By Louise Marsland
This has been a year of contrasts: a tough trading environment in South Africa coupled with mega-investment in the industry by the international agency networks in SA and Africa; global political uncertainty versus leaps in space exploration; and the Ebola pandemic despite rampant technological and scientific innovations.
Making sense of it all for 2015 and providing insight into a consumer which has seen budgets squeezed locally with little hope of improvement in the near future, is what we are currently busy with in curating local, African and global trends in the industry for Biz TREND.s 2015, publishing 12 January 2015, in association with TRENDAFRiCA.co.za.
In the past couple of months I have interviewed a host of industry leaders on their trend predictions for 2015 and the consumer landscape for brands next year. It has been hard to get some to focus on the future, they are so mired in the doom and gloom of this past trading year. Others in aligned industries such as research, have done exceptionally well.
Those who have been more bullish are those who are looking past our borders to Africa at the vast opportunities that do present on this continent.
Last year, my two top trends for 2014 were mobility – for the African consumer; and collaboration – with the consumer, as published in my TRENDAFRiCA 2014 TREND. Annual. Mobility was about tech to transportation – the African consumer is on the rise and they need the infrastructure to get there. Brands that come up with solutions or services to assist, will win; and collaboration – to own the hearts of consumers, brands need to provide experiences and add value to the customer’s lives. It is no longer just about selling stuff people need or want, you need to collaborate with the consumer to find out what they need.
And both trends are still current – Africa has many untapped natural resources, but the consumer in Africa is what marketers and global brands are most interested in. This is one of the mega-trends of this decade and there is an even stronger shift in 2015 as global brands, agency networks and research houses position strongly on the continent.
From Google Glass to the growth marijuana industry; telepathic and wearable technology; and Africa’s rising consumer – 2014 could end up being one of those globally defining years in communication, consumer behaviour, technology, and for our continent.
These are the trends which stood out for me this year and which I wrote about in my weekly Bizcommunity.com TREND. Talk column:
- Millennials are moving the market: The current so-called ‘Millennial Generation’ is the first generation of digital natives. They are just entering the workforce and starting to have a measurable and dramatic impact on the marketplace.
- Growth of ‘craft’ brands: Brands that tap into cultural relevance and prove themselves to be authentic, honest, all natural, with a good story to tell, have brought back a traditional craft or skill and tapped into our ‘maker economy’, do resonate with consumers, especially Gen Y and the Millennials.
- Integrating with ‘Internet of Everything’: The prediction is that we will become embedded in the world wide web effortlessly, through the clothes we wear, the devices integrated into our lives and on our bodies.
- Workable wearables: Wearables are of course only one component of the new trend towards the ‘Internet of Things’ that is part of the ‘Internet of Everything’ – as technology developments allow the internet to be integrated into all facets of our lives, at work, home and play. While the widespread integration of wearables into consumer lifestyles is still fairly far off, wearables at work, however, is a real trend that already is transforming certain workspaces and operations.
- Reap what ye sow: Urban farming is becoming a very important global and social moment, creating cultural and community shifts as our global population becomes increasingly urbanised.
- Social media matters: Social media is a tool to know your customer like never before. To organise them around things they love, things they do, causes they feel passionate about – or feel that they should.
- The legitimacy of authenticity: In this new connected transparently digital world of ours, brands are desperately trying to be seen as authentic and sincere in the eyes of their consumers.
Source: Louise Marsland is Publishing Editor of TRENDAFRiCA.co.za. This column was originally published on Bizcommunity.com as part of the TREND. Talk column.