"Transumers" seek convenient ways to ease the commuting burden

March 7, 2014
3 min read

As I traverse the country spreading the joy of consumer trends, my demands and expectations as a consumer myself have changed. Whether going by plane, train or automobile, being in frequent transit means I now assume that everything I buy should be adaptable for on-the-go use, and any advertising message I’m subjected to should be not only relevant to my travels, but entertaining enough to break through the doldrums as well. When I’m getting from point A to point B, I want fresh food and TSA-appropriate personal care products. When purchasing these products, I look for commerce methods that are quick, easy and in many cases digital. And I’m not alone—50% of consumers made a purchase from their mobile phone last year. This trend towards commuter convenience is playing out in a variety of different ways:

• Aiming to ease the commute, Samsung Life is giving people a literal “high five” with its latest campaign that uses interactive subway doors to bring smiles and positivity into passengers’ lives. The doors display an ad featuring a saddened young boy whose face changes into a smiling one if the passer-by gives him a high five. The screens also flash happy scenes like the Han River Bridge and allow people to send text messages straight from the door.
• Sky Go has created technology for trains that lets riders hear ads through bone conduction technology. As commuters often rest their head against the window, ‘the talking window’ causes them to hear a voice inside their head which no one else can hear. This is made possible by utilizing a small transmitter attached to the window that sends out inaudible high-frequency vibrations, which are translated into sound by the brain. This silent, vibrating method transforms train windows into a revolutionary new audio medium.
• L’Oréal Paris recently introduced Intelligent Color Experience, a smart cosmetics shopping experience in the New York Subway. It detects the colors in a consumer’s outfit and picks out the most prominent and related colors, then recommends L’Oréal products to match the palette and also allows shoppers to purchase those products on the spot. The Sweden-based company Meganews has created a machine that can print high-quality magazines in minutes.
• Clothing brand Parker Dusseau has created a Commuter Suit that can take the wearer from their bike into the boardroom. This two-piece has been made from merino wool combined with spandex. It can wick away both sweat and rain, offer the wearer flexibility and look stylish all at the same time. Meanwhile, online retailer Zappos has turned the baggage carousel at a Texas airport into a roulette wheel that awards prizes.

I’m certainly not alone in these heightened expectations for in-commute brand interactions. Because most consumers today are spending more time in transit than they used to, they hold amplified ideals regarding the goods, services and ads that reach them in that daily “in between” space that’s not quite work or home.

Sometime in the not too distant future, as I soar across the country, settle into a train seat or zip around in a rental car, I look forward to being impressed by your brand as it caters to the millions of “transumers” out there.

Stacy is a consumer trends consultant at Mintel.  She specializes in Inspire trends that will propel businesses forward and comes from a diverse background that includes CPG, agency, and marketing experience.

Stacy Glasgow
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