Today’s post from last week's marcus evans Customer Segmentation Conference highlights fundamental market trends, described by Sheryl Connelly from Ford as “manifestations of shifts in consumer values, attitudes, or behaviors.”

Michael Marx, VP of Research Services from Visa, began the conference covering how lifestyle insights create greater business initiative success. Among the intriguing macro trends he shared:

  • Baby Boomers generally see themselves as 12 years younger than they are as people in their early 60’s view themselves as being in their late 40’s. Their consumption patterns thus resemble those of younger people as they display a willingness to change brand preferences in ways that previous generations wouldn’t have.
  • The “Monopoly Board” generational pattern has been altered dramatically. No longer do specific life events happen in similar sequences and within fairly narrow age ranges for most people. Ethnic, lifestyle, and life stage diversification has caused people to not only do things non-sequentially (i.e., having children before marriage), but at different stages (i.e., the prevalence of second families starting at much older ages).

Sheryl Connelly, Global Trends and Futuring Manager at Ford Motor Company served as the conference chair and related her perspectives in trying to help Ford make a comeback, in part, by adopting an outside-in strategic approach. Some of the trends Sheryl highlighted were:

  • The aging population – recognizing this trend is playing out differently in different country markets
  • Changing physiology worldwide - with larger people (weight and height) in much of the world
  • Demands for customization and the means to deliver it - a recurring topic at the conference
  • Increased desire for safety and security - people seeking greater reassurance amid a sense of greater uncertainty in society
  • Ethical consumption – increasing concerns over purchases and the impact of consumption. Sheryl sees this as the most important trend she’s tracking.

A key take away is that demographic-based trends can be foreseen and planned for more readily than other types of trends.

Additionally, Sheryl offered a key question that’s an interesting one in strategic efforts: “What are things we can’t control that can affect our brand?” It’s a challenging question but one that’s worthwhile for all of us to address in our business situations.

Tomorrow, we’ll recap customization-oriented presentations from the conference.