Birnbach Communications’ Top Predictions for 2012, Part I



We’ve been issuing annual predictions going back a decade now. Our goal is to help our clients more effectively understand and engage on topics of interest for social media.

We will be rolling out our 2012 list of trends over the next two weeks. Here are the first few:

  1. The desire to be connected 24/7 may change in 2012. You almost never have downtime anymore, and people are beginning to notice that’s not all good.  Sure, if you are waiting in line at the post office or bank (something today’s kindergarteners won’t do by the time they hit college), you’ll be able to check email, play an app, text your friend, or make a call. But this lack of downtime may negatively impact our ability to concentrate and avoid distractions at work and at home. The recognition that we actually need to disconnect, that we need downtime, is likely to generate coverage this year. Already a handful of companies have limited email, both during the day and after hours – and we think more will join those ranks. We also think the concept of going on vacation without access to email or cell will become more of a status symbol because it now takes a lot of money to disconnect yourself from your regular workday.
  2. We may be immersed in social media, but we’ll spend less time with actual people.
    So many people use social media sites – from Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn, to Pinterest and Quora and more — that people have less time to spend with their friends and family. We’re not sure if this will get much media coverage, but we’ve seen some books addressing the topic (like last year’s “Alone Together” by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle). We expect more attention will be paid as kids in schools face a new way to feel alienated.
  3. Value will be king in 2012. Upscale consumers, suffering from frugal fatigue, have started spending again.  But for the 99% of us — a phrase that will be popular throughout 2012, due to the presidential election — will continue to look for value. That bodes well for Groupon, LivingSocial and other sites offering discounts. However, some companies have complained that they’ve lost money on their promotions through Groupon, so a question in 2012 could well be: “Do group discounts actually generate a return for companies?” Expect two other questions this year: “Will Groupon turn out to be a good investment since its Nov. 2011 IPO at $20?” and “How many e-coupon sites do consumers want or need?”

Let us know if you agree or disagree. And check back tomorrow for additional predictions.

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