At the centre of these trends is the way that technology is giving the consumer more power to shape brands than ever before.
Shared value continues to rise
Today’s consumers scrutinise brands and seek out those with a commitment to creating value for their customers and society at large. Companies can no longer focus only on maximising profits for shareholders, but must also show alignment with customer values and commitment to creating shared value for a broad range of stakeholders.
Social innovation will be at the heart of any brand’s competitive advantage. No longer will companies be able to claim that consumers, employees, and the community are at the heart of their business – they’ll need to prove it.
Look out for: The rise of shared value auditors, who score and certify companies’ shared value outcomes.
Tech objects embedded in everyday life
Mobility isn’t just about smartphones and tablet computers any more. The “Internet of Things” is taking shape as more objects featuring embedded sensors, image recognition technologies, NFC payment and wireless connectivity are connected to the web. Innovations like wearable computers, touch and gesture interfaces, are creating more intuitive ways for users to connect with the world and interact with computers.
Many of these technologies may offer strategic business advantage for early adopters or bring potential for significant market disruption. Companies need to use these tech innovations to power smart applications that help their customers and employees to improve everyday life. Once again the challenge brands will face is to create real value, rather than creating and adopting tech products just for the sake of it.
Expect technology to become embedded in more objects we use every day – from fridges and televisions to cars and clothing. Consider Google’s Project Glass, a set of computerised glasses that lets users take pictures and find information, or the cool head-up display embedded in Oakley’s Airwave ski goggles for monitoring speed and reading text messages, for example.
The web gets even more social
Mobile technology means that people are always available and connected – consumers can connect anywhere and can plug in anytime, allowing for social integration on the go. People carry their social identities on their mobile devices. With a portable online identity, users can share their data between sites to build, maintain relationships and stay up to date with the people they know and the things they care about.
Brands need to learn to tap into the social identity and integration frameworks that drive the mobile Internet. They must apply social thinking at every level of their businesses to speak to and engage with mobile consumers.
The most successful brands will embrace the world of social mobility both inside their businesses for internal collaboration and communication as well as with the consumer.
The power of meaningful data
Social media and always-on access to the Internet means that companies are able to capture mountains of data about their customers. 2013 will be the year which challenges organisations to work out what to do with all the “big data” they have at their disposal.
Marketers have the opportunity to take personalisation to the next level – they can better understand the needs of their customers; predict consumer behaviour; and ultimately, personalise, refine and optimise marketing to each customer’s desires, behaviours and interests.
The true data analyst will have one of the most coveted skills sets on the market since companies will need him or her to make more sense of the customer journey.
The retail experience is everywhere
Consumers are embracing online comparison shopping, mobile payments and other new technologies as part of their shopping experience. They don’t necessarily need to feel and touch to buy, but they do demand a shopping experience they can access wherever and whenever convenient.
Consumer behaviour together with new technologies means brands must rethink their “retail space”. Today, retail could go nearly anywhere, thanks to mobile
Look out for the power of “AND”. Consumers are continuously demanding value, freebies and novelty in their shopping experience.
Urban life gets even smarter
Governments and businesses are looking at ways to leverage technology to offer more sustainable solutions and better lifestyles to city dwellers around the world. Such solutions drive smarter, greener cities for an increasingly connected global citizenry that is informed and aware about the environmental and social impacts of urbanisation.
2013 will guide the rise of a new world of connectedness, networks, central databases which is already resulting in cities providing e-services – e-health, e-education, e-traffic, e-home, e-government and e-offices.
Look out for: The likes of Siemens and IBM are involved in creating collaborative solutions to proactively manage urbanisation, but consumers will demand more from governments and businesses alike.