Urbanomics And How Citysumer’s Will Impact Your Small Business

Are you a citysumer? In all likelihood you are and so are your customers. Nearly fifty percent of the world’s population (to the tune of 3 billion) is...

Are you a citysumer? In all likelihood you are and so are your customers. Nearly fifty percent of the world’s population (to the tune of 3 billion) is urbanized; making city dwellers with disposable income the newest and most sought after consumer – or rather, citysumer as defined by trendwatching.com.

Over the next few years, citysumerism will maintain its appeal for not only customers but companies attempting to dig into deep city pockets. Companies are steadily diving into the urban shift – from Groupon Local Deals, Smirnoff’s Absolut Cities, BMW’s Megacity vehicle to Gilt City’s exclusive experiences with insider pricing.

With a predominant macro shift as big as this, small businesses should understand the implications, develop a strategy and prepare to attract the discriminating tastes of the citysumer.


The urban shift

“Hundreds of millions of experienced and sophisticated urbanites, from San Francisco to Shanghai to São Paulo, who are ever more demanding and more open-minded, but also more proud, more connected, more spontaneous and more try-out-prone, eagerly snapping up a whole host of new urban goods, services, experiences, campaigns and conversations,” according to recent reports.

World leading trend analysts don’t expect the mega trend of Urbanomics to slow down. The increased number of people flocking to larger metropolitan areas around the world, escalating wealth and power of cities and the spread of an urban way of life are a few of the driving forces behind the phenomena. (Source: Visual Economics, 2011)

In fact, if the pace continues, the urban population across the world is expected to reach 6.3 billion by 2050 – 70% of the world’s population will be known as citysumer’s. (Source: Intuit, October 2010)


Capitalizing on urban dispora

The global shift to larger metropolitan areas presents a tremendous opportunity for small businesses. Research suggests that urban consumers are more likely to try a new product which in turn makes them more experienced buyers.

These characteristics are even more pronounced in emerging markets. Citysumers are inundated with alternatives – and your small business should be one of them.


1. Cater to urban island dwellers

If your company’s target audience is comprised largely of citysumers, it may be time to insulate and replicate a winning recipe. (Not sure? Check your historic sales data and track the geographic locations of your customers).

These ‘urban islands’ are defined by analysts as the top 100 cities that account for 30% of the world’s economy and almost all of its innovation. Think – London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, etc. If you operate a local business, strategize new tactics for ‘soft entry’ into you closest domestic market by validating your idea, dedicated marketing campaigns, revised distribution goals, etc.


2. Give your brand urban appeal

It may be time to adjust your branding strategy. If you’ve built a brand with significant equity – perceived value – investigate ways to broaden your customer base to appeal to urban citysumers. It could be as simple as replicating your local strategy into a new market that fits your business goals.

Or with the use of creative brand extensions, you can spin-off your brand and enter a new product category. Think of successful spin-offs from The Virgin Group – records to airplanes – Starbucks lattes to Starbucks latte ice cream and Iams pet food to Iams pet insurance, to name a few.

Not sure how to appeal to a new target audience or what products would resonate with current customers? Just ask. Use customer surveys with an incentive, ask for feedback from internal stakeholders familiar with your business or crowdsource innovation and ask people that are unfamiliar with your brand what they think is cool, unique and relevant.


3. Go global with custom Citysumer initiatives

Taking your small business global is not as hard as most entrepreneurs may think. Here are a few tips to get started.

  • Develop an internal research initiative to discover new markets with the highest potential for entry and revenue opportunity.
  • Merge business with pleasure on your next vacation and make it a point to gather information while sun bathing in Sao Paulo, Brazil or sight-seeing in New York, NY.
  • Pitch your business and connect with potential strategic partners to drive value and gain instant access and expertise into a completely unfamiliar market.
  • Brainstorm ways to heighten brand awareness and do business in some of the richest cities in the world: Los Angeles, New York, Copenhagen, Geneva, etc.
  • The small business owner that proactively develops an urbanomics plan of action and executes it will take quantum leaps in the next few years.

The best way to integrate this trend into your daily business operations is to refine the experience. Citysumers have an affinity towards products, services and experiences that cater to their diverse interests locally and globally.

Capitalize on this mega trend and chronicle your daily life as an urban dweller – from the mundane to the super ordinary, hour by hour and minute by minute. As you consume goods, interact with services and engage in experiences – how could you make each one better?

This is by far one of the coolest trends. The potential for innovation is remarkable and the next big thing could possibly be you.


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