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Martel et Compagnie
465 rue McGill, 8e Etage
Montreal, Quebec H2Y 2H1
+514 525 4290

Jean-Pierre Martel

President & Chief Creative Officer


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HumanKind 2012: The Transformation of Aspiration

Where is America headed? What lies ahead for brands next year?

These are just some of the key questions Leo Burnett Chicago considered in developing a forecast of behavioral trends called HumanKind 2012, led by Chief Strategy Officer Stephen Hahn-Griffiths.

What’s apparent from the learning is that we’re beginning to see a profound change in the cultural fabric of society and the emergence of a different kind of Big Life Plan.

It’s a new kind of America – where men stay at home, women win the bread, and nearly 40 percent of all children are born to a single mom. In short, it’s the “The Transformation of Aspiration.”

Below are six key trends brands and marketers should embrace in order to successfully engage with today’s consumer.

Sense of fairness declines, happiness inequality rises:

Americans as a population have traditionally been optimistic and happy. Even during the years leading up to the recession everyone was happy, regardless of social class. Since the economic downturn, that’s all changed. Americans are unhappier than ever, especially those with lower incomes. Feelings of inequality and unfairness are rampant and continue to dwindle

Implication for brands: This year’s winning brands will be those that consistently deliver acts of fairness and behave with morality. A company that treats all customers fairly will earn Americans’ trust and patronage.

The average American family is anything but:

Finish school, get a job, get married, have a family. That plan still exists, but only for some. Forty percent of kids are born to an unmarried mother. More couples have children out of wedlock. People define their own family situation and shape their lives according to their own needs, not their peer group.

Implication for brands: Popular media is slow to catch up to the changing American family. Diverse images of family ring true with consumers and can be a great way to show how your brand fits in to today’s reality. Men evolve as masculinity declines:

The universal archetype of masculinity is over. The old rules that define a man’s role in the home and office do not apply in today’s world. Women are out-earning their husbands and men accept this. In fact, 77 percent of all men are comfortable with their wives earning more than them and 72 percent are okay with staying home to take care of the children.

Implication for brands: Speak with caution when referring to traditional views of masculinity. Focus instead on shaping identities and transforming individuals, not a specific gender.

Healthy is in the eye of the beholder:

Despite the rising obesity crisis, food remains an affordable luxury – a way to treat oneself when being forced to cut back in other ways. Forty-seven percent of Americans say they would like for restaurants to offer healthier items, but only 23 percent actually order those items. When given the choice between a burger or a salad, consumers see more value in the satisfaction of eating a burger than a salad, especially on a tight budget.

Implications for brands: Regardless if you are in the food industry, think about how to satisfy consumers’ desire for smaller, bite sized luxuries. A small amount of satisfaction can go a long way.

Collective bargaining is a weapon of survival:

Daily deal giants such as Groupon and LivingSocial have paved the way for Americans to score deals on everything and anything. People don’t expect or want to pay full price ever again and collectively demand better deals and offerings in the palm of their hand, each morning.

Implication for brands: Integrate daily deals with customer loyalty programs. To compensate for downward pressure on margins, daily deal technology needs to segment customers that are already bargaining and offer more personalized deals to heavy users.

Social/mobile technology: abandon the novel, embrace the practical:

There will be 20 million new smartphone users in 2012. These users want to leverage social platforms and mobile in their shopping and buying repertoire, but they need mobile and social to add value, not noise. Implication for brands: To activate shoppers through social and mobile marketers need to identify the problems shoppers are trying to solve and provide informed solutions. Brands that don’t provide practical experiences will be ignored.