Cricket is the pre-industrial sport that saw out the industrial age and ventures into the uncertain post-industrial, information age. Trendwatching.com is a worldwide commercial trend monitoring service that has recently published its annual list of new consumer trends to watch out for. As followers of international cricket or players of club cricket, which, if any, of these cutting edge trends will we experience this year?
Anything shown in italics in the rest of this post, comes from the Trendwatching briefing. Surprisingly, perhaps, I find evidence of seven of the 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013 in our timeless sport. Hold onto your wide-brimmed hats, because: 2013 will be the perfect storm of necessity and opportunity (motto to be adopted by the ICC Champions Trophy?).
Trend 1: Full frontal – not just transparent, but naked and proud
T20 provides cricket’s first trendsetting example. It brought players out of the dressing room, sitting them like a brightly dressed rabble of club cricketers on the boundary edge. Next, it put players on a live microphone. Shane Warne showed the BBL TV audience the best – explaining what he would bowl and with what effect – and worst – abusing Marlon Samuels – of transparent cricket coverage. The camera’s next move can be to one place only: the showers.
Trend 2: Presumers and Custowners – consumers will embrace even more ways to participate in the funding and launch of new products and brands
This phenomenon, its potential unlocked by the Internet, is found in a project that, ironically, deals with cricket’s ability to adjust to the changing world. The movie now in post-production, Death of a Gentleman, considers how Test match cricket can survive. It was funded by fans of the sport, responding to a social media campaign operated by the film’s producers, Kimber and Collins, using the crowd-funding website FundMe.com.
Cricket would seem a viable market for this sort of approach. Its followers include many more affluent and connected people, protective of their niche interest. But searching the major crowd-funding websites no other cricket-themed products or services appear to be looking for our seedcorn cash. Maybe the release of Death of a Gentleman in 2013 will change that.
Trend 3: Emerging squared – emerging brands from all over are catering for emerging middle classes all over
Cricket seems well ahead of the curve on this one. Emerging markets initially experienced economic growth by manufacturing products or low cost services for the developed world. Increasingly, those emerging economies produce and create to meet their own and other emerging economies’ needs.
Indian cricket, at its most distilled in the IPL, is an archetype of the business of emerging nations no longer being developed to target the consumers of the developed world. Sold out stadiums and a prime-time audience reach of 160 million at home. Back in the ‘home’ of cricket, it gets an afternoon (live) broadcast on ITV how many? ITV4.
Trend 4: Mobile moments – lifestyle multi-if-not-hyper-tasking: why micro-convenience, mini experiences and digital snacks will rule
Cricket followers are fairly well catered for on their smart-phones, able to tune into a game for moments between meetings, calls, lessons, trips or whatever else punctuates their productive day. Apps provide news, scores, statistics and my personal favourite enables me to create a wagon wheel. This is a fast developing area. I wonder if this year when we take our seats at the ground for a day of Ashes cricket we will be downloading match-specific apps that connect us with anyone else with that app in the ground, for debate, images and even dates?
Next come the trends that affect the consumer as amateur player, rather than consumer as viewer.
Trend 5: Data Myning – why consumers want good data not big data
Businesses hold data about us, which in this trend they provide to us rather than merely use to market to us. The relevance to cricket is, I think, unrealised but becomes possible with the spread of computer-based scoring across club cricket. Hitherto, the typical cricketer has glanced over the scorebook in the bar after the match to assess their contribution. But with ball-by-ball data recorded digitally, each player by the time they have showered, could receive a detailed breakdown of their innings/bowling spell, player v player chart and wagon wheel. Crowd-source your pennies to me for this idea.
Trend 6: Again made here – local manufacturing is the new service economy
Bat manufacture probably never left the UK but it is on the up again. Bespoke bats and factory visits are the hook. Millichamp & Hall hand-make bats at their workshop at the Somerset County Ground in Taunton. Customers are “entitled to come and visit” the workshop, making it an experience not just a transaction.
A new challenger launched in 2012: B3 cricket in Nottingham. Offering off the shelf, custom and bespoke bats, B3 is as keen on the service element as M&H. Intriguingly, it advises that each bat has a unique reference number for reproduceability of your perfect bat. Moreover, recognising what creatures of habit batsmen can be, the customer is encouraged to bring along their favourite, but retired, bat for the new one to be made in its image.
I could not find actual or potential cricket equivalents for three of the trends
- New life inside – it’s time for products that give back to the environment
- Appscriptions – digital technologies are the new medicine
- Celebration nation – flaunting the new ‘it’ cultures
leaving one trend:
Trend 10: Demanding Brands – brands’ wishes will be consumers’ command
The New Zealand cricket team are making some extreme demands of their followers early in 2013, but there’s an even better fit to this trend. It’s not considered fashionable, but it’s the basic modus operandi of local cricket clubs. In return for wearing the club’s crest, the playing member paints the sight-screens, hangs the nets, sweeps the dressing room, pulls the pints, runs the socials, etc. There’s an awful lot about brand loyalty that local cricket clubs could teach commerce.
Celebration Nation – The insistence of Dhoni on playing on “Indian style pitches” combined with Sehwag’s comments about home advantage and some of the media comments about the ICC favouring “Anglo Nations” show that the shift in economic power base is likely to be matched with a cultural shift.
Appscriptions – Channel 9 have been trying to get people to download their app. Test Match Sofa are designing one. ESPN Cricinfo and Cricbuzz both have good apps, and NZ Cricket has thrown it’s weight behind CricHQ, a company based around a free ap (that somehow makes money, but I’ve no idea how)
I’m not sure about New Life Inside, but there are a couple of ideas anyway.