Our CEO and Co-Owner, Meabh Quoirin reports on the consumer themes for marketing in 2018 as presented in our popular annual global report, Trending 2018.

 

The filter bubble – for better, or worse?

There is no escaping the filter bubble. Popularised in the wake of unprecedented political events in 2016, our appetite for self-perpetuating opinion and ‘reality’ has only but intensified. Just a glance at our US consumer data confirms how polarised consumer-citizen appetites have become and this extends to just about every trend opportunity, every socio-cultural experience that a brand might care to curate for its audience. Instead of looking at it from a binary perspective, it helps to think of the filter bubble as an echo chamber in which consumers voluntarily involve themselves. The data speaks for itself, for instance 58% are looking for better tailored recommendations to read or watch from news sites. Some will find a way through the filter bubble – such as the New Statesman pop up website in the run up to the 2017 UK General Election and media will continue to battle with fake news. Some will champion clarity for their particular values and consumer audience – such as Illamasqua, the makeup brand with a Human Fundamentalism pledge, which states that it refuses to sell to anyone who supports Trump or holds his values. But for the majority of brands, the filter bubble is more than ever, a streamline view of the consumer and a pathway for brands to market to their multiple targets. It’s not simply good or bad, it’s a platform that should be utilised. All the more reason to truly understand your audience and interact with every segment with more precision than ever before.

 

 

Brexit and Britain

We decided that it would be imperative to investigate the ongoing impact of Brexit on British brands. One aspect of this was the keynote my co-CEO, Christophe Jouan, gave on Brand Britain, which looked into how consumers in the UK and abroad currently, and would likely, view ‘Made in Britain’. Surprisingly, consumer views are not at all linked to their vote in the referendum. At first glance, one might be concerned than on top of a tricky political landscape to navigate, just 61% of Britons are proud of their nationally produced goods, compared to 73% of Americans, 76% of Germans and 86% of mainland Chinese. Moreover, there is a majority of British consumers who simply remain ambivalent to Brand Britain. Even among those who would champion an overtly British branded product or service, this is likely to be driven by a motivation to support the economy, than say an emotional connection to British produce.

This is unlikely to change unless Brexit negotiations swing in Britain’s favour and therefore, one might exercise caution when making use of the ‘Made in Britain’ label. There are of course, also some internal advantages in doing so, among particular British segments and perhaps globally in developing economies like China, who hold relatively high regard for ‘Britishness’. We recommend a closer look at the data for any brand working with British values.

Empathy

An overarching theme of our conference was empathy – ever more obligatory in the rise of hard data and the risk of a consumer feeling like just another customer in the queue. There is serious opportunity for those who can humanise automated innovation, from Querlo’s chatbot that aims to emotionally engage users to Sensum’s biometric technology that illustrates consumer’s emotions leading to critical insight.

Empathy isn’t only engineered through technology but there is no question that it helps. We uncovered six empathy inspired trends as perhaps, more importantly a means to tap into consumers’ personality at scale. They culminate as a call to action, one that we’ve been tracking over multiple global waves of data.

Factor analysis helped us isolate three key motivational states around which people’s personality patterns, both real and aspirational, tend to cluster: closeness, empowerment and excitement. And at the heart of empathy is authenticity – assimilating this characteristic into a brand’s identity means going beyond the one-off campaign and feeding this into every aspect of the business.

Never Normal: Automation

The term we’ve coined that embodies all of the sentiment and digital evolution discussed above, is Never Normal. This is the decade succeeding the ‘New Normal’ era that has just passed and a state that’s not defined by a singular but a range of events that create a long term sense of instability. One of the critical pillars of this is automation. 52% of people believe that companies should prioritise employing humans over robots.

The message is clear: more than ever, it’s up to brands to facilitate security, engage consumers emotionally, and deliver empathy. How can businesses do this? We invite you to enjoy our Trending 2018 report here to get started.

 

This post was originally published on LinkedIn