The best 2017 trend reports … inspired by Alibaba’s Buy+, Google’s Tilt Brush and Momondo’s DNA Journey

December 12, 2016

Trend reports are everywhere at this time of year. What matters is the underlying patterns. Futurists are all about pattern recognition, and being able to decipher the important, emergent signals amidst the fads and fashions, and all the trend talk. Why does this matter? Well, because as hyped as it might sound, we will see more change in the next 5 years than we have in the last 250 years. The pace, and scale of change is dramatic, relentless, daunting and exciting.

The old approaches to strategy, innovation and marketing, just don’t work. We’re finally learning that we cannot extrapolate the future based on the past, treat markets as geographic averages, and that the success models which have made us great, will not secure our continued success (we cannot just add 10% to last year’s plan!).

In recent months, I have done some amazing “growth hacking” projects recently. These are a combination of “future back” strategic visioning, and then horizon planning around a series of experimental trajectories to explore and win in the future.  This new approach to strategy, innovation and marketing challenges our old ways of working. They are driven more ideas and insights, but using a scientific method. Trends give us the codes, words and inspirations to move forwards.

Consumer Trends 2017 (with inputs from Trendwatching)

Trend 1: Virtual Experiences … Kevin Kelly observed that the maturing of VR, AR and mixed reality technologies heralds a fundamental shift: from an internet in which information is the basic unit of currency, to one in which experiences are. These digital experiences will quickly come to carry a status-weight equal to ‘real’ experiences, if not become more sought-after and prized. And yes, we know that’s a bold statement given most executives still consider digital experiences as more diverting than.

Examples: 2016’s Singles’ Day saw Alibaba launch Buy+, a virtual reality shopping experience. The demo video shows how Chinese shoppers could be transported to – and shop in – Macy’s in New York. The platform also launched an augmented reality shopping game “Catch a Cat” or its TMall platform, similar to Pokémon Go. Experiences are also about creating – Google’s Tilt Brush is an app for the HTC Vive VR headset. The app allows the user to ‘paint’ in three dimensions, using a simple handheld control as the brush. And can transform industries – ABBA, one band that resisted the temptation to reform, have just announced their 2018 virtual tour dates.

Trend 2: World’s Apart … Brexit. Trump. Duterte. Le Pen, the attempted coup in Turkey … 2016 saw the economic, social and cultural impacts of globalisation thrown into sharp relief.  This time, the narrative is framed by immigration, job automation, depressed wages, a deeply uneven recovery from the economic crisis, generational and racial divides, terrorism fears, the ongoing refugee crisis. One  direction for brands wanting actionable ideas about how to actually respond to this trend in 2017: purposeful brands will find renewed opportunities in helping people understand their changing relationship to home – be that their nation, city or neighbourhood. People, and similarly brands, will turn outwards (more global), or inwards (more local). Its hard to be both. And that’s the polarisation.

Examples: In June 2016, Copenhagen-based travel website Momondo posted a video that highlighted the hidden racial diversity that exists in all individuals, called The DNA Journey, showing people talking about their national pride, and then revealing to them their true multi-ethnic make up. Tiger Beer recently set up a pop-up store in New York’s Chinatown, seeking to redefine Asian stereotypes. The Tiger Trading Company store showcased products from the worlds of art, fashion, technology and design, representing over 700 artists from Asia.

Trend 3: Incognito Individuals …  Anonymity makes a comeback. Brands recognise non-traditional yet more authentic demographic segments (last month, 17-year-old makeup artist James Charles became the first male face of Covergirl); at the same time new volumes and sources of data are also taking many businesses closer to the nirvana of catering to a ‘segment of one’ at a mass scale (think Spotify’s Discover Weekly, which sees over 40 million users receive a unique playlist every Monday). While customers will welcome the greater relevance that comes with both these approaches, true flexibility and fluidity means there will still be moments where everyone wants to break out and explore. Without any prejudice, constraints or repercussions. As customers hand over more control to algorithms (or perhaps as they become increasingly aware of just how much their lives are already being shaped by these invisible and unquestionable forces – witness the Facebook news ‘filter bubble’ awakening), the urge to step outside one’s personal data-straightjacket will only grow is a platform for engineers to practice technical job interviews, announced a feature that disguises both the interviewer’s and candidate’s voices. Using Twilio’s cloud communications technology and proprietary voice software, the service alters voices to sound androgynous, add synthetic elements or sound like animals to eliminate interview bias. Users can reveal their identities should they want the interview process to continue.  Antipersona simulates the experience of being signed into Twitter as another person. Users can choose to simulate any Twitter account, and see the same timeline and notifications – for follows, mentions and retweets – as that Twitter user for 24 hours.

Trend 4: Capacity Capture …  The eco-friendliness of your products is now assumed. Meanwhile the sharing economy, peer-to-peer consumerism and the rise of access-over-ownership business models have radically recalibrated consumer expectations around utilization and waste. When you can pay to use cars by the minute, offices by the hour, eat food cooked by neighbours, then ‘traditional’ business processes suddenly start to look even more wasteful. Which is why smart brands will broaden their thinking around sustainability and turn their attention to finding and unlocking exciting new sources of value, or finding creative new ways to eliminate any wasted resource.

Examples: Nissan launched a scheme allowing UK-based owners of the Nissan LEAF car and e-NV200 electric van models to sell back their vehicle battery’s stored energy to the National Grid. Created in partnership with power company Enel, the Vehicle-2-Grid (V2G) system will be available at 100 charging units across the country, where the transactions can take place. São Paulo-based food bank Banco de Alimentos launched Reverse Delivery, to harness the power of the thousands of delivery drivers that return empty-handed after dropping off food. Participating restaurants (there are currently more than 35 signed up) ask the customer if they want to donate any food. The driver then collects the items from the customer when they deliver the meal and takes it back to the restaurant, where it is picked up by Banco de Alimentos and distributed to those in need.

