Trendspotting vs. Trainspotting for 2013

It’s that time of year again, when we wipe away the dust and gaze into our crystal balls. As business owners, consumers and concerned citizens, we are asking: What will 2013 bring? How do we separate the passing fads from the promising opportunities? Fortunately, we don’t have to worry if our future-watching skills aren’t finely tuned, because there are others who are doing it for us. Finweek tapped into the insight of and independent trend analyst Saint-Francis Tohlang to find out what you need to know….

A Perfect Storm of Necessity and Opportunity

“There is a storm brewing,” explanins Tohlang, “and 2013 will be the perfect storm of necessity and opportunity….We are looking towards a ‘remapped global economy, new technologies - or old technologies applied in new ways, new business models’ – and this is where the opportunity lies.  There is a climate of necessity and great opportunity taking shape.” has identified 10 ‘Crucial Consumer Trends,’ several of which are particularly relevant to South Africa and the rest of the African continent:

DATA "MYNING":  In 2013, look for more savvy consumers to start reversing the flow: seeking to own and make the most of their own lifestyle data, and turning to brands to proactively offer help on how to make their lives easier. Tohlang says a great local example of this in action is startup 22seven, entrepreneur Christo Davel’s new personal financial managament tool.

CELEBRATION NATION: As a result of an increased value in global cultural capital, 2013 will see an uptick in emerging markets proudly exporting and even flaunting their national and cultural heritage. Symbols, lifestyles and traditions that were previously downplayed, if not denied, are being revived to become a source of pride for both domestic and global consumers. Locally, African design and fashion has become a major success on the international scene, and African prints are becoming a staple at all the major fashion houses.

EMERGING2: While the last two decades were about developed markets catering to emerging ones, and emerging markets increasingly catering to developed ones, now get ready for an explosion in products and services from emerging markets for emerging markets.  Think Chinese and Brazilian brands selling to the middle classes in Turkey, India or South Africa. Or vice versa.

MOBILE MOMENTS: Hectic, urban lifestyles mean that no amount of time will be too fleeting, or actively too absorbing to cram in more content, connection, consumption or simply fun. We all know about the mobile explosion, and nowhere is this more dynamic than in Africa. Local startups such as Motribe and its parent company MXit have demonstrated that we are more than equipped to be global leaders on the mobile front.

“I can’t help but feel that we are on the cusp of change in many spheres,” concludes Tohlang. “Manguang beckons, our slow yet steady economy is taking a downward turn, increasing labour strike actions, rising debt amongst consumers, a growing agitation in the middle class, soaring unemployment rates amongst the youth…these are all catalysts for change. Change is simmering under the surface.”

Whether we can embrace this change and transform it into something positive, however, will all depend on you, the individual.

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