Monday, June 21, 2010

How Do Your Customers Define Status?

Been a little late on my summaries. This is from May/June 2010

Look at the types of status that are important to consumers. Which ones would work with your library? What would your library do to promote yourselves as a "vendor" of these kinds of status?

"Like it or not, the need for recognition and status is at the heart of every consumer trend*. Status is the ultimate (hidden) motive, a subconscious but ever-present force."

Trendwatching has found that luxury is no longer the only status symbol. In fact, there is an entire STATUSPHERE to be explored.

As consumers are starting to recognize and respect fellow consumers who stray off the beaten consuming-more-than-thou-path, 'new' status can be about acquired skills, about eco-credentials, about generosity, about connectivity... All of this makes for a far more diversified 'STATUSPHERE' than most brands and organizations have traditionally catered to. Time to really figure out how and where your customers are now finding their status fix.

Traditional consumption is about buying (and enjoying and showing off) more and/or better stuff than fellow consumers. We’ve dubbed this the BIGGER, BETTER, HARDER realm. Which is by no means dead.

And even if (a big if) conspicuous consumption were ever to subside significantly in mature consumer societies, then count on the emerging middle classes in China, India, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Nigeria, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil to pick up the slack.

Status Stories
...when it comes to experiences, status can only be derived from being seen by others—while experiencing the experience, which may be a relatively brief moment—or by telling others about the experiences afterwards (which can go on for years ;-). experiences and non-consumption-related expenditures take over from physical (and more visible) status symbols, consumers will increasingly have to tell each other stories to achieve a status dividend from their purchases. Expect a shift from brands telling a story, to brands helping consumers tell their own status-yielding stories to other consumers.

Generosity - Generation G is still going strong as a status symbol
Now, one of the most important drivers behind GENEROSITY is the collaborative/free /creation/crowdsourced/gift/ sharing movement that—especially online—has unlocked in entirely new ways the perennial need of individuals to feel part of the greater good, to contribute, to help. But the online world of course also makes it easy to showcase and share one's acts of altruism.

The status-implications for non-profit organizations, and B2C brands big on giving initiatives? Work harder on helping your consumer-donors show and tell others about their donations and contributions!

Green Credentials and Consumption
Consumers' interest in green credentials will lead to even more eco-friendly goods and services sporting bold, iconic markers and design, that help their eco-conscious owners show off their eco-credentials to their peers.

Also count on a massive increase in green stories (as told by consumers) (see Status Stories above:) detailed information on (eco-friendly) sourcing, production, ingredients and distribution all represents a potential benefit to consumers who are keen on sharing their green status stories. And the concept is extra attractive for service providers, who often don't have physical products with which to convey their eco credentials.

By the way, what will make green stories even more powerful is the fact that while each individual can ‘do their bit’ on the environmental issues, their actions are going to be wasted unless everybody else does the same. (See Generation G above) This gives individuals a great excuse to share their stories and to enjoy a status boost from occupying the moral high ground.

In The Know Skills
To be on the inside, to be in the know, to have access, to be knowledgeable, but also, to be able to lead the way to the unique, the avant-garde, the cool, the latest, the cutting-edge... This is now an established source of status, from consumers-turned-experts, to younger audiences obsessed with coolhunting.

Anything you as a brand can do to assist the pursuit of deep or trivial knowledge will be appreciated. As long as the content is of superior quality, of course

We're talking friends on Facebook, Twitter followers and Retweets, the number of views for a photo on Flickr or a video on YouTube. These are all symbols and numbers that are associated with one’s social status and that can be shared instantly and on a potentially large scale in the CONNECTIVITY realm.

This will then lead to an even-bigger need for consumers to 'feed', maintain, and improve their online presence with a steady stream of content: thoughts, photos, videos, songs, opinions, stories and so on.

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