Predictions for the Boardroom

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Here at FF we spend all of our time between the future and the present: using our trends to forecast how and when consumers will change and applying that to today by answering questions surrounding how to respond, how to pre-empt, how to get to the future first.

For AWEurope this year, we’ve done some work surrounding predictions for the boardroom considering those trends that you should be pitching to your CEO for the next 5 years. Our highlights are below.

#1 Commerce becomes conversational

In February 2016, Whatsapp passed 1 billion monthly active users. Concerns are mounting surrounding the closed-nature of dark social. Over a third of the UK, meanwhile, is currently using an adblocker and a further 40% would be interested in doing so, according to recent FF research.

The future is a place where brands will have to work harder to engage with consumers. The key to unlocking this is conversational interfaces.

This is a world where we are comfortable letting Siri, Cortana, Alexa or Assist help run our lives. Where we expect to speak to a bot in natural language –  and for them to respond instantaneously in an intelligent way. Where we seek a more empathetic and connected relationship with all brands  –  a trend we call The Warming Web.

For those companies not yet considering how they can use rapidly developing AI and NLP to their advantage in communications strategy, now is the time to investigate. The need for a conversational approach will become increasingly acute as consumers gain ever more control over their notifications (it is 40% of UK Milliennials already wish this was the case) and brands have to compete in ever more ingenious ways to dominate the shrinking window of time for potential engagement.

#2 The Future of Value

The future of value is data. Not Big Data as we know it today, in many cases vast and unstructured, but actionable, connected and contextualised data. If we consider what we will find of great value in 5 years time it will be personalised insurance propositions perfectly tailored to our consumption behaviours, pre-emptive health advice based on what we eat and how much alcohol we drink, the ability for brands to connect with us in response to how we think and feel, through a personality algorithm.

The facilitator behind all of these services? Personal information. What we would call Narrative Data –  numbers spun into a story to help deliver something of genuine use to the consumer. But apparent privacy concerns create a contradictory, polarised landscape. Consumers want these services –  almost half of the UK claim to be interested/very interested in a service that analyses their DNA to give personalised health advice –  yet claim to remain acutely aware of their privacy too.

The mechanics of value therefore becomes more sophisticated. No longer is it simply price v product/service, it now becomes three dimensional: price v product/service v data sharing, encircled by brand trust. The notion of concierge as premium will only remain relevant if a sufficient value equation dictated by time and brand aggregation.

Transparent data strategies will become more important as consumers themselves become increasingly aware of the value of this information. And brands will have to carefully negotiate this minefield, encouraging consumers to share enough information for the brand to be able to deliver a great personalised product or service, without the consumer expecting the world in return.

#3 Impulsive Existence & new life pressures

Social networks have provided us with a platform to display our best selves. At FF we have tracked this through our trend Performative Perfection –  an exploration of how the ease in which we can curate a perfected version of ourselves impacts our offline lives. And again, technology has  –  and continues to be  –  a central facilitator of this from selfie sticks to live video streaming.

With the arrival of VR the meaning of social pressure becomes redefined again. Recording in VR means that all experiences must be perfect  –  because they can be perpetually relived. This is the death of living in the moment.

Commercially, this shortens the purchase path. Impulse purchases have long been part of the shopper journey, but a range of technologies is now compressing consumption further inviting purchase at a click, super-fast delivery and instant gratification for those existing on impulse. Brands must adapt to the new consumer time frame delivering service and experience that is instant, and good enough to be re-lived in 360 degree HD.

Join us to find out more at our panel discussion at AWEurope on the 18th of April at 4.15 pm at the Getty Image Stage.

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