And knowing what tomorrow’s consumers will be spending their money on is like gold dust. With the right foresight, you can get in first.
For decades, researchers have been working with marketing clients to better understand where markets are heading. The early adoption model is a tried and tested method of tapping into those consumers who will jump on the bandwagon first – those who will take up a new product the quickest, and ideally, influence others to gradually do the same. Unfortunately, this model relies on insight from the very consumers who, by their nature, can also be early abandoners – they like a new trend, they buy into it for a while, and then they drop it. This is a headache for brand managers and marketers – and it has taken a while to find an alternative method that has a more permanent worth.
A different approach is needed to deliver more forward-looking insight – a new model which, for the first time, identifies those who will shape the long-term future of a brand or market: the Future Shaper. Like early adopters, Future Shapers are the first to buy into a new product or trend – and if it’s up to scratch they are also loyal, focused on advocating products and brands to the mass marketplace. Future Shapers – as defined by TNS’ new FutureView™ – are ‘new consumers’ whose attitudes and behaviour put them at the forefront of some of the biggest macro-trends influencing global consumer behaviour. This deeper definition of future influence ensures that Future Shapers have an impact on markets in an ongoing, rather than merely transitory way.
The chart below identifies how powerfully Future Shapers can influence potential brand growth (or decline) and that there is a clear correlation between Future Shaper commitment and the overall growth of the brand.
Source: combined results from FutureView studies in 8 different packaged goods markets in Australia and New Zealand
TNS research has found that Future Shapers are 51 per cent more likely than Early Adopters to adopt a new product long term and recommend it to others.
Today’s ‘new consumers’ are savvier and more demanding than ever before. The rise in interactive and personal media, fuelled by blogging and social networking sites, is giving consumers the power to push back. They want brand owners to know exactly what they think of their product – and more than ever before, they have the power to shape a product or brand’s future success. The need to engage the new consumers that are also a brand’s Future Shapers, and ensure they are saying the right things about a product, is critical.
Future Shapers are defined by seven key characteristics of new consumerism:
- They value authenticity and originality in all that they buy and experience
- They are well informed and hugely involved in the products, services and brands they buy
- They are individualistic – doing things ‘my way’ and increasingly demanding companies do too
- They are time poor and value anything that saves them time
- They are socially responsible – and exercise their ethical awareness via their product and brand choices
- They are curious – open minded and receptive to new ideas
- They are advocates of new ideas – and they spread the word!
In Australia, we have identified a number of other key characteristics of the new consumer and Future Shapers in particular. We have found that Future Shapers not only spread the word about a brand but, once they endorse it, they will become active advocates. In fact, 93% of Future Shapers tell others about a product they like, compared to 64% of the rest of the population. They will often discuss products and brands they have seen recently with other people (95% vs. 54% of total population).
Perhaps most importantly, 92% of Future Shapers state that their family and friends will ask advice on what products and brands to buy (compared to 41% of the total population). These new consumers are therefore instrumental in spreading the buzz around a brand and have been crucial in the rise of technology brands that did not invest in ATL advertising spend when starting out; for example, YouTube and Google.
Across consumer categories, Future Shapers are into health and fitness. They are concerned about their weight and health (78% of Future Shapers compared to 62% of the rest of the population) and are well-informed about their dietary choices (77% of Future Shapers read nutritional labels compared to 32% of the rest). Seventy per cent of Future Shapers look out for new products to help maintain a healthy diet, compared to 29% of the total population.
This future shift to a more health-focused lifestyle has translated into growth for brands that are offering propositions to match. Take the low carbohydrate beer category for example. Foster’s helped establish a new category with the launch of Pure Blonde in 2005. The brand ticked all the right boxes: a much healthier proposition that is new and original yet maintains an ‘authentic beer’ message at the core. The success and phenomenal growth of this low carb beer soon sparked followers, with Lion Nathan launching Hahn Super Dry in 2006.
Another category that has successfully tapped into the future-proof need of health and combined it with authenticity is smoothies, the Nudie brand in particular.
Nudie developed a product and a brand presence that not only engaged those early adopters, who would likely buy into the brand for a while and then grow tired of it, but also reached those new consumers who embraced the innovative concept with open arms – and in turn took Nudie to the mass marketplace.
Nudie’s new consumers appreciated the brand’s drive to convey healthy living, its quirky, irreverent brand message and its superior taste – and as such have acted as ‘brand ambassadors’ for the product. These consumers have spread the positive message about Nudie through word of mouth to the broader market, and so the product has moved from being a niche brand appealing to the most forward-thinking consumers, to one that is a mainstream success, without the initial use of traditional advertising methods such as TV and print. TNS research shows that the well established, less healthy cousin of the smoothie, regular carbonated soft drinks, are in a much weaker position in the market:
Source: TNS FutureView study in Australia
Future Shaper characteristics represent opportunities for marketers to shape their brand communications to engage with this influential target audience. Measuring the factors that connect with these consumers – whether it be health messages, a quirky brand presence or something different – enables marketers to develop a concept that will engage potential brand ambassadors to go on and take the product to the mass market.
Intelligent market research in the consumer sphere is about indicating future potential for a product or brand, and tapping into the consumers that will influence its future success. The media landscape is changing, consumers are changing, and brands need to innovate to keep ahead of the game. The message is simple – identify those new consumers that can build the future of a brand, and the brand will have a future to be proud of.
Tuesday, August 28- 2007 @ 9:09 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.