What’s coming in 2013? Think technology.
That's the overriding theme of JWT's annual trends to watch
December 6, 2012
Technology has been encroaching on our lives for some time, with e-readers, smartphones and QR codes nearly every place you look. But 2013 may be the year that tech really takes over. From privacy hacking, or consciously creating social media-free zones, to mobile fingerprints, in which the phone morphs from communication device to wallet to keys to health device, technology will be not just a part of our lives but a major player. That’s according to the predictions from JWT, which releases an annual top 10 list predicting what the hot trends will be in the coming year. Though not every prediction has a tie to technology, most do, whether they’re predicting future innovations or predicting what impact current tech trends will have on our lives. Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT, talks to Media Life about why the agency chose these trends, how last year’s trends played out, and why these trends should matter to media buyers.
How did you feel your forecast for 2012 trends held up? Anything stand out as a good or not-as-good prediction?
Any trends with real significance can't be assigned to just one calendar year. The trends we explore on an annual basis have significant weight and momentum, and indicate shifts that are likely to be with us for a while. That is why we track our trends from past forecasts on an ongoing basis.
As for our 2012 trends, we continue to see them play out in new and numerous ways.
"Celebrating Aging" is one of those trends. Last year, we observed: "Popular perceptions of aging are changing, with people of all ages taking a more positive view of growing older. As demographic and cultural changes, along with medical advances, help to shift attitudes, we’ll redefine when ‘old age’ occurs and what the term means."
This year we saw that development reflected in product development, marketing and entertainment. Earlier this year, for instance, MAC cosmetics launched a collaboration with 91-year-old style standout Iris Apfel. The collection is inspired by colors favored by Apfel, a longtime interior and textile designer who's come into the spotlight in her twilight years.
We also saw the critically acclaimed movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"—described by Time as "a charming celebration of aging"—become a surprise box-office hit. The film by director John Madden follows a group of British retirees moving to India to live in an old hotel and features acting heavyweights Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, both of whom turn 78 this year.
Another trend from our 2012 forecast, "Objectifying Objects," continues to gain momentum. As objects get replaced by digital/virtual counterparts, we’re seeing more people fetishize the physical and tactile. This is giving rise to "motivational objects," or items that accompany digital property to increase perceived value, and digital tools that enable creation of physical things.
This past year, for instance, we noted an increase in a range of new services that allow people to get to grips—literally—with their social media output, turning it into real-world items.
MOO Inc. offers business cards created from Facebook users’ Timeline images and data, using the same fonts and layout; it includes the person’s Facebook URL. The Twitter poster re-creates the customer’s profile picture using his or her tweets. And Stitchtagram is a service that crafts handmade pillows using fabric printed with the customer’s Instagram shots.
Are there any common ties between all or most of the trends?
In our eighth annual forecast, new technology continues to take center stage, as we see major shifts tied to warp-speed developments in mobile, social and data technologies.
Many of our trends reflect how businesses are driving, leveraging or counteracting technology’s omnipresence in our lives, and how consumers are responding to its pull. We also put a spotlight on health, with two separate trends examining the rising awareness around the impact of stress and happiness on well-being and how businesses are addressing it.
How might 2013 trends play a role in our daily lives?
Trends have the ability to change consumer attitudes and behaviors. Take our "Peer Power" trend, for instance, which examines how, as the peer-to-peer marketplace expands in size and scope—moving beyond goods to a wide range of services—it will increasingly upend major industries, from hospitality and education to tourism and transportation.
Just 10 years ago—or just five years ago for most—it would be hard to imagine sleeping on a stranger’s couch or sharing a ride with a stranger. But with the growing popularity of P2P hospitality services like Airbnb and Wimdu and P2P transportation solutions like Lyft and SideCar, these behaviors are gaining acceptance. This has been driven by the rise of social media, cooperative consumption and the trust economy, among a variety of other factors.
Millennials are also driving this movement: having grown up using social media tools from a young age, these digital natives tend not to question peer-to-peer transactions, nor transactions made online or via mobile.
Still, while it’s the Millennials who tend to be most open to and enthusiastic about the P2P services, the market has the ability to draw in consumers across all segments. Some may be driven by the affordability, others by the novelty aspect, others by practical concerns—e.g., a P2P assistance service like TaskRabbit could be just as appealing for an elderly person who needs help with errands as it is for a busy entrepreneur.
