From tech that's aligned to our feelings, to motivational branding, our trends knowledge leader, Rebecca Coleman, reports on five trends set to impact on our lives, and thus on business, in the 12 months ahead…
Hello 2015! The rapid and consistent economical, technological, political and cultural shifts taking place make it hard to keep up. So, we’ve analysed what’s going on in the world and defined five actionable macro trends that you can apply to your business in 2015. Each one has three cultural drivers explaining the roots of the trend and three impacts that define how they will manifest themselves in the year ahead.
2015 will see the emergence of tech that is more seriously attuned to our thoughts and feelings. It will become more intuitive, learning our likes and dislikes and adapting to give the user more time for self-development and spirituality. Robot personal assistants, wearable devices and monitoring tech will help us achieve a more mindful sense of wellbeing. We might finally be reaching a point at which technology starts to make our lives easier, giving users more time for what’s truly important.
Quantified self: a number of apps and gadgets, such as the pioneering Nike Fuelband, have given people the power to consistently monitor and quantify their lifestyle habits and activities.
Hectic lifestyles: thus far tech has succeeded in making our lives more – rather than less – busy. Everywhere connectivity has left us feeling overwhelmed and in search of respite.
The happiness economy: people are putting more stock than ever before in the quest for happiness over wealth or acquisition of possessions.
Wearable wellbeing: a number of wearable devices and smart garments are being developed that monitor the physiology of their wearers.
Luxury fashion house Ralph Lauren is just one brand jumping on the wearables wagon with its biometric shirt, which debuted in August 2014 at the US Open Tennis Championships. It monitors the wearer’s physiology through sensors that communicate with a smartphone app. It aims to help athletes enhance performance through better understanding of their bodies.
Mindful tech: where once upon a time technology and mindfulness were enemies, they are now becoming increasingly interlinked as a number of start ups begin to focus on more meditative functionalities for apps and devices.
As well as exercise, a number of wearable products are also being developed to improve mood and psychological wellbeing. Thync and Muse are two headsets that aim to do just that. While Thync applies electrical currents to calm or stimulate the mind, Muse uses EEG sensors to monitor the heart and aid meditation.
Digital escapism: the evolution of augmented reality devices is creating the opportunity to escape from the real world with truly immersive digital experiences.
Oculus Rift has so far cornered the AR market with a number of brands – Topshop, Gareth Pugh – partnering with them to great effect. However, newcomers are threatening their patch. Magic Leap is the one to look out for in 2015 having raised a whopping $542m in funding, including investment from the likes of Google. The start up is reportedly working on tech that forgoes the need for screens and headsets by directing light rays – and therefore imagery – straight to the eye.
We live in times where the lines between luxury and mainstream, celebrity and citizen, brand and consumer, youth and old age are increasingly difficult to determine. This is a post-democratic, post-demographic era in which appealing to the affluent isn’t quite as straightforward as it once was. This is a world where access beats ownership and mindfulness trumps acquisition. What does this mean for brands?
Access all areas: consumers have access to a wide variety of information 24/7, making them better informed and more media-savvy than ever before.
Reassessment of value: the sharing economy has turned the idea of conspicuous consumption on its head. As a result experiences and knowledge are becoming more valuable than possessions.
Democracy 2.0: with the rise of social media and the shift from brand dictatorship to a more democratic model, people have become accustomed to getting their own way.
Modern mash-ups: we’ll begin to see more unconventional brand partnerships. This will be especially true of luxury, heritage and fashion brands looking to reach a new audience of youthful, transmedia consumers by teaming up with tech companies.
Watch brand Fossil has collaborated with tech giant Intel to develop a smartwatch that is also stylish. There are also rumours that luxury watch brand Tag Heuer is following a similar route.
Emotional elitism: there is a new breed of lux consumers who favour brands that provide a sense of emotional wellbeing. This is a more mindful and meaningful form of consumerism where experiences and knowledge are highly sought after.
We will begin to see more brands following in the footsteps of Kenzo with its No Fish No Nothing pop-up, which bypassed pure hard sell to teach customers about overfishing.
Sense of irony: consumers value brands that make them laugh and tap into their own sense of irony. With this in mind, many brands are developing tongue-in-cheek products and satirical communications to show that they’ve moved beyond the traditional convention of luxury taking itself too seriously.
