As 2015 draws to a close, its time to look ahead to 2016. Of the various "Top Trends for 2016" articles I've read, I thought the most practical and most inspiring was Peter Fisk's Brand Kaleidoscope, here via Linked In. Below I pick out from Peter's 7 trends the ones I found most interesting for brandgym readers.
Trend 1: Space and Time
I think Peter is bang on when he says, "The two biggest priorities for the majority of people today are space and time." We do live ever busier lives, bombarded by more and more information from multiple screens. He goes on to suggest, "Every brand needs to think about how to address these two challenges. Not just to reduce time, but to enhance the value of time." He quotes Amazon Prime, that I have posted on recently here, as an example of a brand doing this well. The service offers free 24 hour delivery for members, and with Prime Now you can even get goods in 1 hour in certain cities. How can your brand help people get "value for time", not just value for money.
Trend 2: Simply better
Making products and services "simply better" is another theme I have posted on here, and it links to trend 1 about helping us make the most of space and time. As Peter points out, making things simple is actually hard: "Most things are complex because of lazy designers and marketers. We don’t make the effort to really understand what people want and don’t". I suggest Uber is an example of a service that is simple and easy to use, with only essential features that are intuitive and easy to use, such as "Split your Fare". A bad example is, surprisingly, the new Apple Music service, which is infuriatingly difficult to figure out and has pissed off many of the people I talk to about it! How can you make your brand "simply better", perhaps by reducing features, not increasing them.
This is another topic I am fascinated by. Peter suggestion is "To find ways in which digital makes physical experiences better, and vice versa. The challenge is to connect the two, not to see them as separate channels." In a post on this topic I have several examples, including online Youtuber Zoella publishing the fastest selling debut novel of all time, with sales of 320,000 real, physical books. How can your brand make the link between the digital and the physical?
Trend 4: Customers together
I agree with Peter people don't want to have a "relationship" with brands, or at least not with the vast majority. He suggests that people are more interested in talking to other people who share their interests and passions, in what he calls "C2C" relationships. "What customers are interested in is what your products do for them – not the running shoes, but running faster; not the kitchen machine, but cooking great food", he goes on to say.
While I agree with the C2C point, I suggest to companies I work with that they have two different ways of tapping into these "passion points" and helping communities share and collaborate
- DIY: A minority of brands have the resources, budget and brand appeal to create their own communities. An example is the thousands if not millions of people who use the Apple Support Community to solve problems
- "Fish where the fish are": many brands may be better off tapping into an existing community in order to sponsor content, advertise of find other ways to connect. For example, Knorr could build a presence on a cooking website or YouTube channel that is likely to have a much bigger reach than Knorr could ever create via a Knorr-branded DIY site.
How can your brand help tap into C2C relationships?
Trend 5: Millennial normality
I'm with Peter when he says we should "Stop being obsessed by Millennials". Agencies and consultancies love using fancy names for today's teenagers (Gen Z) and 20 somethings (Gen Y/Milllenials), creating a mirage that these groups are somehow completely different from the rest of the population and need specialists to help you interpret them and their language. Of course these young people have different habits and attitudes. Duh. This has always been the case. My suggestions:
- Don't be blinded or even scared by experts talking about Gen Z and Gen Y and how its all so complex and difficult to "get them". Talk to a few teenagers (there may be some in your house living with you). Listen in to their conversations as you taxi them around at the weekend. Try out some of their apps. Listen to some of the same music: some of it is OK. Really
- Think through which of the attitudes/beliefs and habits will spill over into the mainstream. For example, we are all becoming more visual and used to video as a medium, not just Gen Z. Your brand needs to adapt to keep up.
- As Peter says, older consumers have most of the cash. Be carful about chasing after Gen Z at the risk of alienating all the people who actually buy your product or service
So, there you have it. Some food for thought for 2016.
Thanks to all the people who have read the blog, especially those who took the time to tell us you enjoy it and find it useful. It is a lot of work, so its nice to know someone out there is reading!