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These new expectations and values will shaped by global economics, technology itself, and social change. How this change takes place will be defined by what people value enough to pay for, how their values are changing, and how technology and service providers can respond to this profitably.
Research company Gartner has identified 10 big trends for the next decade that will change the way we all view tech.
1. The Great Depression, Part 2: Consumer confidence and the new normal
Consumer tech markets are being redefined by a new set of expectations and values shaped by global economics. In mature markets, many people have cut back on spending in the wake of successive financial crises. Gartner notes, however, that consumers seem to put a higher value on media and communications products in tough economic times as they cut back on more-expensive substitutes. Tough times create “buyer’s markets,” meaning that tech companies must adjust to these new expectations. This involves switching to more recession-friendly marketing messages, a greater range of “affordable” or “value” product options, making more of an effort with customer engagement, and improving people’s experiences with their products.
2. A new ‘Digital Divide’ is emerging
Given the pace at which tech accelerates, savvy consumers expect regular and increasingly frequent product upgrades. Over time, there has been a closing of the classic “digital divide” between the haves and have-nots in terms of access to basic technology products and services. However, new digital divides have opened up, especially inequalities in relation to the social graph and people’s ability to access and manage — or not manage — the real-time, non-stop ubiquitous connectivity they are exposed to on a daily basis.
New tech should in theory give people more spare time to do the things they want. In reality, they experience the reverse. Therefore, the most valuable product that companies can deliver is extra time in the day to do things that they want or need to get done. Products that help with productivity and are pleasurable to use are guaranteed sellers in this regard.
3. Tech is about to become a lot more female friendly
The consumer tech market is set to start making and marketing a lot more products to women. This makes sense, given that they’re the market’s single biggest demographic. At the moment women are underrepresented in key job roles within the technology and media sectors. Gartner reckons this is a missed opportunity given that women typically control from 70 to 80% of household spending, including big-ticket items such as computers, cars and houses. The company says that if companies want to take advantage of this, they need to invest in getting women into key positions.
4. Goodbye consumer power, hello the power customer
When it comes to shopping, technology has given people more power and more information at their fingertips than ever before. Dealing with empowered consumers makes life more challenging for brands. But any company prepared to invest in meeting the demands of power customers has the chance to stand out from the crowd. Gartner thinks Technology brands need to radically reassess and improve the way they deal with customers, especially when it comes to after-sales and technical support.
5. Social is an information lifeline
People are increasingly turning to social networks for news and information and away from mainstream media. This means that the news itself progressively being reconstructed around social media channels. The news media has to be able to get its message across using social, mobile and interactive channels. Social media will continue to change the relationships between people and brands as well as business models.
6. Humanity 2.0: People are the next “Killer App”
The way we use technology is fundamentally changing the way we behave as consumers. The consumer tech market won’t only grow over the next decade, people will spend more money on tech, and new markets will be created. Technology companies have to anticipate changes in consumer behaviour early if they want to stay credible and relevant. They should not, however forget late-adopter who, after all make up two-thirds of the market and should consider developing products that act as a bridge between the two.
7. People’s trust needs to be renegotiated
Bank failures, government collapse, corruption, economic and civil unrest and the disruption to previously accepted “norms” (such as local communities and nuclear families) mean people are searching for new brands, values and social organisations that they can trust. Brands that help their customers through hard times can build this trust and profit from it.
8. People don’t just want to buy online
More and more people are shopping online but it won’t always be enough for them. Retail stores will still be big revenue generators for some time to come, and the importance of online channels depends on the product. People don’t think about what platform they’re shopping on, they just shop, and retailers, therefore, need to make the experience as integrated and seamless as possible. .
9. Complexity is dead
People are becoming progressively less tolerant of complexity. Although people want products with ever-richer features, they want those features to be given to them as simply and intuitively as possible. The success of the iPhone is testament to this. The message is straightforward: Keep it simple. That applies to technology, pricing, brand messaging, and feedback and interaction. People should be able to set up any new piece of tech they buy from the comfort of their own home with as little fuss as possible.
10. Middle class is about to become very mainstream
The focus of innovation and consumption is shifting to emerging economies. By 2030, China will have world’s most rapidly aging population, aging faster than Germany or Japan and, by that time, India will be world’s youngest in terms of population trajectory. Both of these countries also have rapidly growing middle class populations. Class matters to brands because the middle classes tend to control a disproportionate share of the national income and make brand choices based on factors other than price. Tech companies are going to have to increase their emerging markets focus. This includes ensuring they have the right people to help them understand local needs and preferences, and applying those to the broader innovation process and strategy.