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Why perks and privileges are the new currency

Consumer infatuation with perks and privileges isn't new.For years, airlines, hotels, credit card companies and private banks have been cleverly rewarding their most valuable customers with surprises, status symbols and convenience. But as we move towards a consumer society that’s based more on experiences, on status stories, on the ephemeral—and in which, for many, time is now the only true scarcity—expect perks and privileges to become an integralpart of every B2C industry and sector. We’ve dubbed this trend PERKONOMICS: PERKONOMICS: A new breed of perks and privileges, added to brands' regular offerings, is satisfying consumers’ ever-growing desire for novel forms of status and/or convenience, across all industries. The benefits for brands are equally promising: from escaping commoditization, to showing empathy in turbulent times. One to havefirmly on your radar in 2009.

You are reading a PDF version of one of our free monthly Trend Briefings. More at:

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bigger problem in their lives than a lack of money. (Source: Yankelovich.)

43% of Americans, 39% of British, 60% of Dutch and 47% of Australians rate themselves as ‘time poor’, meaning they feel short of time. (Source: Jay Walker Thompson.)Americans are critically under-vacationed. That's both by choice and circumstance, at least according to the results of Expedia's annual Vacation Deprivation Survey. Americans had only 14 days off in 2007. Yet 35% of Americans won't take all the time off they earn, returning upward of 438 million days to their employers. (Source: Expedia.)

What constitutes status in a consumer society isforever evolving*. One of the current major status shifts? Exclusive access to privileges and experiences (from eco to luxury) dethroning exclusive access to physical symbols. And yes, PERKONOMICS plays directly and effectively to this shift. * Please re-read STATUS SPHERES for the various traditional and new forms of status, as well as STATUS STORIES, THE CONVENIENCE ECONOMY and BRAND BUTLERS.What's your equivalent of Ben & Jerry's annual Free Cone Day? Empathy with your customers' hassles and struggles should be a top-priority no matter how the economy is doing, but when things get really tough (like, well, now, in many countries), an extra scoop of FREE LOVE, or really any gesture of kindness and understanding will be truly appreciated. Doesn't take years of business school to figurethis one out ... just show some heart. Time—that is, the lack of it—is still one of the biggest consumer trends around. Anything that you can do to help save consumers' precious time is worth its weight in, well, long lazy uninterrupted days. And that includes not wasting people’s time, too ;-) Some stats:

70% of Americans 16 years and older say they don’t have enough time to do all thethings they need to do. Half of US consumers now say that a lack of time is a

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You are reading a PDF version of one of our free monthly Trend Briefings. More at:

Who to learn from? PERKONOMICS pioneers* obviously include airlines, hotels, credit card companies and private banks, who have always been big on all kinds of loyalty programs and privileges.From priority lines to "no middle seat" guarantees, and from upgrades to discounts on flights, holidays and concerts. So for those who want to dive deeper into PERKONOMICS after reading this briefing, study the various perk-based initiatives and countless articles and books that cover the dos and don'ts of traditional loyalty programs and rewards. Then either translate those established insights...