Why is trend forecasting important for media people?
In a world of hyper-abundant information and constant innovation, it’s important to be on top of changes in the global zeitgeists so as to convert those shifts into compelling opportunities. Media people can leverage trends in an opportunistic way for communications, product, brand and business development.
Being trend-aware helps to inspire, instigate and inform ideas beyond brand, category and consumer conventions. It also allows businesses to stay ahead of their competitors, meeting emerging consumer needs and wants before anyone else does.
Why has stress become such a huge factor in our lives? Why is more attention being paid to it, and does it have anything to do with the economy the past few years?
While life has always been filled with stressors big and small, these are mounting and multiplying: We’re entering the era of super stress. And as stress gets more widely recognized as both a serious medical concern and rising cost issue, governments, employers and brands alike will need to ramp up efforts to help prevent and reduce it.
Let’s face it, life is getting more and more stressful. The threat of terrorism has increased around the world; the weather is getting more extreme, bringing superstorms, droughts and record heat waves; and today’s complex, globalized financial systems have wrought havoc with economies. At the same time, factors like hyper-speed technology and high-stakes competitiveness are making daily life more challenging.
The economy is one of the leading causes of today’s heightening stress. With the global downturn still a grim reality, many people continue to face a daunting job market and difficulties making ends meet. Those who do have jobs may be without full benefits, in make-do jobs rather than a chosen profession, or filling multiple roles for an employer who’s cutting costs. In some markets, the rising cost of living, deflated home values and diminished retirement portfolios only add to the stress.
In a survey we conducted in the U.S. and UK in November, the top three stressors cited by respondents were economic: the cost of living (75 percent said this contributes to their stress levels on a regular basis), personal finances (75 percent) and the current state of the economy (70 percent). In addition, half the sample pointed to their job and their family’s job security as contributing to their stress, and four in 10 said their own job security stressed them out.
What is predictive personalization?
"Predictive Personalization" is the idea that, as data analysis becomes more cost efficient, the science gets more sophisticated and consumers generate more measurable data than ever, brands will increasingly be able to predict customer behavior, needs or wants—and tailor offers and communications very precisely.
For example, as a part of its "Know Me" program, British Airways relies on a database of passenger info it gathered from many sources over several years to give highly personalized service to its VIP frequent flyers.
How key will mobile phones be to Americans in 2013? How does this compare to other countries?
This question speaks to the trend we refer to as "The Mobile Fingerprint." Our smartphones are evolving to become wallets, keys, health consultants and more. Soon they’ll become de facto fingerprints, our identity all in one place.
Let’s talk about one element of this for a minute: the mobile wallet. Enabled by NFC [near field communication], RFID [radio frequency identification] and other technologies, the smartphone is evolving into a virtual wallet that can be used like cash and also store bank cards, loyalty cards and business cards. Myriad global players are maneuvering to snag a piece of this market, lured in part by the prospect of collecting reams of valuable consumer data. In the next several years, a few leading players will emerge out of the "wallet wars" of today.
While the mobile wallet has been slower to come to fruition than some initially forecast, the necessary technology is coming onboard and consumers are growing more open to the idea.
By 2017, Berg Insight estimates that penetration of NFC-enabled point-of-service terminals will reach 86 percent in North America, 78 percent in Europe and 38 percent in the rest of the world. And Juniper Research predicts that by 2017, more than a quarter of mobile users in the U.S. and Western Europe will be paying in-store using NFC, and that NFC-assisted payments will grow by seven-fold, to more than $180 billion globally.
The mobile wallet is already established in some markets, notably in Africa with M-Pesa, launched by Safaricom in 2007 in Kenya, where it now has 15 million-plus customers and completes around 165 million transactions every month. The service enables users to deposit, withdraw and transfer money using a basic mobile phone. It has spread around Africa, and similar services are being tested in India and Brazil. In Japan, a quarter of mobile users manage their finances and pay for products with their phone, according to TNS. Markets in Asia are generally ahead of this curve, with infrastructure for mobile payments installed everywhere from train stations to taxis and vending machines.
In Europe, Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere (EE) are partnering on an NFC wallet, code-named Project Oscar, which received regulatory approval from the European Commission in September. Quick Tap is a competing product developed by Orange and Barclaycard in the U.K.
