Tom Goodwin,Director of the Tomorrow Group & Marketing Writer and Speaker:
When thinking about trends for 2015 for a new post…. ( which is now published here .. http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2014/nov/20/digital-marketing-trends-2015 ) …. I found some longer term shifts that I can feel developing and I wanted to take this chance to raise 6 themes worth consideration.
This post isn’t so much a proud proclamation of the future as a call for debate, perhaps some interesting dinner party conversation starters. What do you think?
I think the biggest changes for the next 4 years will be the following:
1) A Thinner Internet
The internet will become more seamless, more pervasive, personal and even predictive. It will spread across more devices but in thinner, more context specific layers.
From the notification layer on our phone, to “card” like app design, to apps that run invisibly in the background to wake only when required.
From fridges that on a glance show the weather, to clocks that show when we’re late with colours, to watches that tell us if we need to head right or left with a vibration. Amazon Echo as a ambient helper.
Our phones unlock in trusted places, our cars pick the coffee shop we may want, Siri, Cortana, Google now, all become personal assistants that guide us. Anticipatory or Predictive computing will be a huge development that we all talk about for the next few years as we begin to outsource our cognitive functions ( and trade privacy). Far fetched? How many phone numbers do you now know? What about birthdays?
We used to search the web, we used to go deep in, and navigate, in the near future the web bubbles up to a surface that we glance at, in more places and in less deep ways. It becomes key contextual information.
How can your business move into this thin layer, how does it become a contextual nudge or key information at the right time.
2) The post privacy age.
A generation of people simply won’t understand the concept of privacy. A generation of people who’ve grown up sharing geotagged images of their most personal moments, who’ve had every gmail read, who’ve lived with loyalty cards and financial dashboards won’t get for one second what was once possible, privacy.
Instead a generation of people will have grown up having traded it. Their Target app gave them bigger discounts, they used Facebook for free, they got retargeted ads from newspapers we once paid for.
From better healthcare from the analysis of anonymous healthcare, from more efficient smart cities from sharing user data, from thermostats that save energy by knowing where you are, or whether it’s Cortana or Google Lollypop becoming your personal assistant.
We will soon grow up in an age of near perfect information, and when we realize that when more people, know more things, there are some clear benefits, the topic won’t be about how we keep privacy but what we trade it for, where to draw the new line and how we learn to trust those with it.
What does this mean for marketers? How can they destroy assumptions about privacy, why can’t we offer more personal ads? What about more personal offers? Let’s think about how to reward people who chose to share data, it could be the new micro currency of the web.
3) The decline of the middle class in the developed world.
From Denver to Dover, Berlin to Bucharest, whether it’s the fault of the global economic downturn, quantitative easing, the internet or labor automation, it seems like a clear trend in rising income inequality and in particular the transfer of wealth upwards and it’s hard to see anything reversing this.
Will we somehow see more working and middle class jobs appearing? With the rise of automation, the global movements of talent and the rise of technology to make industry more efficient, it’s impossible to see this happening.
Will property ownership revert back to the masses? You’d be a fool to see how this can happen unless those in power stop serving their own interests.
The future “virtual” or real high street and mall from the future will be dominated by the extremes. From Burberry and Louis Vitton at the top, to the masses of bargain retailers, dollar stores, pound shops, payday loan and pawnshops of the bottom, it’s hard to see how anyone in the middle can survive. The only hope for survival are companies such as Achieve Finance and others which are ready to offer loans to people despite them having a bad credit score. As of now, they can be considered as the backbone of the middle class as despite the falling economy they still are helping people live a good and peaceful life.
The share price of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Sears, JC Penney testifies to this. Be careful where your consumer is going. The Middle is a terrible place to be.
4) Mature Money.
Advertising and marketing have always obsessed with the young, but never more so and never more pointlessly.
Not only do the young have less influence than the media would have us believe, but they also suffer from having relatively little money and no loyalty whatsoever.
Yet the everlasting debate is about how to target and segment millennials or digital natives, and never how to target the old.
The over 50’s now have over 80% of most developed nations wealth, they have more free time, look set to live far longer, are way healthier and more engaged in brands than before. Yet the world of marketing abandons them to look at the trendy money.
Youth finances have never looked worse, youth unemployment is high, the cost of living is crippling, university fees in many countries are staggering and their future looks massively uncertain.Meanwhile the baby boomers sit on assets rocketing in value, drawing healthy pensions well into the future, and look for ways to spend it.
The trend lines are clear, so what can your business do about it?
5) Non Ownership
A lot of history is cyclical, people react and rebel against our past. For a generation of people that grew up in an age of post war rations, economic hardship, expensive electrical items, we’ve seen the reaction in the ultimate in consumer boom. We can now buy massive TV’s for less than $400, that we need not replace for years. In real terms cars and clothing are incredibly cheap, we’ve chickens for 2 dollars, the only thing that is expensive and limited is time.
A generation of people who’ve grown up with this abundance may turn against it. The most expensive and best phone in the world is $1000, the most most appropriate laptop costs the same. Armed with these devices we need not buy a 100 items they now replace. From the sharing economy making renting trendy, to a group of people unable to buy houses and that don’t see the stigma in renting, to hardware that becomes new due to software updates, to the digitization and streaming of once physical items. It could be we’re on the verge of a new type of consumerism, where armed with a past of excess, a present of limited finances and a future of resource scarcity, we chose to own fewer, better, more adaptable items.
Sadly Humans are not built to last as long, the sort of ultimate in built-in-obsolescence and as we age, we do so asymmetrically.
When expensive modern medicine is able to keep people alive for longer, with ever diminishing returns, at what point do we accept that an aging unproductive population isn’t sustainable.
What becomes of the new retiring age? When do we agree to treatments? what constitutes action that is in the interest of the person? What does this mean for countries with government provided healthcare?
It’s a bit grim to dwell on it and the marketing implications are less clear, so just a philosophical issue to chat about and think about for the holiday dinner party season.
Hope you liked them, this is a call for debate, not a proclamation of the fixed, so what do you think? What other issues do you forsee?