Have a Creative New Year

The world is verging on the new year, and is celebrating its twelve months of productivity and change. The tradition is to take stock of all that happened, then look forward to set visions for a shimmering future. Of course the big question burning in everybody’s mind is what the heck will next year bring, especially in marketing and branding.

We’ve been struck by the rate of change in business, technology and lifestyle, and how hard it is to know what opportunities will arise for companies. However, as we cut to the core of it all, we strongly feel creative marketing and business thinking will be critical in the successful businesses of 2008. This means generating, molding and reconfiguring. It’s adapting ideas as new trends arise or as old ways of doing business fall. Like our holiday card, it’s about re-envisioning things, which leads to mixing and matching pieces in order to constantly put new faces on opportunity.

To give you some insight into where you might apply your marketing and business creativity, we offer our view of critical trends coming.

Signs of Status
There is a huge rise in new wealth and disposable income around the world. This is driving the increased sale of the standard premium goods, but it’s also driving the need to rethink what constitutes luxury. As more people buy the same premium goods and brands, these premium offerings lose their status. Expect luxury goods to take on more outlandish forms and shapes, at ever-higher costs. Take the Prince of Saudi Arabia and his buying a $300MM Airbus , which will be turned into a 'flying palace' with three bedrooms, private lounges, bathrooms, offices, a steam bath and exercise machines.

More accessible is Evian's limited release of Palace bottled water, only available in high end bars and restaurants for $15-20 per bottle. Then there are luxury marshmallows from Dean & DeLuca, a 1-pound Boulé Marshmallow Sampler of lemon chiffon, passion fruit, vanilla and rose-petal flavors for $28. We can expect to see many more status icons in 2008 that touch all aspects of your day.

Trying on the New
The push for something exciting and new is not just about spending money. Society is pushing for expediency. There is a lust to have as many “experiences” as possible – to acquire new things more frequently, and then move on to newer things. Procter & Gamble’s Swash offers students dryer sheets, dewrinkling spray, stain-removing pens, odor-removing sprays and lint rollers that give their clothes the look and smell of having been washed without taking the trouble to actually do the washing. Wallstrip offers informal and easy to consume stock advice in a format that's familiar to viewers who watch YouTube instead of CNBC. 20 Minutes, a publication in Europe, which distributes more than 2.3 million copies every weekday, tailors its content to be read in 20 minutes. Adult FriendFinder, the "casual encounters" site , satisfies people’s craving for new, more expedient “relationships,” and draws over 19 million members. It’s clear to us that that people wake up expecting something different to be available to them each day, and if they don’t encounter it, they will seek it out. Creative companies everywhere are coming into being, or are adding products to meet these trends.

New Social Sets

And yes, speed and expediency includes faster ways to meet and relate. People are turning online to fulfill more and more of their lives, including socializing and human connectivity. We could fill a encyclopedia set with internet trends and illustrations of the way social networks are a driving force to be followed. Social networkers not only have a Facebook (link – facebook.com), Xing, Bebo, Linkedin or MySpace profile, but they also also spend time on smaller, more interest specific networking sites from Mesh Tennis to Yideoz to Goodreads to Trupoli to KLM Airlines' Club China. One thing to watch is social networks going local. Neighborhoods, streets and even apartment buildings are getting their own internet and intranet sites: not just to promote the many qualities they have to offer their (prospective) inhabitants, but also to provide communal interaction and localized services. LifeAt offers property managers a solution for launching a communities for their building. So far, over 335 buildings are participating in property websites that are private and password protected, for use by residents only. Also check out Neighborology, Neighbours.ie, and townconnect.com.

The list of major cultural movements is long, and it keeps growing with every month of discoveries, political shifts and inventions. The best way to ride change is to focus. Tackle whatever trend most closely influences you and your business and ride the new opportunities. And all the while, I suggest that you apply ultra-responsive customer service, customization, limitless variety, and a web-enabled community where there are no secrets, no memory loss and instant access to everything.

So with all this change, and all this potential, look creatively to the new year and envision your part in it. Keep in mind, your part will constantly be changing, and it will take all the awareness you can muster and guidance you can get.

Source credits including trendwatching.com, www.psfk.com, TrendHunter.com