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Trend Spotting for the New Year

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Increased immersion in technology — and increased questions about its effect on people’s lives and privacy. A rise in consumer expectations for speed. A shift to a visual vocabulary and the rise of telepathic technology. These, according to one trend forecast, will be among the main drivers of consumer behavior in 2014.

The forecast, “Ten Trends for 2014 and Beyond,” comes from marketing communications giant JWT. For the past nine years, the company has released its predictions of the key trends that will drive or impact consumer behavior in the new year and going beyond. It’s always an interesting read, and this year is no exception. One of the things that strikes me about the 2014 forecast is how it so clearly reflects the growing mixed feelings consumers have about technology. The dichotomy is one that retailers will have to learn how to balance going forward. “Consumers are both welcoming and resisting technology’s growing omnipresence in our lives ... those who are most immersed are starting to question its effect on their lives and their privacy,” said Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT, New York.

Here’s a quick overview of JWT’s trends:

1. Immersive experiences: Brand and entertainment will become more immersive and more enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention.

2. Speaking visually: The rise of photos, video snippets, emojis and other imagery is moving us to a visual vocabulary — and largely supplanting the need for text.

3. The age of impatience: Consumer expectations for speed and ease are increasing exponentially. As retailers respond in kind, impatience will only increase.

4. Mobile as a gateway to opportunity: In emerging markets, the mobile device is coming to represent a gateway to opportunity, helping people to change their lives.

5. Telepathic technology: With the rise of brain-computer interfaces and emotion-recognition technology, brands will become more adept at understanding consumers’ minds and moods — and reacting accordingly in a very personalized way.

6. The end of anonymity: New technologies and a growing drive to collect personal data are making it nearly impossible to remain unobserved and untracked. But as anonymity becomes more elusive, expect pushback from consumers and a growing paranoia around technologies and services that affect privacy.

7. Raging against the machine: As the digital age progresses, consumers are starting to fear/resent technology, fretting about what’s been lost in our embrace of technology and the pace of change. A higher value will be put on all things that feel essentially human as people seriously question (while not entirely resisting) technology’s siren call.

8. Remixing tradition: With social norms quickly changing and a new anything-goes attitude, people are mashing up cherished traditions with decidedly new ideas, creating their own recipes for what feels right.

9. Proudly imperfect: Imperfection is taking on new appeal in today’s neatly polished and curated world, reflecting the diversity seen in everyday life.

10. Mindful living: Once the domain of the spiritual set, mindful living is going mainstream, with more people drawn to the idea of shutting out distractions and focusing on the moment.

Happy New Year!
mwilson@chainstoreage.com

© 2014