Trends That Will Shape 2010

Earlier this month the Minnesota AMA hosted a presentation by two consumer strategists from Iconoculture, a consumer research and advisory company that "integrates consumer information from multiple data sources and combines it with expert interpretation and analysis by the industry’s largest Advisory Services team to produce targeted insights."

Located in downtown Minneapolis, but with a global reach, having a company like this in your backyard is definitely a bonus and the insights that came from there presentation were definitely valuable to any business person, not just marketers.  The presentation focused on eight big ideas for 2010, with comparisons to their previous "big ideas" and predictions of how these will shift in the year(s) ahead.

And here, direct from Iconoculture is a quick summary of the eight big ideas divided out by some key values as they delivered them in the presentation.


  • Big Idea 1: The Face of Recovery — Consumers are taking note of who won, who lost and what the “new normal” looks like. Some have become forever-savers, some will return to big-spending ways when better times are back again.
  • Big Idea 2: Social Media Scale-Back — Consumers’ growing awareness of the transparent nature of their online lives has them keeping a much closer eye on their digital footprint. That doesn't mean they're willing to live as cyber shut-ins. But it does mean that savvy consumers are now in the process of deciding what degree of personal disclosure and social-net activity they can deal with.
  • Big Idea 3: Indulgence Offsetting — Sin is in, as long as it’s balanced by something positive. The Great Recession has rendered over-the-top expressions of luxury gauche. Yet consumers are still rewarding themselves, employing strategies ranging from permissible and rationalized indulgence to simplified and responsible acts of pampering.


  • Big Idea 4: Not Gonna Take It — Sigg. BPA. E. coli. Tea parties. TARP rage. To put it simply, people have some edge to their attitudes. But in 2010, that won’t mean futile stewing. Citizen-consumers are feeling empowered to tap the crowd for power and change.
  • Big Idea 5: Recontouring Commerce — Consumers (a.k.a. the new R&D team) are working with retailers and peers to shape their shopping experiences, upending the traditional business/shopper dynamic. Giving direct (solicited) feedback to companies is accompanied by an even more subversive twist: relying on swaps to work outside the system altogether.


  • Big Idea 6: Multiracial Rising — Entering the second decade of the 21st century, we can firmly assert that we're living in a multiracial America. The growing demographic is enhancing, complicating and changing U.S. culture. People of multiracial descent are making their issues known, while policymakers and marketers are attempting to understand them. We can help.
  • Big Idea 7: So Healthy Together — Unemployment and volatile change in health care has the topic of health at the top of people’s minds. A cultural shift is happening as consumers are increasingly forced to accept personal and community responsibility for their own well-being. An alternative/prevention mode will trump doc-outsourcing in 2010.


  • Big Idea 8: Water We Wasting This For — Water-sustainability savvy is mainstreaming, thanks to successful media campaigns and droughts at the local level. From the chemical dangers of drinking water to the inefficiency of water use in product manufacturing, “blue gold” is one hot topic for consumers.

Interestingly, their press release shows a ninth big idea, that was not presented at our session:

  • Big Idea 9: Simplicity Speaks Volumes — The penchant for the simple life is trickling down to product packaging, yet consumers have ever greater expectations for complete information (about ingredients, manufacturing, provenance, safety, and more). In 2010, watch for the rising importance of clutter-clearing on labels without violating a consumer’s right to know.

To me big idea 5 was really striking—how consumers are directly able to define where a brand goes and to deliver feedback to a business. Companies need to be more and more responsive, and need to get better at listening to consumers, not just talking/marketing to them. On that note, what do you think of these big ideas?

More pictures and speaker bios are available at the MN AMA website. Also check out Iconoculture's blog, Iconowatch.