In the U.S., Google Wallet launched in 2011 and has forged partnerships with 25 U.S. retailers so far and the major credit card brands; users input credit or debit card details into the app, then pay in stores by tapping their smartphone to a payment terminal. Big players including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have collaborated to create Isis, an NFC-based alternative that recently launched in two markets and has agreements with major credit card brands and some key banks, including Chase and Capital One. Isis is also a hub for loyalty cards and coupons.
As I said, the mobile wallet speaks to only one element of our "Mobile Fingerprint" trend, but you can be sure that, as our smartphones consolidate a widening range of data and tools, they will become even more integral to our lives and a reflection of our selves.
What is privacy hacking and why is it important?
We call this trend "Going Private in Public." In an era when living publicly is becoming the default, people are coming up with creative ways to carve out private spaces in their lives. Rather than rejecting today’s ubiquitous social media and sharing tools outright, we’re reaping all the benefits of maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining and managing a new notion of privacy for the 21st century.
Consumers are quickly coming to realize that ultimate control of their online privacy is out of their hands—even for those who diligently tweak the privacy settings on their profiles. With a few lines of code, web titans can destroy carefully walled gardens, turning the task of maintaining the desired degree of privacy into an onerous chore. While Facebook users have periodically taken to posting privacy or copyright notices under the mistaken impression that these declarations will protect them, users remain subject to the social network’s terms of service.
It’s not just the web powers that be that can toy with a person’s public persona, however—it’s also tag-happy, share-happy friends who don’t realize that just because something is public information or done in public doesn’t mean people want it publicized.
So the social-media savvy are finding ways to put some privacy back into their public lives, pruning friends lists, hosting photo-free "dark rooms" at parties to deter social media–sharing and creating Facebook pseudonyms to avoid the prying eyes of employers and others.
This is a compelling opportunity for brands, as they can amplify these existing behaviors.
Argentina’s Norte Beer, for instance, found a clever way to ensure that "What happens in the club stays in the club" with an amusing innovation: a beer cooler that keeps drinkers safe from paparazzi-in-training. Distributed to various bars around Argentina, the Photoblocker emits a bright light when it detects the flash from a photo, making any images unusable. Nearby drinkers can safely party without fear of wide exposure.
What do you mean by everything is retail?
Shopping is shifting from an activity that takes place in physical stores or online to a value exchange that can play out in multiple new and novel ways. Thanks largely to advances in mobile technology, almost anything—from billboards to bus shelters to print magazines—has the ability to be transformed into a retail channel.
For instance, shoppable walls are starting to appear everywhere. One of the many instances of this phenomenon comes from Mattel and Walmart Canada, which created a "virtual pop-up toy store" for this holiday season in Toronto’s underground walkway, featuring two walls of 3D toy images with QR codes that consumers could scan with their phones to purchase.
And then there are shoppable videos, which allow viewers to simply click through to order goods, which have been created by a range of marketers, from Barneys, Neiman Marcus and Gucci to Levi’s and Kmart. In fall 2012, for instance, Target launched a 12-minute episodic film featuring actresses Kristen Bell and Nia Long alongside some of its fashion, beauty and home products.
This trend runs the gamut, extending to TV, magazines, social media, store windows and more.
JWT's top trends to watch for in 2013:
1. INTELLIGENT OBJECTS: Everyday objects are evolving into tech-infused smart devices.
2. PLAY AS COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: Playtime for grown-ups – unstructured play is not just for kids, but adults too! This free and creative time will beget more imagination and innovation.
3. THE SUPER STRESS ERA: Sure, we’ve always been stressed but as stress gets more widely recognized as both a serious medical concern and rising cost issue, governments, employers and brands will need to ramp up efforts to help prevent and reduce it.
4. PREDICTIVE PERSONALIZATION
5. THE MOBILE FINGERPRINT: Smartphones are wallets, keys, health consultants and more. “NoMoPhobia” is the fear of being without one’s phone. In India, some people display their phone number at their door rather than their name.
6. SENSORY EXPLOSION: This year, Dunkin’ Donuts installed a technology in buses in Seoul that released coffee aromaswhenever the brand’s jingle was played on the radio.
7. EVERYTHING IS RETAIL
8. PEER POWER
9. GOING PRIVATE IN PUBLIC
10.HEALTH & HAPPINESS: HAND IN HAND – What’s your HHQ, or Happily Healthy Quotient?
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