Trend 5: Big Brother Brands … Convenience. Seamlessness. Relevance. Customer expectations of basic factors will reach new heights in 2017. And while in George Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother was a dystopian overlord, the relentless desire for magical levels of personalised service will meet new intelligent technologies and lead to a new generation of brands. But now we’ll willingly be watched. First, voice will replace touch as the primary interface. Baidu’s voice technology is now (three times) faster and more accurate than typing on a smartphone keyboard. Second, these intuitive interactions will converge with the rapidly improving capabilities of artificially intelligent assistants. One signal: users of digital virtual assistants are set to rise from 390 million in 2015 to 1.8 billion worldwide by 2021.

Examples: Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant. Once permission is granted, the USD 129 ‘always-on’ device connects to the user’s Google accounts and scan emails, calendars and files and photos uploaded to Google to check appointments, create lists, add items to a shopping list and more. Beijing-based tech firm Roobo unveiled Domgy in June 2016: a canine-like home robot that uses proprietary AI and facial recognition to recognize family members, play their preferred entertainment, alert the family to intruders, and more. Domgy rolls around and can navigate normal obstacles in a home and shallow steps, and  automatically goes back to its charging station when the battery is getting low.

Read more of Trendwatching’s trends here

Consumer Trends 2017 by JWT

  • AI art — Today’s artists are using emerging artificial intelligence technologies to create, curate and collaborate in ways that were impossible just a few years ago.
  • Augmented reality evolves — The surprise success of Pokémon Go has put augmented reality (AR) in the pockets of millions. As Apple and others plan AR initiatives, retailers and marketers are looking at the technology with fresh eyes.
  • Halal tourism — The tourism industry is waking up to the growing spending power of Muslim travelers, who represent a $220 billion market.
  • (Dis)ability advertising — Nearly one in five adults, or over 53 million people, in the United States have a disability, and that ratio is expected to grow. Advertising is finally starting to reflect that reality.
  • Marijuana: The new rosé? — Marijuana may be on its way to overtaking wine as the hip indulgence of choice for women, as accessories get high-end redesigns and more women go into cannabusiness.
  • Second skin — Researchers are uncovering new materials that create a “second skin” to restore natural elasticity and a youthful appearance.
  • Sleep renaissance — We’re in the midst of a soporific renaissance as innovators respond to our culture’s chronic undervaluation of sleep, and the “sleep space” gets the Silicon Valley treatment.
  • Artificial nature — Luxury hospitality brands are creating sophisticated manmade natural environments where guests can not only experience five-star service, but also enjoy an environment that would otherwise be unavailable.
Read JWT’s Future 100 report here

More trend reports:

  • Read Marian Salzman‘s trends from Havas here
  • Read Deloitte/WARC‘s marketing trends here
  • Read Ericsson‘s hot consumer trends here
  • Read Fjord’s trends from Accenture here
  • Read Frog Design‘s tech trends here
  • Read Entrepreneur Magazine trends here
  • Read Ford Motor Company‘s trends here

Marketing Trends 2017 by WARC

  • “Dark social” … Brands should prepare for all-in-one messaging apps … the emergence of a private chat functionality which has gone beyond simple sharing of messages and pictures, and the challenge of marketers to tap into the wealth of data available.
  • Digital Effectiveness … Three ways to balance reach and precision … the rise of social media and big data in creating opportunities to develop highly personalised marketing campaigns, and how, more recently, advertisers are starting to question whether precise targeting through digital channels is really more valuable than good ‘old-fashioned’ mass marketing.
  • VR and AR .. Brands need user testing to assess the value of VR and AR … how VR and AR’s usage is still in its infancy as a marketing tool, and must be adapted to fit the optimal user experience.
  • Video and Social … The way we think about video is changing … how brands need to understand how video fits into the broader customer journey, such as the transition from social to ecommerce, and how this journey from social to store allows brands to bring together data on what customers think and feel through social and connect this with purchasing behaviour.
    DTC and The Internet of Things … In search of a strategy for the IoT … how consumer goods brands continue to experiment with both direct-to-consumer and internet-enabled products, and how the challenges are now to learn from these tactical activities and evolve them into sustainable value-generating initiatives.
  • Artificial Intelligence …  The measure of intelligence is the ability to change … the use of AI as a mainstream experience aligned to customers’ expectations, and how organisations will need to understand when personalisation is reducing the power of their brand and in what situations a human is much better for the job.

Technology Trends 2017 by Gartner

  • Trend 1: Intelligent: Artificial intelligence and machine learning have reached a critical tipping point and will increasingly augment and extend virtually every technology enabled service, thing or application.  Creating intelligent systems that learn, adapt and potentially act autonomously rather than simply execute predefined instructions is primary battleground for technology vendors through at least 2020. Key trends: AI, machine learning, intelligent apps, intelligent things.
  • Trend 2: Digital: The lines between the digital and physical world continue to blur creating new opportunities for digital businesses.  Look for the digital world to be an increasingly detailed reflection of the physical world and the digital world to appear as part of the physical world creating fertile ground for new business models and digitally enabled ecosystems. Key trends: VR and AR, digital twin, blockchain.
  • Trend 3: Mesh: The mesh refers to the dynamic connection of people, processes, things and services supporting intelligent digital ecosystems.  As the mesh evolves, the user experience fundamentally changes and the supporting technology and security architectures and platforms must change as well. Key trends: Conversational systems, mesh app and service architecture, digital platforms, adaptive security architecture.

Read more about Gartner’s trends here

More trend reports:

And here are a few more trend reports in the smorgasbord of words, ideas, gimmicks and patterns that define the turning of every year:






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