By Elena Klau on 5th January 2018
Monetizing the legalisation of Cannabis, nostalgia driven activities - like ball pits - and befriending bots are set to be all the rage for the coming year.
"As 2018 dawns, it’s time to look ahead and explore what trends, memes and themes are going to have the greatest cultural and commercial impact over the coming year.
There are, of course, the obvious players such as AI, Blockchain, and the ever-eponymous Millennials but perhaps the below trends will really help brands to make more meaningful connections with the consumer class of 2018.
We spend every waking moment reading facial expressions for signs of attraction, hostility, joy, sadness, trust and deceit. And as the selfie generation is already comfortable with capturing their image, consumers are set to better understand and accept the rise of Facial Recognition and Facial Tracking technology. This means early adopter brands already using facial coding to read and readily react to consumer emotions will reap the benefits.
Unexpected physical experiences in food and beverage will be a whole new area for brands to tackle in 2018. No longer satisfied with just uniquely delicious flavors, consumers are now seeking out longer-lasting, multi-sensorial experiences that they can share with their peers. Whether it’s the sizzle of something spicy or an unexpected element in an otherwise expectedly smooth drink, brands will have to become more imaginative throughout 2018 if they want to break through the overflow of hashtags on social media.
HOT FOR BOTS
First there was Siri. Then came Alexa. The rest is about to become history. In 2018, we’ll see consumers opening up to the idea of having a connection or relationship with virtual bots. Not just taking orders from us; but entertaining, educating, and even being a meaningful companion. And scarily, Tech firm Gartner has said that by 2020, the average consumer will chat more with bots than their significant other!
ZEDIFICATION OF THINGS
In 2018, Generation Z will cease to be just “the generation that follows Millennial,” with brands trying to better understand them as they start to come of legal drinking age and many taking tentative steps into the workplace. As a mobile-first generation, more content in 2018 will have to be formulated as Gen Z friendly. Short, snack-sized content weaving itself not only into social media, but also into how they consume all communication and entertainment.
OPEN DOOR POLICY
In this day and age, the last thing the vast majority of us think about is allowing strangers to enter our homes without us being there. However, with online retail, click to collect, and delivery sales reaching all-time highs, companies like Amazon (read more of which in one of last year's Weekly Rewind) and Walmart are challenging the marketplace ever further by offering in-home delivery services where the deliverer unpacks groceries, stocks the fridge, and places packages safely inside the purchaser’s home. This is also likely to lead to brands coming up with their own variation on the concept to offer a competitive edge.
CANNABIS CARTE BLANCHE
With stress levels at all-time highs and some 71% of Millennials supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana, it should come as no surprise this is a high- (ahem) lighted trend for 2018. Already, savvy brands and marketers have begun to mobilize. From cannabis-enhanced beauty products, “bud and breakfast” B&Bs, and some Canadian chefs hosting “pot-ups,” brands need to start putting their cannabis strategies together now.
What could be better than to enjoy your favorite cocktail with little guilt, knowing that you were consuming something healthy? While drinks that better your health were popular in 2017, they’ll continue to be so in 2018 — with a twist. From cold-pressed juices, kombucha, and activated charcoal, mix-ins that contain healing properties are making consumers eager to order. With these additions we’ll also see “culinary cocktails” appear on menus. Chefs and mixologists are taking their favorite garden vegetables and other kitchen ingredients and incorporating them into drinks. Sea urchin, heirloom tomatoes, and carrots (called the “Jessica Rabbit” cocktail) are just the beginning of what we’ll start to see.
INNER CHILD INDULGENCE
As adult life around the world becomes increasingly stressful and hectic, and times are uncertain and unpredictable as they are likely to be throughout 2018, appealing to an adult’s inner child can be pretty lucrative. Nostalgia-driven activities, like summer camps and big ball pits will allow brands to uniquely engage adults in experiences that reconnect them with their fondest memories, helping to build meaningful engagement and emotional connections with their consumers.
Many believe that e-commerce may lead to the demise of physical retail. However, paradoxically, it may be e-commerce’s expanding expedition into physical retail that will save the bricks and mortar sector. With the focus in 2018 turning to in-store experiences and utilizing physical space to engage with customers, rather than using the space as a sales-driving channel.
TRAVEL ON THE TAB
As Millennials and Generation Z seek to maximize their traveling experiences, companies are rising to the challenge of making dream vacations more accessible to young adults with low cash reserves. US travel agents Affirm and Uplift have already stepped up to the mark following a recent survey by Atmosphere Research Group finding that 41% of travelers surveyed expressed an interest in using installment payments for trips that cost $2,000 or more. And so, 2018 will be the start of more young travelers experiencing the world in the same way as their older, more cash ready counterparts."