Jacqueline Drew: A marketer's Top 5 predictions for 2008

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

By Jacqueline Drew, founder of Start Marketing in Calgary
(Listen to the original audio)

The world, she is a changin'. Consumers are embracing the information era, and getting much wiser. As a marketer, that has some very important implications regarding what consumers want, and how they should be marketed to.

So I thought I'd give you my top five predictions for what we can expect in the year ahead:

1) Green Products: Consumers have heard and seen enough information about the environment that more and more of them will embrace environmentally sound products. And thankfully, that will push more marketers toward smart packaging, biodegradable materials, and reusability.

2) "Found" Valuables: Consumers are getting wealthier, and are more overloaded with "stuff" than ever, most of which they regret buying. What they lack is items of meaning: antiques, used valuables, and authentic, long-lasting items that are well-built and have a story to tell. Good marketers are going to have to shift away from price and volume to messages of quality and authenticity.

3) Intimate Service: Consumers have trended through big-box stores in recent years, and discovered the let-downs in service and quality. This is going to cause trends to swing back to smaller, more personal stores, where the staff is happy and knowledgeable, and where customers can actually build a personal rapport.

4) Full disclosure: Consumers now have the power to search online and find out everything they need to know before buying a product. So if a business chooses not to list the full features, or omits the price, a consumer can easily get full skinny elsewhere. Good marketers need to give full disclosure to succeed with these info-savvy consumers.

5) Freebies: The internet has created a culture of freebies: free software, free games, free music, free information. This will allow a leveling of the playing field between small and large businesses where the marketer with the best freebies wins.

In all, the information era is pushing consumers ahead in the power struggle with marketers. The old marketing tactics of concealing the details, baiting and switching, and exaggerating the benefits will no longer get by today's smart, conscientious consumers who expect excellent service, free trials, high quality, and good corporate social responsibility. And you know what? I think it's about time.

(Click on the comment link below to share your view)