Planning thoughts for the year ahead…
Green/ethical agenda will start to come back
Before the recession, awareness and understanding of key ethical and environmental issues were increasingly starting to gain traction and influence motivations and purchasing decisions. This was blown out of the water by the age of austerity and fear of the unknown; people stopped spending on anything not considered essential and traded down to lower priced goods.
As the economy starts to recover (or people just get fed up of the recession), these issues will start to seep back into public discourse and consciousness. Brands that start building their ethical credentials now will reap the benefits over the next few years as people start switching back.
People become more divided on privacy
As digital natives grow up used to a world where nothing is sacred, they will become experts at managing their public profiles. At the same time, older generations, used to understanding privacy as a fundamental human right will be more resistant to the increasing availability of information and begin to react against it.
The controversial changes to privacy settings on Facebook this year surfaced and underlying debate on how the internet is changing our access to information and we’ve only seen the beginning of it. The gap between these two attitudes will widen and the issue will come to a head.
Kinect enables a whole new world of opportunities and improvements to people’s lives
Whilst a very exciting development for the gaming community, Kinect for Xbox 360 was hacked within 3 hours of its European release and the geeks have already started coming up with lots of fun hacks. It’s only a matter of months or even weeks before people start to develop more useful applications of this technology that help make a genuine difference to consumer’s every day lives. As an example, the system both can lip-read as well as recognise sign language which means there is huge potential as a communication tool for deaf and disabled people.
Blurring the lines between fiction and reality
Driven by the human need to escape and understand ourselves through the lens of fiction, art and life have always crossed over in some ways. However, new technology, new genres and more experiential forms of marketing are facilitating new and interesting ways of bringing fiction to life in the real world and adding a little bit of ourselves to fictional scenarios.
A great example of the fictionalisation of real life is the new reality show The Only Way is Essex (similar concept to The Hills in the U.S.) which features characters in Essex acting out modified scenarios from their own lives. Equally, fictional works from novels to plays to films to games are increasingly seeking to involve audiences by bring the world of the fiction to life in the real world. Examples of this include Secret Cinema and movie release campaigns including the Dark Knight and District 9. We will see this get bigger in scale and more creative next year.
We’ve already had the likes of Levis, Uniqlo and Diesel dabbling in shopping with other people involved. Either by getting friends involved in purchase decisions or using crowds to drive down prices. I think we will see this really take off next year with new ideas and ways to get more people involved in buying online and in store.
A tough year for the press
National newspapers in particular have really struggled this year to define their role in our media consumption and find a way to make a profit. Whether they’ve chosen to go down the same road as Rupert Murdoch and erect a pay wall around their content or simply continue to attract advertising funding, the problem isn’t going to go away and is likely to ramp up considerably in the next year. There really doesn’t seem to be much light on the horizon other than the odd mobile app, increasingly specialised content or a Huffignton Post style model of news aggregation.
Temporarily renewed national pride (UK)
Britain will come together on April 29th and despite the cynics, the cuts and the recession, it will be tricky for most people to avoid being caught up in a huge feeling of national pride and idealism that the country hasn’t seen for decades. Criticism of the institution will temporarily relax and clever companies will be able to ride the wave of elation and take advantage of marketing opportunities to a mass audience who are slightly more open than usual to hearing about brands (provided the message is communicated in a relevant and engaging way).