Luxury fashion house Moschino’s successful McDonald’s inspired A/W 2014 collection playfully fused high and low culture to great effect.
Always on lifestyles: everywhere connectivity means that people are able to go online and communicate with others 24/7.
The internet of things: as devices become increasingly connected we will give over a lot more control of our personal environments and appliances to intelligent technology.
Screen stacking: with the average UK household having more than six internet enabled devices, people are spreading their usage and attention across smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs, PCs and other gadgets.
Remote Living: mobile connectivity and the internet of things means that people no longer have to be in the same place as a piece of technology to control it.
At CES 2015 a number of car brands presented various solutions to autonomous driving. BMW is developing a number of innovations in this area, including a Remote Valet Parking Assistant that uses GPS and sensors to find the perfect parking spot. The car will also be able to detect when the driver is heading back and drive to meet them.
Innovative sharing: the Sharing Economy was a major trend for 2014 that will continue to grow in increasingly innovative ways as people begin to spread their world by granting access to others.
In September 2014, a new sharing website called Breather was launched. It offers users the opportunity to rent private spaces from 30 minutes to a day. The spaces are more homely than those offered by work-oriented room sharing sites such as PivotDesk.
Brand me and me and me: from AirBnB to Instagram and Facebook, people are increasingly stretching their online personas and lifestyles across platforms. As our number of devices and apps increases so too will the elasticity of our profiles.
In answer to this are a growing number of niche social networks and apps. These range from interest-related sites, including knitting network Ravelry, to apps with narrow usage possibilities, such as Yik Yak, which allows users to send anonymous messages to others within a 10 mile radius.
Everywhere connectivity: being constantly connected on the go is leading to a number of mobile solutions making everyday life more convenient.
Digital transience: popular apps, such as Snapchat and Yovo are making self-destructing digital content commonplace.
Convenience culture: people have become used to ultra speedy online service and are no longer willing to wait.
Right time marketing: real time marketing was an industry buzzword in 2014, but has quickly been usurped by the concept of right time marketing. In 2015, brands will continue to grow their ability to react at the most pertinent cultural moment.
2015 should see more brands following in the footsteps of FMCG parent brand Unilever’s All Things Hair initiative – a YouTube channel of beauty tutorials that was able to respond to trends at the right time using search data from Google Analytics.
Instant expertise: the internet has made it straightforward for consumers to learn whatever they want, whenever they want. They can instantly find the knowledge to complete a task simply by watching a YouTube video.
In 2015, we are likely to see more brands and start ups offering tech innovations that double as tools for living by making skilled and complicated tasks simple, whatever the users’ ability level. One example of this is the Palate Home Smart Grill, which connects to a mobile app. Cooks simply need to input the desired culinary outcome and the smart appliance does the rest of the work for them.
Mobile payments are go: though a long time in the making, mobile payments are finally coming of age.
Starbucks has announced that 2015 will be the year when its app allows customers to pre-order drinks for in-store collection.
Lack of trust: disillusioned with politicians and traditional authority figures, consumers have become adept at spotting tired hyperbole and jargon. They want to see real action over words.
Media savvy consumerism: the rise of 24/7 connectivity means that people are consuming more media than ever before. They are learning to formulate their own journalistic arguments from diverse sources.
Do what I say culture: the adage “the customer is always right” has never been more apt. Accustomed to getting their own way, consumers expect brands to act in a certain way, regardless of whether or not it aligns with their own personal actions.
Motivational branding: consumers are increasingly looking for brands that help them achieve personal goals.
An example of this from June 2014 is Russian financial institution Alfa Bank’s new account service, which motivates customers to exercise by connecting their accounts with a fitness tracker. For each step they take, money is transferred to a higher interest savings account.
Feel good commerce: associations with yuppie culture have made conspicuous consumption a dirty term, especially with millennials and younger consumers. Translating purchases into good deeds is one way in which brands are responding.
Favoire is a fashion e-commerce site launched in December 2014 that allows customers to donate a certain amount of their final total to charitable causes. The retailer currently supports two partner causes with a focus on women’s rights and education.
In the field: an increasing number of brands are partnering with governmental bodies and charitable organisations to offer aid and assistance where it’s needed most.
An example of this is anti-bacterial cleaning brand Dettol’s partnership with online taxi hailing company Easy Taxi. Together they aim to heighten Ebola awareness in Nigeria by training local taxi drivers to talk about the disease with their passengers.
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