As many already know, Snapchat, the successful messaging app among young people that Facebook wanted to buy for $ 3 billions, on today’s stock market is worth $20 billions and maintains a 50% annual growth. “A snap is worth a thousand words”, right Mark Zuckerberg?
Amazon as well became the leading online sales website with a stock valuation of $330 billions, a mind-blowing number (to place it in context: the Spanish PIB in the 1st quarter of 2016 was 274,8 billions euros).
The new Tesla 3 that will not be ready until 2017, when launched in March, reached 198.000 bookings in 24 hours, with an upfront deposit of $1.000.
McDonalds also invented the fast food but ignored the healthy habits of the population. Blackberry introduced us to the smartphone market but ignored the greater usability of the touchscreen and the applications market.
Or the mythic Kodak, that invented the modern photography with the individual camera as well as the digital camera around 1975. But the company consciously ignored (because it collided with the thriving sales in their analogic business) the evolution of the users towards the digital photography.
Two key messages
● If you ignore the trends, you run the risk of getting stepped over.
● In a competitive market situation, companies have to adapt to what customer wants or, even better, surprise them according to the trends.
It is obvious that nowadays to be informed of the latest consumerism (and technological) trends is very important, as well as using them to innovate giving suitable responses to customer’s frustrations or lacks.
Let’s see how some of the leading trends are evolving.
5 key trends in 2016
It is a trend that responds to the very human desire of continuous improvement. Thanks to the use of mobile devices this trend has received a great impulse.
The increasing use of virtual reality (VR), that allows immersive and really interesting experiences, is the new worthwhile thing in 2016.
Through the use of devices like HTC Vice, Oculus Rift or Playstation VR, appliances like Icaros, from the German company Hyve, are being developed. Icaros is a special workout station that allows bodybuilding exercises while flying through virtual landscapes.
One fact: the spending of the consumer in virtual reality hardware and software will go from $104 millions (2014) to $22 billions in 2020. It will be multiplied by + 200 in 6 years.
Talking about VR: it is worth mentioning the recent case of Pokemon Go. An app launched on July 6th that is already the most downloaded app in the world. Taking into account the launch wasn´t available in most of the countries during the first days, it had a lot of merit as it increased 90% the value of Nintendo´s stock market.
Can you imagine a way of using virtual reality to help your clients improve themselves?
2. At your service!
This trend discusses the unavoidable tendency to develop more helpful brands for the customers. Why? It is very simple, because of the excess supply given in almost all the industries.
In fact, if we pay more attention, the companies with a bad service are the only ones with a monopoly or an oligopoly (domain of a few that agree on manipulating the market’s conditions).
So that, the following Chinese saying makes more sense today than ever: “Don’t open a shop unless you know how to smile”.
In 2016 this trend reflects in consumers that don’t want continuous advertising and promotions from brands, through every channel within their grasp. They don’t need them (or they do, depending of what) to be always present in Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so on.
They choose those intelligent brands that use channels to be there when and how they need them even if they don’t realize this. For instance, Durex launched in France a witty and fun campaign where they tracked the broken hearts emoji on Twitter to suggest matchings between users. The campaign resulted from a study that showed broken hearts have more sex and, of course, that is going well for Durex.
Do you know which are the preferred channels for your clients? And what is even more important: are you taking advantage of these, just now?
3. Human Brands
More and more, consumers claim meaningful and ‘human brands’ with a personality of their own: brands that show a deep commitment with human values, like kindness or solidarity. Or with major social problems.
Showing imperfection is also a wanted quality: as there is no perfect human, there cannot exist a perfect brand, right?
In the area of social causes, a case I prefer for its simplicity and brilliance is the initiative from the Brazilian football team Vitoria. In 2012, the black and red horizontal stripes on their team shirt were changed to black and white stripes to promote the blood donation amongst their followers. The more people donated blood, the more stripes were changed back from white to the original red color.
In 2016, this tendency to more human brands led to a rise of the rating in two directions: not only the clients value the supplier but the supplier starts to value the clients as well.
Doubtless this rating in two directions entails a better experience for all of us.
For example, in Prêt, the British coffee shops chain, every member of their staff is entitled to an available budget to offer their favorite customers coffee for free.
Another example is the Australian hotels chain Art Series Hotel Group. This chain improved ostensibly the petty thefts and damages by offering discounts if the customers agreed to be rated by the staff.
What other things do you believe you could value about your clients in order to achieve a better experience for both? Without a doubt it is a risky path, but it can be worth taking.
4. Chaos of prices
The strategy of offering more and better services by all companies has led to excessive promotions, offers and discounts in multiple channels; and contributing to an even bigger resonance, all the new channels that Internet has promoted: email, social networks, etc.
Despite the saturation, the consumer, as a good capitalist citizen, still desires to find offers and bargains. What the companies can do is to try to help clients find more easily the bargains they are interested in.
Currently, in order to manage this headlong rush towards free services, the companies are trying to offer new perspectives to their clients: presenting a slightly different product or trying to obtain a better perception and appreciation of the value offered.
The coffee shop chain Ziferblat charges for the time you spend in the shop, and not for the product you consume (3 pennies per minute).
Another example is the Catalonian theater company Teatre Neu that doesn’t charge their audience for their performances, but for their laughs, using a paying fee system by laughs: 30 cents per laugh, as it can be seen in the following video. This seems to guarantee more the quality of the offer, doesn’t it?
Have you thought of new ways of presenting your price or place value on your offer?
5. Technology all around
Increasingly, there are more objects that take care of us, connected to each other through the Internet (we are, of course, referring to IoT- Internet of Things).
These objects are status symbols because they make our lives easier and they have a better social and environmental impact. For instance, the Swedish train operator Stockholmstag (as well as some airlines) analyses big data, permanently, to anticipate train delays, hours before they occur, therefore notifying the passengers.
The evolution of “the technology that takes care of us” in 2016 seeks to take advantage of , ‘machine learning’ and artificial intelligence (AI) in order to help us make better decisions.
(`Machine learning`: thanks to it, there is no need to teach computers how to perform complex tasks, such as translations or image recognition, but they learn it themselves automatically, using complex mathematical structures called neural networks that identify patterns from the analysis of huge amount of data).
The company Elemental Paths has launched a series of intelligent educational toys for children between 5 and 9 years old called Cognitoys, which learn from their relationship with the child and grow adapted to their age, but their personality and maturity evolves at the same time as the child’s.
This project was crowdfounded in Kickstarter by the donations of more than 2.256 people.
Are you thinking how the machine learning and cognitive computer science can help you or your clients make better decisions? Perhaps it is still too soon, but probably you should give a thought about it.
More information in: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: technology trends give us possibilities, consumer trends tell us about what consumers want. Obviously, the best decision is to offer, through our business, a solution in the intersection of both, technological and consumer trend
Disclaimer: This post was published on July 19, 2016 in Spanish on the blog “Innovación con los 5 sentidos” by Javier Sastre on the following link