Not another year of consumer

Tearing trends apart. What’s the matter?

Are you a smartass or an asshole?

Not all trend reports are created equal. I’m reading about a hundred every year. Sometimes it’s cozy. Sometimes it’s like wading through the thorny bushes of an alien’s mind. There is a whole range: from smart words with empty meaning to buzzwords but deep thoughts behind them.

Remember, whatever you are reading, you are responsible for the outcome. What’s your mindset? Are you here to get new ideas or to criticize and feel better because of “oh, the author of this report is dumb, and I’m definitely the smart one”? If you are the smart one, you will never let your arrogance blind you.

Is AI a trend?

Is “AI” a trend? Is “Creative AI” a trend? Is “AI will be distributed and move toward the edge” a trend? I have a short post on “What is trend” on my website, but… Does it matter? Does the definition matter? Will you stop reading this if the text is not matching some framework to 100%? Once again, set yourself for success with the right questions. Start with those two. Can I learn anything here? What can I learn?

How to get value out of trends

While you are going through another report, your objective is to understand three things:

  • What is happening?
  • What does it mean?
  • What will happen next?

Be cautious, keep observations and assumptions separate. The trend is always an assumption, e.g. “This will grow and become popular”. But it should be rooted in facts that you can validate.

Back to AI example

I’m following trend reports closely for the last 7 years, and AI was already there as 2016’s prediction. Why is it still here? Why it’s not everywhere around? In fact, it is.

What is happening?

More companies are using AI to solve their objectives. AI is involved in more industries and functional areas. Big investments are required to support new systems. It takes time. It generates extra profit sometimes. Some companies start earning money out of the topic, selling AI as a service. Those are the facts that you can easily check by googling. Look for corporate press releases, specialists’ availability and salaries, the market of box solutions.

What does it mean?

The major change that has happened to this technology is democratization. More algorithms are more efficient and effective. Standardized solutions are perfected to solve the most common goals. There is more knowledge, more knowledgeable staff, more tests performed, and more learnings gained. AI has become practical and affordable.

What will happen next?

AI will continue to grow. So what? Depending on your interest, there could be different conclusions. More people will be needed in tech. More people will lose their jobs because of automation. Hardware renovation will eat budgets as big as it will be able to reach. AI will become massive in the areas where it’s starting today and it will reach other areas where demand is. Especially if there is already a lot of data, visible and hidden problem patterns, and knowledge that is easy to formalize. There will be more legal and ethical questions to AI. So on so forth.

So what?

When it comes to trends, avoid skepticism to buzzwords (it’s conventional for whatever reason) and read between the lines. Master this, and you will see new ideas everywhere.

Consumers in the middle of the pandemic, in the center of companies’ attention

As seen on Exploding Topics, Forbes, Curated, VTT, Dentsu, Deloitte, Foresight, and more.

The last time we’ve touched on the Forrester report. I’ve stated that 2022 predictions are closer to pre-COVID 2020, rather than to 2021. After being busy with internal issues, companies are facing consumers again, but consumers are already different. How different? Every year, a lot of reports are trying to address this question. Those are the first findings.

Physical and mental health are still in focus

After climbing to the top of the value ladder, health and self-care remain of high importance. People continue to invest in themselves. After a running boom last year, solo sports continue to grow. Wanting space promotes hiking. Immunity and immunity-boosting become hot topics. Emotional wellness and the exploding mindfulness market remove the barriers around mental health conversations. It’s okay to be “not okay” now. So, more and more people are chasing mental health support, starting the whole new industry of mental “fitness”.

Our home becomes the hub for everything

The home is everything. It’s the living space and the workspace. (This is challenging for companies, as one-third of first attempts at anywhere work fails according to Forrester’s research). It’s much more. The home is our safe place, the gym, the restaurant, the shopping center, and the entertainment complex. People want to make it better as much as they are able to: with DIY renovations and buying new furniture. They want to stay inside: expecting everything to be delivered, and more experiences moving online, including a tremendous growth of telemedicine. Rewards and pleasure are important: with at-home spa treatments and rising interest in cooking classes.

Metaverse is coming, so all experiences are hybrid

While our body is enjoying the coziness of a living room sofa, our mind is traveling across the universe. The line between the physical and digital worlds is disappearing. As it happens with most of the experiences, people just ignore it already: jumping between virtual calls and real meetings, online and offline appointments, stores and apps. We’ve even learned how to walk effortlessly with one leg in each of the worlds, using the best of what they have to offer at the same time. Shopping is an always-on experience now, whether you are scrolling TikTok or sitting in a Zoom meeting.

In search of the real values and fulfillment

People are reassessing priorities, and it often results in favor of a slower approach to life. With social distancing imperatives and the need for human contact, intimacy and emotions are being valued, rising demand for a new form of close relationships. Consumers are craving for everything real: tactile and tangible. They focus less on job achievements but demand more attention and care from their employers. Work-life balance is finally on the life side: from finding joy in everyday activities to a quest for happiness and meaning of life. It’s key for brands to find ways to appeal to consumers’ self-improvement, self-actualization, and need for higher-order fulfillment.

Purpose and sustainability have never been so hot

“Sustainability” is the single most used word across trend reports this year, claiming a champion belt from the all-time leader “data”. Being thoughtful about themselves, people are paying more attention to what is going on around them. This raises new questions: “Are we doing this right? What is right?” Consumers are caring about our shared planet and the future more than ever. They are growing their expertise in this area and are ready to keep brands accountable for their claims in sustainability and purpose.

Aside from this, take a look at WSGN Future Consumer 2022, which presents an interesting approach to consumer sentiments and profiles. Don’t miss Dentsu Shopper DNA 2030. More reports will appear in the upcoming months. I’ll get back to the topic of people and values several times to adjust and extend this reflection.

Read all reports on consumers

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