Editor’s Notes: Trends Not to Ignore
When I was editor of Inside Direct Mail, I kept my eye out for trends in the mailstream. And there have been many to see throughout the years: vouchers, double postcards, repositionable notes, oversize efforts, billboards, magalogs. But mailstream trends aren’t the only ones worth noting these days. Cultural trends also can be worth consideration when crafting direct marketing messages. Given that consumers expect advertising and marketing to reflect their personal tastes and lifestyles—even their particular aspirations—copy and imagery must keep pace with these developing trends.
A whitepaper on mega-trends from brand consultancy Hiebing crossed my desk a few months back, and it identified eight cultural distinctions that are shaping how consumers think about the world and themselves. I found the following three particularly interesting:
1. Individualism. It’s no surprise that consumers expect to control access to content (TiVo, iPods, the Internet) and play a bigger role in the development and sharing of information (MySpace, YouTube), but their desire to be unique also goes hand in hand with their need to be part of a community. Sounds a little like the 1980s, when being punk was about as counterculture as you could get, and yet there was a punk community that was as exclusionary as its yuppie counterparts.
2. Thirty is the New 20. Since I’m a thirtysomething, I have to say that I love this trend. Just because I, like others of my generation, spent my 20s focusing on my career and dithering about how I wanted to spend the rest of my life doesn’t mean that I’ve wasted a decade. Since we’re all in the same boat, we’ve redefined the traditional process into adulthood. So keep in mind that while many thirtysomethings might be married, they probably don’t have kids who have outgrown footy pajamas, yet.
3. Retirement Defied. If people in their 30s feel as if time stood still for a decade, perhaps it’s because most boomers—as reported by AARP—consider themselves seven years younger than their true age. This generation set out to change the world, and so its members do not expect to give up the driver seat just because they’re passing a milestone age or two. Nor do they desire to look as if they’re aging. As copywriting/creative genius Herschell Gordon Lewis pointed out in his Creative Master Class at the recent DMA06 Conference & Exhibition, you want to use models that are slightly younger than the actual age of your boomer and senior audiences to get good response.