William Gibson, speculative fiction writer, has several times stated: The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.
The truth of this statement lies in the fact that trends are formed by the adoption of something new that facilitates an unchanging human motivation: a need, want or desire. For instance, the advent of Facebook and other social media did not create the desire to share our lives with others, but they have enabled the ability to share more easily, immediately and widely than ever before.
So whatever the future holds, its roots are here with us in the present. The real trick is to predict which thing is going to be the next big thing, which is why Mark Twain was right when he said:
The art of prophecy is very difficult, especially with respect to the future.
Here are three mini scenarios for 2020. My question for you is what will really happen? Do these seem likely or do you envisage an alternative scenario?
1. Scarcity Of Time
- People find themselves increasingly short of time, and can no longer get by with less sleep.
- Lifestyles become less planned, more immediate and volatile.
- People become reliant on technology and brands to facilitate their lives.
- Consumers expect to be able to get what they want when they want it, leading to a boom in on demand and delivery services. Product brands seek to add levels of service and just in time accessibility to their offer.
- People expect packaged goods, food and drink, to be resupplied automatically. As a result, brand owners must focus on initial brand adoption rather than encouraging brand switching.
2. Battle For Control
Faced with a barrage of “almost relevant” advertising in digital media, consumers demand more transparency and control over targeting technologies. Some are willing to pay to opt out of the advertising ecosystem, and media companies and brands face increased political pressure on the privacy front with “do not call” and “do not track.” As a result, all addressable marketing becomes opt-in.
3. Scarcity Of Truth
As consumers grow ever more confused by the plethora of choice, knowing who to turn to for advice becomes more difficult. The advice of friends can no longer be assumed to be unbiased, as brands incentivize followers to promote them. Product placement becomes more manipulative, and shows and sites are regularly called out for being biased. As a result, new social media sites seek to match advice seekers with independent and trustworthy advice givers.
As my colleague Graham Staplehurst once noted, whatever we think, the future will be something else. Decades ago, people predicted that today we would have flying cars and video phones, but instead, we have budget airlines and Skype. They serve the same need but with a different solution.
So what do you think the future holds for marketing? Please share your thoughts.
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