Originally posted by The Guardian.
As every new year approaches, trendspotters go into hyperdrive. We look for what I like to call “future headlines” and marketer Seth Godin calls “idea viruses”—the new concepts that happen when large numbers of people are in close contact and things are changing fast. Today, that’s every single day.
And marketers need to keep up, which is a big task. That’s one reason my agency, Havas PR, publishes trend reports about what’s on the near and distant horizons. Here are some highlights of our UK and global forecast.
The UK general election will change the communications landscape
My colleague Steve Marinker, managing director of Havas PR UK in London, reports that this year’s general election is unpredictable, with a new force in British politics (Ukip) and the fragile coalition rapidly disintegrating. Why does this matter to marketers?
Steve explains: “If the last US election was lost and won on Twitter, this year’s UK election might be lost and won on Snapchat and Instagram. Following the Scottish referendum, younger people are engaging with the political process much more, despite, or perhaps because of, Russell Brand’s exhortations to reject the establishment. With Twitter and Facebook declining, political parties will expand their use of other platforms.”
At last, big data has a practical use
Predictive analytics is the new buzz phrase. The practice allows marketers to use the vast amounts of real-time data they mine from consumers, along with customer insight, to predict future events. Data from loyalty programmes, for example, allows stores to analyse past buying behaviour and predict which coupons or promotions a customer is most likely to use. Predictive analytics could also be applied to website browsing behaviours to deliver a personalised online experience. But proceed with caution: consumers are wary of Big Brother watching.
Everything will be Uberised
“The Uber of” is probably the world’s most popular business concept. The pitch gets the point across. If you say “the Uber of bicycles” or “the Uber of grocery delivery” everyone knows what you’re selling. Plus it sounds cool. Vice recently reported that British companies are in a race to become the Uber of something, with at least six recently launching in laundry alone.
Small (business) is the new big
We all know the narrative: entrepreneur comes up with hot idea, launches startup, works non-stop in the garage, gains traction, has an IPO, and pockets megabucks. And the counternarrative: there’s simply more job security in working for someone else. In a Financial Times op-ed on the need for business schools to adapt to the UK’s “startup surge”, Michael Hayman wrote: “Rather than a nation of Goliaths, the UK has emerged as a home for legions of small-business Davids”. Michael’s point is supported by the fact that the UK was the 14th most entrepreneurial nation in the world on the Global Entrepreneurship Index for 2013, but for 2015 it climbed to number four.
Borders disappear between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C)
Rob van Beek, CEO of Havas Worldwide Amsterdam, pointed this one out. Now that we all see ourselves as brands, we’re all in business, even as we’re consumers. Stakeholders don’t fit neatly into boxes. What’s more important than the old distinctions is H2H: human-to-human.
Media agencies will lead the way
This hits home for me, since I see PR falling into media agencies in this age of created, earned and paid placements. Richard Dunmall in Media Week recently named agency role as a top trend for 2015, citing the fact that MediaCom, iProspect and MEC all joined the Content Marketing Association: “It’s clear media agencies are blurring the once clear lines between themselves and advertising agencies.” Agency search consultant Avi Dan, writing on Forbes.com, explains: “Today creativity is the currency of an effective media placement. Media agencies will be moving from being media-facing to consumer-facing … They will become their clients’ key strategic partner, even more so than creative agencies, as big data and technology make ‘Math Men’ the most important asset of marketers.”
Chief marketing officers (CMOs) will become chief simplifier officers
Dan also argues that companies create needless complexity by reorganising themselves into “endless new vertical silos”. To increase connection with consumers, he says, CMOs need to think holistically about the value their brand will deliver to customers and integrating messages “across business units, geographies and functional groups”.
Chief financial officers (CFOs) will become chief frontier officers
Virtual reality, augmented reality, new social sites, new technology platforms—it’s tough to keep up. And consumers are getting increasingly fickle. James Wright, managing director of Red Agency Australia and Havas PR APAC, says CFOs must shake up their mindset, develop more innovative strategies, take risks and seek new paths to central growth.