Al’s column

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by Al Wahnon

CONTESTS: Durkan, the hospitality brand of The Mohawk Group, is calling on designers and students to “D*scover” their creativity with its 2nd annual carpet design contest. Co-sponsored by the Network of the Hospitality Industry (NEWH) entries will be evaluated on concept, presentation and market feasibility by a panel of industry professionals. Participants must design four print carpet patterns characteristic of hospitality spaces. Grand prizes will be awarded to one design professional—a trip to Las Vegas for the HD Expo in May—and one student—a Durkan scholarship from NEWH. Entries are due March 4. Visit durkan.com/discover for complete rules and entry forms. Similiarly, Safavieh has launched its first rug design contest in conjunction with the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA). Entries will be judged on originality, marketability and production potential. One winner will receive the design in a 6 x 9 area rug as well as $500. Deadline for entries is Jan. 25. Visit ifda.com/node/30 for more details.

HOLIDAY READING: With many people off for the holidays, what better time to catch up on some reading? And why not the kind that can help improve you and your business in 2011? Strategy+business magazine released its lists of the top business books in 2010. To make it easy on which book(s) to pick, they are broken into eight overriding topics: the Economy, Human Capital, Leadership, the Human Mind, Innovation, Management, China and Biography & History, along with what it calls its “Top Shelf” picks which includes what reviewers feel are the best selections from each category. It’s a fascinating list and there’s sure to be something in there for any professional—from the lone entrepreneur to the top mill executive and everyone in between. Check the lists out at strategy-business.com.

TRENDS: Beyond the books, it is best to know what’s on your customers’ minds. Trendwatching.com recently came out with a list of consumer trends expected to be big in 2011. They include: Random acts of kindness. There will be no excuses left not to be kind as a brand; Urbanomics. Hundreds of millions of more daring, more experienced consumers are one effect of rapid global urbanization; Pricing pandemonium. Flash sales, group buying, GPS-driven deals will change the pricing structure forever; Online status symbols. It is helpful to supply your (online-loving) customers with any kind of symbol, virtual or ‘real world,’ that helps them display to peers their online contributions, creations or popularity; Social-lites and Twinsumers. It’s all about discovery, as consumers become curators, actively broadcasting, remixing, compiling, commenting, sharing and recommending content, products, purchases, experiences to both their friends and wider audiences; Emerging generosity. Brands and wealthy individuals from emerging markets (yes, especially China) will increasingly be expected to give, donate, care and sympathize versus just sell and take on a global scale; Eco superior. When it comes to green consumption, expect a rise in eco superior products—items that are not only eco-friendly, but superior to polluting incumbents in every possible way.

GOING SOCIAL: Online social networks have captured both the imagination and wallets of marketers. According to a Duke University survey of elite marketers, social media represents roughly 6% of cur- rent marketing budgets. This level of commitment is expected to reach 10% within one year and jump to 18% within five years. The study falls in line with one by Infinite Dial, Arbitron and Edison, which polled people on the following: When asked to choose between TV and the Internet, 49% chose to eliminate TV, whereas 48% said the Internet. In 2001, 76% said they could do without the Internet and only 26% picked throwing away the TV.

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