It’s Really True: Market Responses Follow Consumer Trends

Posted by Alice Greene on 8/8/16 1:57 PM, Last updated 04/29/2017
Alice Greene
What do PayPal and UPMC and Khizr Khan all have in common? Among many others, and in very high profile ways, these three have proven out some of our 2016 top consumer trends predictions.

PayPal, in scrapping its plans for a new operations center in North Carolina (with 400 new jobs), was one of many organizations to harshly rebuke the state for its exclusionary legislation regarding Gender Fluid public-bathroom users. The massive backlash, also issued by the likes of Pearl Jam and Cirque du Soleil, both canceling shows, and the NBA, moving its All-Star game from the state, reinforced our rationale in advising organizations of all types to understand and embrace Gender Fluidity as a major new trend. Those who do can inspire the opposite response. Check out #DarleneForTSAEmployeeOfTheYear–the kind of spontaneous post that Customer Experience professionals crave–as an example of Single Millennial Women Trends Spending.jpghow “getting it” can pay off.

UPMC followed the City of Pittsburgh itself in addressing what we called the Wage War trend, when it announced this year that it will increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour. And wages are front-and-center for politicians wooing Premium Singles, for whom equal pay is a top-5 issue in choosing a candidate, according to a recent refinery29/ABC News poll. The pollsters say, “Young single women are suddenly among the most talked-about voters in America.” Combine that with the New York Magazine cover story on the single American Woman, and we’re feeling pretty prophetic!

Also issuing impact on the national stage are our Muslim American fellow citizens, in the person of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq who took center stage at the Democratic National Convention and have been garnering lots of media attention. An outpouring of support for the Khans has reinforced our Melting Pot Muslim American U.S. citizens trendsMarket trend, which identifies the importance of understanding the U.S. Muslim population. We noted that, while it is the fastest growing religion, and Pew Research has shown that Muslims living in the U.S. are well-integrated into American society and do not hold extremist views.

In a less high-profile example of the trend, the U.S. Census Bureau just announced its plan to offer questionnaires in Arabic, now the fastest-growing language in the U.S., attributable in part to the growing Muslim population. Apparently, this is no easy feat: Since Arabic is written right-to-left, the census form’s questions should be aligned on the right side of the page. Also, the instructions indicate that respondents should use an “X” to mark a checkbox, but in Arabic, an “X” holds connotations of a response being incorrect or not applicable, while a check mark is more culturally appropriate. The bureau is looking into allowing the use of check marks in future surveys and censuses.

Incorporating market trends into your organization’s strategies and tactics is certainly not always easy and frequently requires a deep understanding of how they interact with your product or service. Could your offering tap into the more nuanced nature of authenticity today, as expressed in our Real Deal trend, or take advantage of the Lightweighting movement? While all of the above were in our forecast at the beginning of this year, these and other trends remain extremely relevant. Some prove out to be true flash points, and they are rarely flash-in-the-pan.

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images: Dmytro Kozlov & New York Magazine (cover)

Topics: Trends, Market Research

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