A Peek into 2012 Consumer Trends - for You and Santa

December 12, 2011

’Tis that time of year when prognosticators give a heads up to consumers as to what they can expect in the coming year. Learning what will be hot in 2012 just might help Santa – and you! – pick perfect gifts for friends and family.

For example, Santa will be gifting smart tablets and smartphones like crazy this year. If you’re one of the happy recipients, you’ll fit right in with the new Screen Culture. According to trendwatching.com, one of the world’s leading trend firms that sends monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers, screens will be even more ubiquitous/mobile/cheap/always on; interactive and intuitive (thanks to touchscreens, tablets, etc.); and an interface to everything and anything that lies beyond the screen i.e. the mobile Web and “the cloud.”

DIY Health is another trend to keep an eye on with a bevy of novel apps and devices that allow you to discreetly track and manage your health. While Apple’s App Store currently offers 9,000 mobile health apps – along with 1,500 cardio fitness aps, more than 1,300 diet apps, more than 1,000 stress and relaxation apps and more than 650 women’s health apps – by mid-2012 this number is expected to reach 13,000, according to MobilHealth News.

Consumers love getting a good deal and that’s why Dealer Chic is another trend to watch for in 2012 as more and more of us jump on the bandwagon. Watch for an even bigger “deal ecosystem,” more personalization and more loyalty schemes.

Eco-Cycology will be big in 2012 with major brands helping consumers recycle by taking back all old items and doing something constructive with them. For example, Dell – a BBB Accredited Business – runs Dell Reconnect in partnership with Goodwill Industries. The program allows users to take any brand of electronics to one of Goodwill’s 2,200-plus participating locations in the U.S. or Canada where they are refurbished or recycled.

Consumers can also expect businesses to be Flawsome. Trendwatching.com says brands that are “flawsome” are those “that are honest about their flaws, that show some empathy, generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humor and … some character and humanity.” Case in point: Dominos bought billboard space in Times Square during the month of July and live-streamed good and bad customer feedback given via Twitter.

Look for Recommerce to find its mark in 2012. Consumers will be trading in electronics, clothes and even experiences on new ones – just like you do with your vehicles. Another example of how this plays out: The Amazon Student app allows students to scan barcodes of books, DVDs, games and electronics that they own and see the trade-in price. If accepted, a shipping label is generated and the student receives funds in the form of an Amazon gift card. And DealsGoRound allows users to resell and buy past Groupon, LivingSocial and BuyWithMe deals. And StubHub app users can now resell and buy tickets at an event – without access to a printer.

And expect the now-ubiquitous QR code to continue full force as part of the Point & Know trend in 2012 – thanks to that smartphone that is always in your pocket or handbag. You’ll use Point & Know to gain information, price comparisons and reviews.

However, with new trends come new scams and opportunities to commit fraud.  So while you have fun with new technology, new products, new services, your BBB advises not to let down your guard. The mobile Web makes on-the-spot information a snap, but scam artists can now download malware onto your smartphone just as easily as they do on your desktop.

And it will continue to be important to check out a company – even if it’s to recycle electronics or clothing – before doing business to ensure it is trustworthy and reliable.

Don’t go a day without your BBB.  For more consumer information visit  newjersey.bbb.org or call 609-588-0808.