On April 12th Ad Fed hosted a sold-out event at International Market Square discussing: Trends that will Shape the World in 2012 and Beyond. The speaker was Ann Mack, Director of Trendspotting for J. Walter Thompson (JWT),  one of the world’s largest and best-known marketing communications brands. Below are the top ten key trends that brands will need to understand in the years ahead.

1. Navigating the New Normal

The “New Normal” is the austerity measures people are taking because of the recent recession. People are cutting back on spending in many areas. One way brands are addressing that is packaging products in smaller packages and stripping out some of the former features. Examples: smaller SKUs of packaged goods at a lower price point.

2. Little indulgences

Little indulgences are taking the place of spending on the bigger things. Because of the recent recession, people want to live a little. Perhaps they can not afford a new car but they will pay $10 for a tube of department store lipstick or nail polish or “live a little” by buying a couple pieces of really good chocolate.

3. Generation Go

Young people today do not want to be stifled by corporate bureaucracy. Many college grads today can not find jobs.  So many Millennials are making their own jobs by starting companies such as Facebook, Living Social, Foursquare, Drop Box, Quora just to mention a few high profile companies started by people under 30.

4. Rise of Shared Value

Big brands are taking more responsibility with helping the underserved and underprivileged. Some brands are building social responsibility into their brand. Examples would be Finnegan’s beer , TOMS shoes and Whole Foods.

5. Environmental Impact of Food

What is good for you is good for the environment. There is more awareness of green best practices, and how it affects our food production. This has been manifested in the rise of organics and the local food movement. One example includes: New Yorkers enjoying fresh vegetables from the local rooftop farmers.

6. Marriage Optional

Women are redefining what “happily ever after” means. Because they have enjoyed more upward mobility in the workplace and have lost the social stigma of having children outside of marriage, young women are putting off getting married until much later.

7. Re Engineering Randomness

With Google knowing where we go on the web and Facebook and Linkedin making friend and  connection suggestions, we have lost the randomness of days gone by.  People are seeking unfiltered searches on the web and are finding people of similar interests at local Meet-up groups.  Brands are now connecting with people in more random ways.

8. More Screen Interactions

There are more touch screens for everyday behavior (iPads, ATMs, smart phones). Flat screen technology now allows us to order and pay for food in a restaurant, shop and dine at the same time. We will continue to see more gesture based technology to attract consumer attention.

9. Celebrate Aging

Baby boomers are taking a more positive view of growing older. They are looking forward to living two or three decades past age 65. Sixty is the new Fifty. Assumptions about age are changing with people having children later, grandparents becoming more active and tech savvy. Today’s young people are seeing parents more as role models and that is helping to bridge the generation gap.

10. Objectifying Objects

So many physical objects have become digital (music, documents, files, photos etc). There is a nostalgic feeling about what those things used to be.  Vinyl records, photo albums, scrapbooks and wristwatches have made a come back because of their old meaningful traditions.

These are ten trends that will be shaping our world in 2012 and beyond. Ann’s presentation got us, as marketing professionals, thinking about how to convert these trends into opportunities for both our own brands and the brands of our clients.

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