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2012 Consumer Trends-Grab An Advantage for Your Airport – Airport Business

We all think we know our target audiences. But how are we able to keep pace with the ever changing nature of today’s multi-dimensional consumers who often are on the leading edge of technology? Not only do we have to understand evolving consumers in depth, but we also have to consider how rapid technological developments change the interactions between people and devices and affect products and services.

Having been a follower of consumer trends throughout my career, I can appreciate that special insight, if recognized and acted upon early, can mean the difference between success and stagnation for companies. This recognition is one of the primary reasons I chose to study psychology, so I would be able to apply those research skills to my clients’ communications and marketing recommendations.

For those who may not have thought about the usefulness of watching trends, now may be an opportune time to consider adding this type of intelligence to your airport planning and marketing. I recommend Trendwatching, one of the world’s leading trend firms that send out their free monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide in nine languages. Once you sign up, you’ll receive their impressive trend briefings on a regular basis.

What I especially admire about Trendwatching is that they have a network of trend spotters for a global perspective and then can take this insight and succinctly summarize the major consumer trends that are important to brand marketers and communicators.

After reading the latest report on 12 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2012, I immediately knew this was invaluable information that needed to be shared with my Airport Business readers. I realize just how fast things are changing and why doing things the way we have always done them may not be the right approach for all applications today.

Due to time and space limitations, I will highlight only the top consumer trends that I feel are most appropriate and useful for airport executives. These may very well be the trends that can make the difference between success and barely marginal operations for the fiscal year. Click here to read all the 2012 trends.

Let’s start with the Red Carpet, but it’s not exactly the Hollywood kind. According to Trendwatching, “businesses around the world will shower Chinese customers and visitors with even more tailored services and perks, and in general, lavish attention and respect. China is the new emperor, and outpaced companies, flailing nations and even broke monetary unions are looking to the Chinese to bail them out. No wonder red carpets are being rolled out wherever Chinese politicians and CEOs currently set foot.”

Clearly, many Chinese travellers will pass through airports, thus offering a valuable opportunity for airports to roll out their own ‘red carpet treatment’ for what is going to be a major influx of Chinese visitors. According to the World Tourism Organization, it is estimated that outbound tourists from China will reach 100 million in 2020, which is just eight years away!

The next trend is Dealer-Chic: This bargain hunting trend is evident in just about every industry, but especially in travel and tourism. In the past, bargain hunting was something to be ashamed of – with others judging you as cheap. Today, it is viewed as a badge of honor and a skill admired by friends and colleagues. Dealer-Chic today is an integral part of daily life for millions of consumers, and astute brands can use this trend to provide consumer promotions and offers to tap into additional revenues from their target markets.

According to Trendwatching, “…. it’s now about more than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and the perceived smartness, and thus a source of status too.” This trend is certainly poised to explode as consumers want more for less, are motivated by shared offers and with the advent of mobile technology, they feel they can and do get the best of everything. Collect one more badge. How can airports cater to this trend and woo more travelers to fly in and out of their airports?

There is an increasing trend towards being Cash-Less, and not because you are poor. I used to think that when my daughter left the house with less than $10 cash in her wallet, she was being foolish. Now it seems that our society is increasingly downgrading the usefulness and value of cold hard cash. This realization hit me when I flew on a cross -country domestic flight and found that the only way I could purchase a snack or beverage was with my credit card. No cash not accepted; nor was any foreign currency accepted. Pity anyone without plastic in case they are really thirsty or hungry on flights!

While this is not the year we will all go ‘cash-less cold turkey,’ Trendwatching sees an increase in cashless initiatives that provide more convenience and additional security for financial transactions everywhere. Whether it’s accessing a buyer’s purchasing history, their earned rewards or being alerted to limited flash deals, major consumer brands are incorporating NFC (Near Field Communication) technologies that transmit data between the cash register and the person’s smartphone to complete the transaction.

So there is no need to search for your wallet, pull out a credit card to swipe and show your ID. Just wave your phone in the right area and make a payment. Imagine the possibilities for airport check-in, shopping, dining and drinking: wave your phone – get your boarding pass verified; scan your phone for dinner and drinks; buy the latest magazines and travel gear with one scan; and so on and so on.

Just last month, I was at a trade show and saw a Paypal mobile application in action for insta-pay. Once users install the Android application and activate the PayPal widget, all they have to do is hold their devices together and funds are instantly transferred. Not only cool, but useful and fast to make more and more purchases when time is short.

Everyone is addicted to the new Screen-Culture: Already screens are everywhere – whether that’s in an elevator, gas station, supermarket, airport, restaurant, in store and on board aircraft. According to this Trendwatching prediction, in 2012 more of our lives will take place via smarter touch screens, more interactive screens, higher level of intuitive screens and in the near future, even screen-embedded windows. Imagine sitting on a flight in a window seat and merely tapping the ‘window’ screen to make a car rental and dinner reservation upon landing. And there is no limit to the possibilities.

For a complete list of all the Trendwatching 2012 Consumer Trends, click here: By paying attention to evolving trends, savvy marketers can think creatively, yet in a more targeted manner, to develop specific strategies to improve revenues. By matching consumer preferences with planned airport initiatives, airports can and will capitalize on marketing opportunities.

Following trends provides insights, strategies and opportunities to help you navigate the challenging times ahead. It’s just another way for you to grab an advantage for your airport. So what are you waiting for? Agnes Huff, PhD