Urbanization remains one of the absolute mega trends for the coming decade. Here’s just one telling stat: “Today, half the world’s population – 3 billion people – lives in urban areas. Close to 180,000 people move into cities daily, adding roughly 60 million new urban dwellers each year.” (Source: Intuit, October 2010)
How will this change the consumer arena? Firstly, urban consumers tend to be more daring, more liberal, more tolerant, more experienced, more prone to trying out new products and services. In emerging markets, these effects tend to be even more pronounced, with new arrivals finding themselves distanced from traditional social and familial structures, while constantly exposed to a wider range of alternatives.
Secondly, keep a close eye out for ‘URBAN ISLANDS’: just 100 cities currently account for 30% of the world’s economy, and almost all its innovation. Many are world capitals that have evolved and adapted through centuries of dominance: London, New York, Paris, etc. New York City’s economy alone is larger than 46 of sub-Saharan Africa’s economies combined. Hong Kong receives more tourists annually than all of India (Source: Foreign Policy, August 2010). However, metropolises such as Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Istanbul are obviously keen to join the top ranks, too.
Catering to city-citizens in these vast urban entities requires a local, dedicated approach in products, services and campaigns that mirror if not surpass the usual country-specific approach.
To cut a long story short: In 2011, go for products, services, experiences or campaigns that tailor to the very specific (and often more refined, more experienced) needs of urbanites worldwide, if not city by city. And don’t forget to infuse them with a heavy dose of ‘URBAN PRIDE’. From Smirnoff’s Absolut Cities to BMW’s Megacity vehicle, urban is the way to go.
Note: As URBANOMICS is perhaps one of the biggest yet still underestimated consumer trends of our times, we’ll expand on this trend in our February 2011 Trend Briefing, so if you haven’t done so already.