Ten Trends Driving Consumers Toward Stability and Moderation

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For many, 2009 is an opportunity to evaluate what works internally and externally within green organizations and businesses, and to watch which consumer attitudes and trends prevail through the recession.  Natural Marketing Institute
(NMI) released an annual consumer trends report for 2009.  JP Collins, Sustainable Life Media notes:

  • Theme is "Recalibration."
  • Consumers are interested in "comfort, safety, sustainability and moderation."
  • One trend is from "alt to mainstream."

Posted Mar. 2009

By JP Collins, Sustainable Life Media

At the beginning of 2009, Natural Marketing Institute
(NMI) released its annual trends report for 2009. According to the
authors the overarching theme for 2009 is what they call
"Recalibration."

The report goes on to say that consumers are desiring "The
Middle Way" or in other words, revising lifestyles to reflect "comfort,
safety, sustainability and moderation." I've seen this first hand and
am experiencing it myself. Here in California we're faced with drought
along with the other national issues of economic turmoil,
transportation, how and where we do business and our carbon foot print.
All of these issues push us to conservation as well as a rethinking of
our core values as people.

In the next few months I'm going to choose one of the 10 trends
outlined in NMI's initial report and go into more depth and explore
these trends effect marketing to customers and how we do business in
general. But first let me just list the trends:

  1. Big changes through small steps
  2. Isolation to Affiliation
  3. Exploring, experiencing and learning
  4. Personal and planetary health combine
  5. Detoxification
  6. From alt to mainstream
  7. Going deeper
  8. Authentic Aesthetics
  9. Energy consciousness
  10. Quality over quantity

Big Changes Through Small Steps

According to NMI's research, consumers are beginning to make
prolonged lifestyle changes but are making those changes incrementally.
More people are shifting away from short-lived, New-Year's-Resolution
type schemes and moving toward more tangible steps to improve their
life, health and the health of their world.

Regardless of the reason, people are driving less to get to work, using
alternatives to commuting by car. Whether it's for health or reducing
fuel costs, people are walking, biking or taking transit to work. I've
noticed more bike riders on the street on my commute by bike.
Nationally, ridership on transit is up.
And in some cases people are moving into or closer to city centers to
take advantage of transit services not available in exurbs.

People are getting another hour of sleep and preparing meals at
home to improve their health. Of course the trend of cooking at home is
also driven by the economy. None the less the changes are real and are
part of the over-all trend. Restaurants are showing a decline in
revenue but grocery stores are picking up. More people are taking
classes on how to cook or are going back to cooking at home rather than
going out.

The trend of making long-term, incremental changes also ties in
with some of the other trends cited in the NMI study and with the
desire for more family time and the inclination to nest and nurture
that we've been seeing over the past few years.

On the Market(ing) and Business Side: What You Need to Know

Think about educating your customers and create opportunities
for consumers to take action. For instance, the content of packaging
can speak to a customer as much as what is printed on it. Create
packaging that is fully recyclable or compostable while informing your
customer about the cost/material savings and the impact of using such
packaging. The information on the package can send them to a web site
to learn more about the what, why and how they're making a positive
impact and how they can do more.

What is going on in the mainstream is what we've been seeing with the
LOHAS (Life Styles of Health And Sustainability) market for awhile.
Consumers are looking for sustainable, useful and practical products
and services that reflect where they see their values right now. An
authentic message is required here. Certainly marketers and advertising
have used home-spun nostalgia
in the past to sell products but those types of messages ring hollow in
today's market. Using a softer voice to sell reflects the appeal of
moderation with consumers right now.

__________

This column has been reprinted courtesy of JP Collins and Pylon Studios.

Pylon Studios is a
creative agency located in downtown San Francisco providing graphic
design and creative marketing services, and works with clients in the
LOHAS, Green Building and Renewable Energy markets. Pylon Studios is
certified by the San Francisco Department of the Environment as a green
business and is part of the Green America Green Business Network.

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