My crystal ball is broken, but I still have my trusty Magic 8 Ball. Do you remember how accurate that thing was? When you’re a kid, you want to know things like, “Am I going to play in the NBA?” or, “Does Bethany love me?” It would answer, “Don’t count on it” and you’d shake the crap out of it and ask again. “Should I ask her out on a date” (SHAKE-SHAKE-SHAKE) and it would say “Signs point to yes.” Bingo. Just what I was looking for.
In 2012, don’t keep shaking the Magic 8 Ball until you get an answer you like. Read my predictions and see how they apply to YOUR reality. Here are six predictions that might help you out, and there’s one HUGE bonus prediction when you make it to the end of this post, so hang with me!
- Power foundations (also known as adjustable beds) continue growing as a category in 2012. Tempur-Pedic came out strong in 2011, building a lot of value in its advertising in the product, as well as the effort made by Select Comfort. Serta introduced iComfort on a power foundation and made a HUGE splash in the market. Look for some great product innovation coming from the leaders in the category, including my company, Leggett & Platt. These days, it is more difficult for retailers to drive larger numbers of people into their stores, but they can sell more to the people already there, and the power foundations were a great up-sell in 2011. The power foundation is also a prime place to introduce some new technology and create some real “want” in the mattress category.
- Speaking of Serta, I would imagine the pressure is heavy on Sealy and Simmons to market a product directly to the consumer. Let’s face it, most retailers don’t build any value in products. For them, it is all about swinging the door, with a product and price focus. Serta has been spending outside of the co-op model for a while now, but really hit a sweet spot with a great product in iComfort, coupled with impressive point-of-sale displays. That in itself would not be enough to drive the result they have been getting. However, the marketing message has been strong. I don’t know if Sealy and Simmons will go this route, but then again, I am not sure they can afford not to.
- The power of referrals and recommendations by consumers for products will increase in importance. You will see companies trying to harness that word-of-mouth influence to drive interest. There will be innovation around those techniques that will put a laser-beam focus on the ever-increasing social network footprint. If a bedding brand or retailer out there can start building those communities and create raving fans that will share the story, they will win big in 2012.
- Location-based marketing will grow. Some studies show that nearly 1/3 of all American adults use a smartphone these days, and that number will just continue to increase. With 50% of last-minute shopping projected to be done via mobile device in 2015, marketers in 2012 will be looking for ways to help consumers find their products easier, working with sites like Foursquare to target their message to the best possible audience (the people in or near your store). This makes the most sense for retailers, but don’t discount the benefit to the manufacturer. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to show your retail partners that you drove thousands of people into their stores looking for YOUR products! That would be some nice leverage to have over the competitors.
- Retailers will start placing more ads within social media outlets. As an example, Facebook’s brand advertising rose 104% from Q1 to Q2 and shows no signs of slowing down. If you want to target a very specific group of people, Facebook can help you do it. With over 800 million active users, you can find people where they are, instead of them having to find you!
- 2012 is going to be tougher than experts predict. The BIG are going to get BIGGER by taking advantage of guys out there having a tough time. No matter what role you play in the industry, if you are not capitalized, it is going to be difficult. The key will be to think creatively, and to not become a victim of the economy. At the end of the day, there are all kinds of opportunities. You just have to take some risks and not make excuses for poor performance.
So there you have it: Power foundations, Sealy and Simmons going directly to consumers, referrals, the importance of mobile, social advertising, and a tough 2012. Don’t be discouraged! Don’t shake the Magic 8 Ball until you get the answer you want! Be prepared and plan ahead. I guess the bottom line is to pay attention to what is happening around you, embrace the communication highway, and if you want to make an impact in a difficult year, you will have to work outside your comfort zone.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot the BONUS prediction: There is going to be a presidential election next year and a person that many people do not like is going to win. What?! At least this way, I’m guaranteed to get one prediction right!
What are you predicting for 2012? Leave your comments below.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the thinking of the company I work for, or anyone else with whom I am affiliated. Except my wife of course, who is good at telling me what not to say.