Hans Smellinckx, multi-channel marketing expert

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January 02, 2013

Trends for 2013... less is more

NewyearA new year just started, so time to start to think ahead... what will the future bring? Of course there is a difference between trends that we will see popping up the next 5 years or later and the ones we see next year. In 5 years we will indeed see evolutions like mobile payments, bendable screens and 3D printing becoming an everyday phenomenal, but that’s future thinking, 2013 will bring…


Not immediately the most attractive heading, but start realising that a trend takes more than 1 year. When you think about mobile, just to name one trend of the past 10 to 20 years, than every year people argue that it’s now that it will break through. Well, it will take another 10 years probably before mobile will dramatically have changed our life. So when thinking at what will happen this year, than think about last year, add “more” to it and you got your 2013 cocktail. And ho ho hooo, the mobile trend started with the first commercially sold mobile phone early ‘90’s and will probably be called a live changer when we will have a transparent, bendable tablet that is sold more than laptops. So we are in for a few more years ahead.



CRM exists as long as we know modern businesses, from the early days, where we kept all transactions written in a big logbook to the most modern cash registry systems connected to a cloud solution. People added an “e” flavour from the moment we started adding e-commerce and especially e-mail marketing to our business plan. Suddenly we could communicate in a single second to thousands or millions of consumers. Of course, in all unstable environments, the pendula also swings to the other side and consumers were getting tired of all those impersonal messages and requested more from businesses. So commercial brands had to change and are still changing (as most of you out there are still in the eCRM age) to the sCRM age, the age of the social enterprise. An era where brands enter in a personalised dialogue with their audience. For 2013 we will see more and more global brands succeeding in becoming a social enterprise, while small business will more quickly to the next era, the bCRM. The time where big data is ruling. We connected not only that fancy cash registry system to our CRM package, but also our e-commerce packages and in fact all social/digital signals. This means that we are at this moment able to collect more data than we actually need. So 2013 will become the year of integration and figuring out how we can, as a business, profit from big data. And companies taking Amazon as the sole example will probably fail, as big data goes beyond the standardised messaging of the eCRM era. Time to connect the dots.


Lots of brands went wild the past years, some of them even so wild that they offered services that had absolutely no connection with the core business of the brand. We all know the example of a shoe brand that goes as far as offering services to its customers that anything you ask, we will deliver. Well, guess what, if it’s not your core business, it will hurt your business’ bottom margin. As you put energy in systems and products you are not specialist in. So the service that you could deliver after the sale is none existing and that will hurt your business. Companies will refocus their energy again to their core businesses, as we normally do after crisis periods. And better to be good at 1 thing than to suck in several things. It’s also closely related to the next trend.


The world has become a global connected world, but also more and more impersonal and one size fits all with so called uniformity designs. People are looking at brands in 2 different ways. For the everyday goods, you will have a hard time, as globalisation means also that your brand is perfectly replaceable with another (and sometimes cheaper) brand from the other side of the globe. And this will become more and more obvious that a consumer will shop more and more conscious. And conscious does not mean environmental, it will mean that some people will only look for those brands at price or commodity levels, for other people that could also mean origin and being certain that it are fair products, but nevertheless, you are replaceable as a brand and not alone.  Though times ahead with a changing world and a booming eastern market.

But people will also look for unique products, products that can’t be found in mass markets, that one product that expresses perfectly my opinion, my state of life, my way of living. And where it is made is than probably less important, as it is accessible through the global and connected world. Websites like Fab.com are a good example. The famous “sub-cultures” will pop-up again, small groups of people sharing the same way of living from eco-friendly, fashionistas to price-conscious. 

As the world is becoming very small, the consumer will want to know all about your product, its origin and the company values and not what your CEO is earning at the end of the year. Authentic brands will flourish; mediocre brands will have a hard time. Get personal and dare to be open…
Question for you as a brand marketer is quite obvious, is your brand unique and authentic or replaceable? Challenging times ahead…  as above the line and below the line as a distinction for marketing has disappeared, but have you as a marketer realised it and adapted?


It’s obvious that we will be more and more connected to the world. We are demanding that we can be connected all the time. So people will make choices to be able to stay connected. This will become very clear in the tourism industry. Hotels not offering free Wi-Fi in the complete building will have hard times getting the -35 year olds into their facilities. Long haul airlines that do not offer free Wi-Fi will have a hard time convincing the consumer to buy a seat in their airplanes (we all know that that extra Centimetre leg pace will not cut it). Internet is a commodity, some bars, hotels or companies still need to get a reality check.

The same goes for cities, if you want to attract the new traveller, you will need to offer a lot of hotspots in your city or make of your complete city a free Wi-Fi spot. Popularity of cities will be more and more decided on the mobile interactivity a traveller can have with landmarks of that city and not your publicity dollars, euros, etc.

As in most countries (except in the one I am living, nl. Belgium) data connections are cheap; we will see more and more devices being able to communicate online and to each other through mobile.


The boom of the smartphones and tablets won’t stop in 2013 and will probably overtake the laptop sales. But with the widespread sale of mobile devices, we have also seen the creation of a very cluttered world, with a browser, platform and app war in the making. The consumer will start to make choices and probably 2013 could become the year Apple is meeting its superior.


  • Social media: people are using it and have been using it in some cases for years, the question is we have seen the maximum of networks like Facebook and Twitter. Key will be now how to keep increasing and keeping the consumer happy.
  • The word Google: We’ll be using less and less the word as Android is taking over and Google is being hit from all sides (being it Facebook against Google+, Microsoft against the apps and Android, etc)


Everybody is an expert and we’ll see so called experts more and more, as it is becoming more and more difficult for companies to really prioritise what they need to do next. Changes are appearing so quickly that for a large company, it’s quite difficult to keep up. That’s a reality and companies will have to settle down that they are not leading the pack, but following the consumer. The danger of the “wannebee experts” is that in the era of social media, it’s quite easy to create a personal brand, without that you have even proven that what you claim can have a positive effect in the bottom line results. Be aware of it and dare to ask for results my fellow business men and women.


Mobile will have a huge impact on consumers as the devices we use in a professional environment will change completely over the course of the next 5 years. Laptops will disappear, desktops will become obsolete and we’ll see appearing smart devices everywhere. But that’s just the beginning as there is an even bigger change ahead… The next industrial revolution.

This will impact not only businesses, but also a vast majority of the labour market. Technology is making it possible through 3D printing to already create extremely complex designs with a fraction of the energy and resources needed. Transportation is than becoming even obsolete. We are still at the early stage, but I already know companies that create models and complex architectural models through 3D printing at their own location and within hours after they hit the print button. This saves them energy, time, resources and gives them even better accuracy compared to before. On top, they can protect their intellectual knowledge better as it doesn’t leave the company floor.

We all looked with big amazing eyes when the first Star Trek movies appeared and Captain Kirk printed a whisky from a simple cube (he placed the cube in the glass). Today we are able to print the glass and the whisky at the same time… so science fiction of the 80’s and 90’s is becoming partly reality and this will have a similar or even bigger impact than the invention of electricity, changing the way we produce materials. Buying IKEA furniture will become downloading a model and printing it at home. But probably not yet for 2013 ;-)

This would also mean that distance and the cost of labour will be looked at it from a completely different angle. Large companies that learn now from what 3D printing can bring to them today and tomorrow will be the next Fortune 100 companies, replacing the “old industrial whales”. Similar to what we knew with the first industrial revolution. 

Exciting times ahead, so enjoy 2013 even more than 2012!


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Thanks for making my time worthwhile having read this very nice article of yours. Can't wait to read more from you.

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