Four key consumer trends to keep your eye on in 2012

technology

Most savvy business owners are well aware of the way the technological world is changing, and the impact that it’s having on the way we do business.  In less than 7 years, Facebook went from a college start-up to a global phenomenon of more than 800 million people, and Apple managed to get over 25 million iPads into the market in less than 13 months.  We’re more connected, in more mobile and social ways than ever before.

To launch the New Year, professional services giant KPMG conducted The Converged Lifestyle survey, a global research project that revealed some very important trends that will impact business life in 2012.  You can read the report in its entirety here, but here’s some of the top findings, and how they will impact small business owners across Australia and New Zealand.

Landline phones are still relevant

While landline phones are on the decline, the rate of abandonment is incredibly slow.  Just 4% of respondents eliminated their landline in 2011, and over 80% of people surveyed around the world still believe it’s important.  ‘Landlines continue to be relevant for traditional reasons such as reliability and security’ says Carl Geppert of KPMG, both traits that successful businesses are generally associated with.  Key take away?  Maintain the landline for now, and if you’re out of the office often, simply divert it to your mobile.

The PC isn’t dead…just yet.

Over 80% of respondents still rated a computer as their preferred method to browse the web, shop online and email, but its dominance is on the decline as smart phones and tablets continue to rise.  There’s also been a significant rise on the number of people using smart phones in store to compare prices and feature.  This should be a clear call to all business owners to check their website’s compatibility across all platforms (it needs to look pretty and be functional on smart phones, tablets and PC’s), and to keep a very close eye on prices and offerings of both global and local competitors.  You’re not just competing with the businesses on your street anymore…today’s consumer has access to a global marketplace.

Security matters!

Over 90% of respondents in the survey voiced some level of concern about the security of their personally identifiable information (PII), an increase from the same survey in 2010.  In a world of spam, and increasingly savvy computer hackers, brands that are able to gain consumer trust will reap the benefits.  Make sure you’re communicating the ways in which you are protecting your customer’s details online, particularly if you’re an online retailer.  Display the logos of the security and encryption systems you use, and if you’re collecting customer data, make sure you’re transparent about that fact that you will not disclose or sell details.  There’s no such thing as being overly cautious when it comes to your customer’s security!

Social sites and websites are partners, not competitors.

While a massive 86% of consumer spend time on social networking sites every day and a third admit they are influenced by a brand’s social activity, half still look to a company’s official website for recommendations and information when making a purchase decision.  So make sure you’re covering your bases!  In much the same way as you would run a TV advertising campaign across multiple channels and multiple times, your online campaign should cross multiple platforms to ensure you’re reaching out to all of your customer’s touch points.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking a Facebook Page can replace a website.  Websites and social assets work together to build your brand’s online reputation, not in place of each other.  (and if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get your brand online in 2012, don’t forget to check out MYOB Atlas…which is also being launched to our New Zealand readers in a few short months!)

 

| Online Editor – MYOB