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In 2012, we expect to see certain trends become standards, just as location and personalization became essential elements to success in 2011. This year, there are a number of trends to watch and a few that have the potential to become fundamental to your business in a very short time. Whether they come to be indispensable or mark the beginning of something larger, here are some key trends to keep your eyes on in 2012.
Shopping from everywhere becomes the norm: The number of companies who make it easy for customers to buy from nearly anywhere using any connected device, and the number of consumers who expect this option, will surge. This increased consumer appetite for anytime, anywhere shopping will necessitate that brands stop focusing on disparate channels and concentrate on seamless experience ecosystems.
The physical world gets digital overlays: Digital triggers, including Augmented Reality, Quick Response (QR) codes and Image Recognition (IR) will change how people engage with their surroundings. These real-world enhancements will enable a new level of information access that encourages heightened engagement, sampling and interaction.
Retailers will blur the lines between channels: The offline world will embrace digital ever more tightly, as brick-and-mortar stores offer the best of technology-based features. From scanning product tags and paying with smartphones to engaging with interactive signage and ‘trying on’ clothes with augmented reality, stores soon will offer an easily accessible layer of detailed product information.
How and what we spend evolves further: Digital wallets and virtual currency will change how consumers shop for products, buy and share services, watch what and how they spend and track account balances. What’s more, their smartphones will help usher in a new, faster way to complete in-store purchases.
Points and rewards follow customers everywhere: Mobile devices and context-relevant features will give companies a direct line to individual consumers no matter where they are. This ubiquitous connection will enable simplified loyalty programs with real-time tracking and updates based on social, location and gaming elements.
Data changes the way we live and work: The wells of data that companies have collected and consumers have shared will start being harvested regularly. Using the social graph and other data, companies will begin to deliver more relevant experiences that enable deeper connections, impactful messages and enhancements to how people interact with and manage the world around them.
Banner advertising makes a comeback: The ability to utilize data for highly targeted advertising and to gather better metrics will return imedia to a place of prominence. Brand messages will use consumers’ relationships, preferences, favorites and past behaviors to create relevance and enable greater insights when analyzing real-time reports.
These are just a few of the digital trends helping to shape our ever-changing, real-time digital landscape and helping to influence how companies connect with customers. In the weeks ahead, we will explore each in more depth and discuss how forward-thinking businesses can use them to their advantage.