Trends from The Future Laboratory Conference

Lori Susko, our Director of Integration, recently attended the 2018 Trend Briefing held by The Future Laboratory, one of the world’s most renowned futures consultancies. Lori has summarised the three key trends they predict are set to transform the business landscape, and what this means for communication strategies.

Civic Brands
Consumers are increasingly losing confidence in banks, government, and media, which presents an opportunity for brands to step in and step up. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Australian millennials believe that businesses have the power to make a difference. There is an opportunity for businesses to communicate a real sense of purpose, and take actions to prove it. There has been a shift in focus from profit-driven to community-driven purposes and CEOs are now seeing corporate social responsibility as core to their business, rather than a stand-alone campaign – driven by the need to keep up with ever-increasingly altruistic consumers, the sharing economy, and peer-to-peer technology. Brands, like Patagonia and Nike – with their global community impact initiative, have overshadowed competitors by moving beyond grandstanding to standing for, or even creating, actual social change.

The Focus Filter
According to Nielsen, the human capacity to apply concentration to a chosen subject, and our ability to understand things in detail, is being significantly challenged by our constant multi-tasking and multi-screening. And according to Deloitte, the sheer volume of content we are being fed is eye-watering and we’re addicted with 35% of Australians checking their phone within five minutes of waking up. Clickbait mentality now applies not only to the headlines, but also to the architecture and appeal of every app, and designers are tailoring their typography, layouts and content to keep up with scanning as the new reading.  To put it simply, we’re in an age of distraction. Businesses need to get their focus right, and support communication strategies that target and measure deeper engagement with audiences rather than merely counting likes and clicks.

According to Gartner, by 2020 the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse. With the rise of screen-first communications (and ever increasing additional screens), demanding schedules, and sophisticated artificial intelligence, entrenched ideas about relationships and roles are being challenged. The image of the standard family unit no longer appeals to the majority of consumers, whose relationships are far more complex than the 2.4 children model. Home-based AI products are blurring the line between technology and companion (think Google Home and Alexa), taking on routine household tasks such as grocery shopping, booking flights/appointments/entertainment. Businesses will soon have to tackle how to appeal to these artificially intelligent helpers that are making decisions on behalf of their owners for everyday commodity items, or at least create strong brand loyalty and digital pathways with the consumer in the meantime.