. Brands need to go beyond uttering lofty statements on 'values' or 'culture' to real, unambiguous and clear evidence, or statements about actual results, says the study. As total transparency becomes a hygiene factor, brands will need to prove their ethical and environmental credentials to those who care.
Moreover, the proportion of people saying brands make a notable positive contribution to their lives is around 8 per cent in the European markets, and 5 per cent in the US. Interestingly, the comparable figures in China and Latin America are 57 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
And if a company is wondering what its customers will say if they go full frontal, the real question for 2013, according to the study, is: What they will think if the company does not?
According to a study by Cone Communications, 69 per cent of consumers in the US said they are more likely to buy from a brand that talks publicly about its corporate social responsibility (CSR) results, versus the remainder who would purchase from a brand that talks about its CSR mission.
Hectic, urban lifestyles pervade the globe. The next 12 months is set to herald an explosion in products, services and experiences that will enable mobile-loving consumers to embrace a more seamless, multi-tasking lifestyle.
Digital technologies are set to be the new medicines in this year, as consumers turn to the medical profession to certify and curate these products with doctors 'prescribing' apps and services, as much as they prescribe medicines as a course of treatment.
In July 2012, the Food and Drug Administration in the US granted Proteus Digital Health pre-market clearance for their ingestible sensor, which can monitor whether a patient is taking their medicine. The sensor is activated (and powered) by stomach fluid, and the patient's physiological data is sent out to an accompanying smartphone app that will alert them if a medicine is not taken as scheduled. The app could soon be available at a store next door.