Three ‘Trends Behind The Trends’ for 2015

There are lots of 2015 predictions out there. Some are obvious. Some not so much. As 2015 rolls on, we look beyond the trends already gaining momentum to ask what the bigger story might be. What will set the leading brands apart from the rest in the minds of consumers in the coming year? We see three big ‘trends behind the trends’ that we think will impact both consumers and brands throughout the year ahead.

We’ve all heard about many of the trends predicted in 2015. Wearable tech, mobile pay, connected cars, expanding social media channels, apps and native advertising. Many of us are already using or even implementing marketing tactics that tap into one or more of these trends.  But what’s the bigger story behind why some of these trends, well, trend? And what will set the leading brands apart from the rest in the minds of consumers this year?  We’ve identified three overarching themes that we think many of these trends are actually being driven by.

Transparency.

Transparency will be a driver for marketers in 2015. As consumers continue to exert their influence and buying muscle, the idea of radical transparency will rule, especially in the post #SonyHack era. Few brands are taking advantage of this idea now, perhaps from fear of not wanting to be exposed.

This year, however, the best brands won’t be those with the best “stories”, or invented positioning. The emerging winners will be those that put out accurate communications about what they are doing, how they are doing it, what they stand for and how they live out their purpose in the interest of the consumer — today, in real time.

The omnipresent social media machine will feed this theme by forcing brands to speak more like real humans, act more like real humans, treat humans more humanely, and not be able to hide behind their corporate wall anymore.

Companies like Whole Foods, Patagonia, Chipotle, Bhakti Chai, NeedWant.com — and even BMW with their carbon-fiber electric i3 and McDonalds’ “Our food, your questions” campaign — do a great job of building their company around such ideas, forcing more traditional brands to readdress the way they conduct not just their marketing, but their entire business.

Consumers will want to be empowered to make smart choices and the most transparent companies may be the ones that allow them to do just that.

Personalization.

Marketing is shifting from globalization to personalization. The world is more connected because of The Internet of Things, and marketing continues to be regionalized, localized, even individualized. People are rejecting homogenization as, arguably, the trendsetters always have, but now they have more digital and social power to do it more quickly. We hesitate to even classify personalization as a trend. It’s like when the nay-sayers thought the Internet was a trend. This may be more of seismic shift, here to stay. It will without a doubt transform how we think about, interact with, and manage brands.

Mass distribution is going cottage industry. Mass production is going small-batch. Even mass media is moving more niche. Big data combined with breakthrough manufacturing techniques make limited runs more economical, enabling businesses to be quicker-to-market with specialized offers and custom sub-brands targeting macro-demos.

Brands already doing this? Holiday Inn, founded on consistency, is moving toward more customized experiences that meet individual needs of target segments (business travelers, families, young couples etc.)

Coca-Cola printed bottles featuring 250 popular names so customers could find a Coke with their name, and in some countries, even design their own labels.

Taylor Swift actually went to living rooms around the country to personally meet her fans, making all the Swifites feel like her besties, as if she wrote songs specifically for them.

YouTube stars like Michelle Phan offer beauty how-to videos (a big trend for 2015) so you can become whoever you want to be.

Laser Girls’ outrageously wild 3-D nail art and Mink’s 3-D revolutionary printer that lets consumers print their own custom makeup enabling heightened self-expression.

Le Tote, an online shopping platform, uses a personalization algorithm so each shopper is presented with products that match her age, measurements, location and other items already in their virtual dream closet.

Honing social media listening and making sense of data to pivot and respond with increased agility will be key to competing in this ultra-personalized world.

Extreme Creativity.

Before consideration, there’s attention. How does a brand get noticed in an environment with more noise, distractions and clutter than ever? We think extreme creativity will be more effective than ever before.

Every day, we collectively make more than 400 billion Google searches, send a half-billion tweets, and more than 55 million Facebook status updates. To break through, brands can present ideas that are unexpected and find ways to participate in the consumer discussion. Creativity must be a core capability for everyone, not just the creative department. This means mining for a universal truth or insight to connect, and then creating something relevant, transparent and authentic that will make people care.

Good examples are P&G’s “Not Sorry” campaign, showcasing real life scenarios where women apologize for things that they shouldn’t. The truth of it resonated and it got more than 11 million views.

And GE’s “Brilliant Machines” campaign which demonstrated how GE solved big problems using the popular sci-fi movie format to deliver the message. They also supported it with a social campaign that generated 200,000 social engagements across #GEInstaWalk posts, 3.5 million unique viewers and over 3,000 new followers to the GE account.

Whether it’s the message or the medium, extreme creativity will be one of the most important tasks for agencies and brands in 2015.

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