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The trends you need to know for 2014

Which trends do marketers need to keep a close on in 2014?  Which are set to rock our worlds, and which are losing their potency? Future Foundation has created a top 10 trends we believe are set to shape the consumer landscape over the coming year.

2013 was a year of much-needed stabilisation for the UK – predictions for the economy slowly started to become optimistic (well, less pessimistic); house prices began to rally; consumer spending growth moved up out of the doldrums to… somewhere just above the doldrums; GDP grew at a modest but not unhappy 1.4%. The interesting outcome of all this is that several of our top trends for 2013 were reinforced – Ish!, for example, which speaks to a growing consumer promiscuuity in an age where there are fewer obligations on us to stay loyal to brands; or Society of Sobriety where we examine the creeping preference for moderate living and self-regulation of indulgence.

So what’s to come in the year ahead? The trends to watch in 2014 are:

  • Recovery Blues : Many consumers will continue to need diplomatic encouragement to spend from brands
  • The Death of Risk : Risk is the new evil and safety the new morality,  with under-24s one of the least ‘leap-in-the-dark’ generations we have ever seen
  • Narrative Data : Consumers expect their data to be transformed, real-time, into a personalised plan. We want  Big Data to tell us useful stories about our lives
  • Power of Anon : As Big Data becomes Big Reality, social networkers will look to platforms that facilitate more selective sharing – sharing that is public yet also private
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall : Brands create immersive experiences for synaesthetic moments of delight
  • Probability Gets Personal : Consumers harness predictive technologies to pre-empt and prioritise decisions
  • Catwalk Computing : Wearable connectivity allows technology to reach into the very fabric of our lives
  • Once Is Not Enough : No single age – or life stage – is any longer defined by a pre-packaged set of expectations and behaviours
  • Wired Guanxi : A more human face – Soft Power – for e-commerce and Big Data
  • The Versat-Aisle Shopper : Retail experiences that flow naturally between home and store, street and aisle, mobile and market
  • Totally Bespoke : Techno-innovation drives ultra-personalisation and a new route to premiumisation

Download FREE sample trend decks for the UK, the USA and Global on our website – just click the links.  Clients should have received the whole deck, let us know if not.

Happy Christmas from all at Future Foundation!

Will’s Tech Spot: Breaking the Fourth Wall

Will Seymour, our resident tech-head, introduces a brand new nVitro trend in which we explore how retail spaces can become truly experiential – giving the concept of a flagship store a serious image overhaul.

We often find ourselves discussing the resilience of physical shopping habits when faced with the onslaught of online retail. There are some things, we know, that people seem to simply never purchase without seeing in person; in other cases, a flagship store presents a bastion of brand that cannot be replicated digitally (yet). 5th Avenue and Oxford Street haven’t disappeared for two reasons: 1) there are important parts of retail that experts failed to acknowledge when predicting the death of the high street, and 2) brands are emphasising exactly these aspects in their high street footprints. This we have referred to as Retail Reloaded.

Right now I’m investigating a whole host of new design philosophies that point to the exciting new ways in which brands could be building their stores. We know, now, that the experience of shopping is such an important part of the activity; simultaneously, numerous art exhibitions and public space have been experimenting with synaesthesia, multi-sensory, experiential interior and exterior design. Put these two trajectories together – I think the idea of the concept store is about to reach a whole new level.

Let’s take some examples. The recent Rain Room (pictured), seen in New York’s MOMA as well as London’s Barbican, is an opportunity to experience rainfall that responds to your movements: a storm that shields you dry.

Elsewhere, artists are playing with artificial light, modelling natural constructs – stars, suns, snowfall – in dynamic illuminated sculptures. With artists saturating every sense by filling spaces with interactive elements, sounds and light, can’t brands be doing the same?

Take a flagship store today. It’s likely designed to look clean, modern, luxurious. Why can’t we have a Rain Room in a sportswear store? Or a subtle breeze with a whiff of meadow? Or the hint of a reddening sunset moving across the floor? It is these elements – these experiential cues – that really make us want to grab a pair of trainers and pound the pavements.

The need to meaningfully connect with customers is an arms race of powerful messages and penetrative branding. Breaking the Fourth Wall – making space come alive – beats to this tune: the necessity for valuable emotional reward performed for consumers willing to exchange their time; a unique reward for custom.

Have you visited a space that really struck you? What was it that reached you? Could it be replicated?

For more on this trend or any Future Foundation trend, visit our website www.futurefoundation.net or contact karenc@futurefoundation.net

From Content to Commerce

Was the title of this year’s Festival of Media Global 2013. We were lucky enough to take on the challenge, along with many major brands – ASOS, Unilever, Viacom, Visa, LinkedIn – to name but a few, of responding to that statement on stage. Subsequently, in proud partnership with Festival of Media, we’ve created the first Festival of Media Intelligence File, released today and accessible here. Naturally it’s a must read.

Why is content to commerce such a potent theme? Well there’s the pressure to deliver on commercial results from any which we way but there’s no doubt that long standing resistance to marketing is making it very hard to engage with consumers unless they weave themselves into the narrative of consumers’ lives. By narrative we don’t just mean the story of course, it’s altogether more personal, more profound than that these days. Consumers need to be willing to invite brands as a partner in their daily activities – and even exchange with brands to the point that they understand our very identities. What could be more intrusive than that? Cue lots of conflict; how much of an online relationship can brands really expect beyond a ‘like’ for a viral video here and a nod to a very tidy voucher deal there. The content and commerce approach we mostly see  feels a bit easy come and easy go, with very little of it really striking the heart of the matter.

