Macro Societal Trends Impacting Innovation Revealed

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Seven macro trends that will shape product and service innovation have been released by Dragon Rouge, the international brand and design consultancy

Dragon Rouge, the international brand consultancy, unveiled the seven macro-societal trends that will shape product and service innovation in the next year.

"These trends march along a continuum from rebuilding a better society to escaping from the one already here. They indicate that there is ample opportunity for brands and innovators to capture consumer attention with products and services that help them address their worries," said Eric Zeitoun, president of Dragon Rouge.

Dragon Rouge monitors macro-trends over micro-trends, since they can give a better indication of the long-term impact that political, economic and socio-cultural events can have over consumers' attitudes and behaviors. This is the second year that the brand consultancy has issued its report in the US.

1.    Re-act - Consumers are now focusing their ethics around the idea of 'meaningful consumption'. They believe that any purchase occasion gives them an opportunity to make a clear statement about the values that are meaningful to them, and help re-build an environment, whether it is their own body, their family, their community or the world at large. 'Green activism', which represents a sub-set of this trend, has evolved to incorporate technological cues (e.g. new Method refills).
2.    Me and My Ego - "Ego-spirituality" drives consumers to build mysterious personal rituals to help them manage their fear of the unknown and accelerate their way out of an economic and moral crisis. They look for products and services that deliver multi-sensorial experiences, and avoid materialism. From a design perspective, this gets expressed through a combination of dark undertones and deep, mysterious imagery and color schemes.
3.    Foundations -Fundamental societal values (restraint, heritage) and historic symbols and personalities (such as Abraham Lincoln) give consumers the means to counter greed, extreme individualism and perceived decadence, which are seen as the root causes of our current issues. That's why many innovative products are now re-inventing history by combining modern and classical design cues.
4.    Euphoria -Consumers increasingly resort to irreverence and respectful disobedience to carry their hope for a better tomorrow. Their attitude towards life and consumption is tongue-in-cheek, and they look to bold colorful offerings to help them escape. For instance certain brands increasingly feature the root of the problem rather than the expected benefit on the front of their packaging, or use unexpected design cues to provoke a sense of irreverence.
5.    Simply Better -Simplicity has become a new standard of perfection. Consumers are turning to offerings that help simplify their lives (functionally and emotionally) because simplicity helps them regain control in their lives. Simplicity has also become a guarantee of quality since it is perceived as a symbol of objectivity and transparency.
6.    Schizophrenia -Virtual tools help people escape while they encourage them to experiment and reinvent themselves. This sense of freedom fuels a desire for personal recognition, customization and instant gratification. Successful innovation will therefore continue to invite consumers to experiment on their own terms their relationship vis a vis a given product.
7.    Yes we can - Consumers perceive that societal turbulence is announcing a new world order that will challenge uniform globalization. This new phase will be about co-existence, re-interpretation of local cultures, with transparency and accountability.

These macro trends reveal the ambiguity of consumers who carry inner tensions and contradictions in their purchase decision-making process. For instance, while 'Re-Act', 'Foundations' and 'Simply Better' indicate consumers would like to re-build their societies, 'Me & My Ego', 'Euphoria' and 'Schizophrenia' invite them to escape or rebel against them. To shift the paradigm in their own marketplace, innovators and marketers should think about identifying which macro trend(s) defines the current center of gravity of their brand target or of their industry, and project what this reality could look like through the lens of the opposite macro trend(s).

To identify trends, an internal group of trend watchers across Dragon Rouge's worldwide offices identifies early signs of macro-societal shifts by investigating key changes in early-adopting industries such as fashion, cosmetics, entertainment and design at large. These industries are usually first to mirror changes in society because of their relatively short life cycles. Therefore consumer brands that innovate through the lens of these macro trends can stay ahead of their consumers' evolving mindsets and create today innovative products that will be relevant tomorrow.

Dragon Rouge is the largest independent brand and design consultancy with offices in New York, Dubai, Hamburg, London, Paris and Warsaw. The firm shapes brands along their entire life cycle (from innovation to creation) by applying its philosophy of entrepreneurial branding. Entrepreneurial branding is a mindset that recognizes that marketers need to challenge the status quo in order to create long-standing value creation.

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