Posted by: brandextenders | December 13, 2010

Some Trends to Be Aware of in 2011

Sisyphus & his rock

I’ve often said to friends, in my next life I want to come back as a TV weatherman because they make a lot of money, they’re wrong at least half the time and they never seem to get fired. What a gig! Then I got to thinking, what if I could be a psychic weatherman? Now how cool would that be? I went to a supposed psychic once and although it was interesting, I’m not sure how accurate she was and I’ve never sought their advice since. Experts say we all have psychic abilities to one degree or another and that with work we can sharpen them like musical skills.  

Although I’m not a psychic I do like to prognosticate each year on future trends in those areas I work in and below are thoughts on five trends for 2011.

  • Cotton Prices. I wrote a blog recently on why the price of cotton has been steadily rising based on high demand and a lack of supply due to droughts, floods and bad weather in China, India, Pakistan and the U.S., the four biggest producers. Prices are up almost 80% since July and analysts don’t think supply will catch up to demand for at least two years. As a result not only will you see substantial price increases in corporate apparel, but also in retail store brands. You’ll also begin to see more blends of cotton with man-made fibers to keep costs down in all areas of apparel as well as fewer buttons and other components that add to the price. In the long run, fashion experts worry new generations will be more accepting of synthetic fabrics which could hurt cotton’s overall market share along with the industry and jobs built around it.
  • Inventory. As demand for products dropped over the last few years due to the recession companies reduced their inventory levels substantially to save cash. As demand began to pick up this year though the reduced levels left many buyers, in both the promotional products and retail worlds, angry their orders couldn’t be filled. In 2011 this trend will continue to be a problem as manufacturers work to balance demand vs. inventory levels knowing production times to restock shelves has increased substantially. If you’re purchasing quantities of promotional products in 2011, be prepared with several alternatives in case you find the product you want is out-of-stock. Planning ahead for your needs and ordering early will also help ensure the products you choose will be in stock. Also be aware that China basically closes during the month of February to celebrate their New Year and nothing will be produced or shipped during that time. This means if you want something produced and imported from overseas, even if you ordered today, it most likely would be March before you’ll have it in hands.
  • Social Media. It’s been around long enough now where people and businesses are taking social media seriously. Facebook is not, in and of itself social media nor is Twitter or LinkedIn, digg, Foursquare or the myriad of other sites. Social media is all of these and more and in 2011 the brands that “get it” will start tying all of their media/social media together.  People and brands that are only out to promote themselves will be pushed aside by those looking to connect and share their knowledge and expertise with others of like mind. Mobile applications (apps) will become more robust as more than 50% of the American population will be carrying smart phones; essentially miniature computers that marketers can tap into with permission. QR codes, those strange 2D barcode symbols will begin to be more common on everything from apparel, posters, signs, point-of-sale materials, promotional products and even stickers placed in areas where their demographic targets live and work (see my July 11 blog, “Click and You Shall Receive” for more on QR codes). Companies will learn how to better track their social media spend and the results obtained from that investment which will help them know where to direct their marketing dollars. If you think social media is like drinking water from a fire hydrant, just wait. It will feel like Niagara Falls soon as more people and companies delve deeper to find their niche.
  • Technology. It’s hard to believe my teenagers have never lived a moment without a computer in their lives, cell phones and many other technology innovations only dreamed of a generation ago. In 2011 companies will most likely begin to let go of some of the cash they’ve been hoarding waiting to see a glimmer of hope before investing it. IT will be one of the main areas for spending as companies look to do more with fewer people. Cloud computing or sharing of software and other resources located on third-party servers will become a more cost-effective way of doing business with reduced head counts. As mentioned earlier, IT companies will be producing more and more mobile applications to capture customers and prospects when they are the most likely to spend on goods and services. Security will continue to be a threat to anyone who uses the Internet as hackers and cyber criminals become more savvy and bold.
  • Potpourri. Given the economy (or lack thereof), Congressional gridlock, high unemployment and world instability it’s hard to know what to think about next year much less five, 10 or 50 years down the road. What is certain is that everything is a cycle and our children and grandchildren will look back on these times as many of us do The Great Depression. The tide is turning and the light at the far end of the tunnel is not a freight train, but the warm glow of better things to come. In 2011 I believe we’ll see corporate America begin to spend some of the cash it’s been holding onto until they felt the time was right. With increased spending will come more jobs, lower unemployment rates and the slow start of a recovery. I sometimes think life truly is like the mythical character Sisyphus who forever rolls a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down and he must start all over again. Most everyone I know says they will be glad to see 2010 in the rear-view mirror and are looking forward to better things as the new decade begins.

Chances are you’ll have more and more friends starting their own businesses, going back to school and looking for ways to stay out of corporate America. With the massive layoffs over the last few years people are finally realizing that secure jobs and fat pensions are gone forever. The new reality is you must be savvy, adaptable and rely on your own skills and expertise to forge ahead. Those who are able to find their joy and do what they love will prosper in the coming years and those who don’t will be like a cork on the water, going wherever the tides may take them.

 As the Swedish proverb says, “God gives every bird a worm, but he does not throw it into the nest.” Hope your 2011 is filled with “worms” that bring you health and prosperity.

With 25 years in promotional marketing, Steve Woodburn works with clients to develop creative and measurable solutions that solve their marketing needs using promotional products, uniform programs, online company stores, point-of-sale initiatives along with rewards and recognition. He builds long-term relationships and becomes a trusted advisor and consultant his clients can turn to for all their brand extension needs. You can reach him at Staples Promotional Products: stephen.woodburn@staplespromoproducts.com

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Responses

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