One critical trend for any brand hoping to tackle this is Consumer Capital. It’s our contention that tracing consumer steps (Big Data) to produce an altogether more meaningful and appropriate digital exchange is all well and good but it will quickly need to engage the consumer in personal terms that signal a genuine conversation. Powerful algorithms and opt-in strategies can only take us so far.

Content to commerce will generate all sorts of new and successful strategies and the report references many brilliant case studies. But it won’t replace the old rules of engagement either. While on the surface the stats show a lot of positive attention towards online content and multi channel strategies, for any brand to capitalise on current experimentation, it will need to constantly refer back to basics. And that means really understanding what drives and what  will continue to drive consumer identity. As you will know, this is the heart of why Future Foundation matters.

For more information or a copy of the report, visit the Future Foundation website; or contact Josie Watson on 020 3008 4889/ josiew@futurefoundation.net

Luxury in China: the new normal?

Marc Jacobs, Hermes and Gucci have two things in common : they all sell luxury goods and they are all making headway in China.

As the Chinese economy looks set to record a growth rate in excess of 8% in 2013, these brands have every reason to believe they are moving into fertile territory. However, it is not China’s growth rate per se that should be concerning Western marketers, but the composition of its GDP. There remain widespread concerns that China’s economy is too reliant on state enterprise and investment; and with official statistics reporting that private consumption accounted for just 35% of total GDP in 2012, these are not without justification.

It is against this cautious backdrop that I turn to recent calculations by Morgan Stanley, who found that private consumption actually accounted for 46% of total GDP last year - and this figure is rising. If correct, this points to a significant rebalancing of the Chinese economy and, potentially, to a wealth of opportunity for providers of consumer goods.

A small caveat is necessary at this juncture, however. Significant numbers of firms within emerging markets are also attempting to service middle-class demands, which is intensifying competition and saturating the market. Note here the success of Chinese brands Chery and Lenovo, who are both satisfying domestic appetites while also seeing their footprint grow internationally.

Those firms seeking to make a foray into China will do well to heed the challenges facing and opportunities awaiting them. For whilst The Rebalancing of Global Power is undoubtedly underway, brands must endeavour to speak loudly to aspiration if they are to appeal to the middle-class and High Net Worth psyche in this increasingly crowded marketplace. But for those deciding to undertake such a venture, rest assured that private consumption as a proportion of GDP in China remains a long way behind other mature markets, and this figure is only going one way.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to benefit from the high net worth global tribe, Future Foundation is hosting an event on this topic at the Financial Times’ offices on 26th April. For more details, please contact Pippa Goodman (pippag@futurefoundation.net 020 3008 4889).

GUEST BLOG | The future of shopping is gender specific: 3 things you need to know

This month our guest blogger is Web Psychologist and Future Foundation nVoy Nathalie Nahai. Nathalie helps businesses to psychologically optimise for better engagement online. Here she explores the gender differences in online behaviour and the important things brands need to know about consumer engagement.

The personalization of the web is one of the fastest growing online trends, and nowhere is this more prevalent than when we’re shopping. When it comes to ecommerce, there’s one area in particular you need to know about if you want to future-proof your business: the gender differences fueling online behaviours.

Falling under the umbrella of ‘individual psychology’, gender differences in how and why we shop have been well documented in the offline world, and now studies are discovering how these differences translate online. As with any research, it’s never one-size-fits-all, and there will always be exceptions to the rule. But if you’re targeting male and female shoppers, there are three things you absolutely need to know if you want to secure your e-tailing future:

1. Women are more sceptical

In general, women tend to be more sceptical of online information than men ([1] – 3(6), pp. 565–82), and perceive online shopping as more risky ([2] 57, pp. 768–75). They’re less likely to part with sensitive information (phone number, address etc), and generally need greater assurance that the site they’re visiting is trustworthy, credible and secure. Men, on the other hand, tend to be less concerned with privacy and are generally more comfortable parting with sensitive information ([3] – 4258, pp. 36–58).

nVision shows us that:
• 20% of men and 13% of women strongly/agree with the statement: “I don’t/wouldn’t worry about the security of banking on a mobile phone” (Disagree/ strongly: men 58%, women 69%)

2. Men shop online more than women

Believe it or not, men appear to be out-shopping their global female counterparts – and not only on desktops and laptops, but via smartphones too. Whether it’s because they get to avoid the tedium of malls or because it’s easier to do without leaving the comfort of your sofa, the rise of the affluent, online-shopping male is making headlines not only in research ([4]; [5] – 31(9), pp. 1-15] but also in the wider press ([6]). They’re also spending more on average than women, so if you’re selling your wares online it makes sense to target this market.

nVision data backs this up:

• “How often do you do each of the following internet activities (either on a desktop/laptop, mobile phone or tablet computer)? Buy a product/service online” – at least once weekly: men 41%, women 37%

3. Men do their research

You’ve probably suspected it for a while, but when it comes to online shopping, men really do like to do their research before they buy. Although we all rely on earned media (such as likes, ratings and reviews) to inform our purchasing decisions, it’s men who will go that extra mile to make sure their product really does stand up to scrutiny. And it’s not just adults – research shows that this phenomenon starts young, with boys more likely to refer to the internet before making a purchase than girls. Not only that, but they’re also more likely to be influenced by the reviews and comments they find online than their female peers ([7].

Turning to nVision, we see:
• 73% of men say “I shop around extensively to get the best deals”
• Our kids research reveals that 37% of boys and 34% of girls have compared prices online/ used a price comparison site

For more information, contact Karen Canty | karenc@futurefoundation.net.  For more on Nathalie Nahai’s work or her book Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion, visit her website www.thewebpsychologist.com.

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