It's my favorite time of year. No -- not Christmas, though that rates right up there. It's the time of year when trendwatching.com names its 12 Crucial Consumer Trends for the upcoming year, in this case 2012. If you've got a business and you want to meet your customers where THEY are, then this list is worth a look. Here are the top-five trends -- click here for the complete list of 12, along with detailed explanations.
1. RED CARPET
In 2012, all shapes, sizes and sectors of business, if not entire cities and nations, will roll out the red carpet for the new emperors; showering Chinese visitors and customers with tailored services, perks, attention and respect. (Including examples from Hilton, Starwood and Harrods.)
2. DIY HEALTH
Expect to see consumers take advantage of new technologies to discreetly and continuously track, manage, and be alerted to any changes in their personal health. (Including examples from Jawbone, Ford and Lifelens.)
In 2012, consumers will continue to hunt for deals and discounts, but do so with relish if not pride. Deals are now about more than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and the perceived smartness, and the status. (Including examples from American Express, Nokitum and Daitan.)
Brands will increasingly take back all of their products for recycling, and do so responsibly and innovatively. (Including examples from Dell, Nike and Garnier.)
Will coins and notes completely disappear in 2012? No. But a cashless future is (finally) upon us, as major players such as MasterCard and Google work to build a whole new eco-system of payments, rewards and offers around new mobile technologies. (Including examples from Google, PayPal and Square.)