Eight new trends to change your life
New trends emerge in the business world every year, some shaping consumer habits, others influencing the way firms trade or are managed. What can we expect for 2011? How will businesses – global or small, franchises – home-based, part-time or flexible, homeworkers, employers and workers be affected? Mark Williams, spoke to trendwatchers, businesses and experts to find out what opportunities and challenges await business owners over the next 12 months. This article has appeared in HSBC’s newsletter, Connections.
Consumer preference driving product innovation
Products tailored for emerging economies
"An increasing number of Western brands are launching new products/brands especially for emerging BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, China] markets, with China the most favoured. Big businesses are leading the way, with examples including Levi's Denizen Jeans targeting Asia/China, where consumers want slimmer fits; Dior's Shanghai Blue Phone, which is only available in Shanghai; and Hermes, with its Shang Xia luxury brand, available only in China."
The rise of 'eco-superior' products
"Expect a rise in 'eco-superior' products - not only eco-friendly, but superior to less eco-friendly incumbents in every way. This could be a combination of superior design, functionality and savings. Eco-superior products and services are the only way to overcome consumer hesitation about having to pay more for something that is at best equal to cheaper, yet less-green, alternatives."
Reinier Evers is the founder of Trendwatching
Firms get a stronger grip on new technology
'Location aware' marketing
"Thanks to the rise of smartphones, many of us now possess fairly sophisticated GPS devices. The key trend will be location-based activities, and the potential for cross-channel promotions and marketing is huge. Applications such as Facebook with its 'Places' feature, Gowalla and Foursquare are already becoming adopted by the masses and I fully expect business to capitalise on the opportunities these provide within the next 12 months."
Smarter data management
"Many small and medium-sized enterprises are becoming more aware of their data. The past five years has seen a rise of 'software as a service' applications and many of these are owned, maintained and developed by small firms who themselves have been going out of business - often taking important data down with them. A key trend will be savvier data ownership and access by business owners."
Benjamin Dyer is the director of product development for e-commerce software developer Actinic
Employers have to adapt to workplace challenges
"The default retirement age of 65 is being phased out from October 2011, which has major implications for employers. They will have to become more skilled at managing more mature workers, which could mean allowing some to 'down-shift'. Decisions made about retirement will have to be fair and consistent, of course."
Supportive management to combat uncertain morale
"The Government's austerity measures will have a big impact next year. Economic conditions in 2011 are likely to remain tough, which means employers will have to keep staff motivation and morale high. A lot of it comes down to effective people management, which is crucial during times of change and uncertainty. Employers must support employees through this and safeguard their health and well-being, too."
Ben Willmott is an employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
Cost pressure goes on, managing resources is all
Spending cuts take hold
"2010 brought dramatic changes in raw material costs in many sectors in the UK - double-digit increases on some occasions, with little or no notice. That's unlikely to change in 2011, which will generate considerable cost pressures for manufacturers and consumers, as spending cuts start to take hold, tax rises come into force and VAT increases."
Preparing for the 2012 Olympics
"Management of resources, protection of margins and balancing continued investment in skills will be key for many businesses in 2011 to ensure momentum is maintained and resources are primed for the challenges and opportunities the 2012 Olympics will behold."
Chris Buckenham is the finance director of Northamptonshire-based CRP Print and Packaging
*HSBC’s Starting a Franchise guide has more information on the planning and research required to start a franchise. Free copies are available to download for www.hsbc.co.uk/franchise or contact HSBC's franchise team at firstname.lastname@example.org