Trends 2018: The Humanity of ThingsIf there's one thing we can count on in PR and marketing, it's that we need to be agile in approaching our campaigns and programs. Trend forecaster, Janna Stark, asks us to also consider our humanity in planning for 2018.
Heading into a new year brings the excitement of new beginnings, of resolutions kept, of celebration, and fresh starts. In the paradigm of trend forecasting, slow shifts of human consciousness into action is preferred. In 2017, many of us celebrated small achievements over large and we’re greeting 2018 with cautious optimism.
Figuring out an honest and memorable yet impactful brand identity is going to be imperative in the current climate. Now consumers expect accountability of action, a credibility of information, ease of use, and inclusiveness in their products and services. It is clear the crucial overarching trend for 2018 is humanity.
These desperate times call for desperate measures, and there is no better place to look than within ourselves. It is time to create bonds instead of divisiveness, root ourselves in truth, and build trust. At the core, whether through AI advancement, social messaging and responsibility, or brand purpose, humanity will be the driver that dictates how we navigate towards the future.
The Humanity of Technology
Technology is in need of finding a human connection that isn’t laden with overhyped, not quite realized functionality. While there is value in understanding progress and how it will eventually make sense for your business and audience, what is needed is a clear look at the human condition and how technology plans to address a whole slew of immediate needs. No longer enamored with gadgetry, consumers are desperate to understand how technology will finally be able to fit seamlessly into their lives, and instead of adding to the noise, bring solutions that will ease the daily grind. Ericsson recently released their Hot Consumer Trends for 2018 with similar sentiment. Consumers are more than ready to have technology understand them instead of them having to understand technology. The window is open for AI integration, but no one is ready for an overzealous fix. Tread lightly, but go forth and show your customer that you are able to not only understand their needs but can offer authentic and credible mind-easing, time-saving, trust-building solutions.
The Humanity of Social
Social marketing, often considered the go-to for authentic messaging, has been losing street cred as brand image takes over mega-influencers feeds. Audiences still trust peers over ads, but an increase in influencer power is diluting their credibility. The needed human touch is being found in working with micro influencers, with modest but genuine followings of between 1000-100,000. With highly engaged niche audiences, these influencers are able to drive the conversation in a more unique and personalized way, and brand collabs, therefore, end up feeling more relevant and organic. Leading the pack are micro influencers like @itslinamar, who touts a mere 17k followers, but is creating accessible branded content for @adidaswomen, @davines_uk, and @glossier among others. The price tag for working with such influencers is also better for humanity, ranging from product to $1000, much less than working with big influencers who may charge astronomical amounts of money.
The Humanity of Brand
The conscious economy has come a long way from the one-for-one model pioneered by the likes of Tom’s Shoes over a decade ago. While this model oozes with humanity, marketers, and consumers are realizing that a bigger win comes when corporate citizenship is also deeply rooted in brand purpose. Create a strong brand purpose and place it at the heart of your business strategy. Keep messaging grounded and honest and make customers feel like they are a part of a community. Root brand messages in human connection not simply for the larger greater good, but also for brand growth and customer loyalty. If your purpose connects with citizenship, a grand circle of goodwill and shared experience will propel your success into the stratosphere. The Brand Gym gives a great example in a recent post on their blog by going into detail about the evolution of messaging by Airbnb. With grand gesture in 2014, Airbnb tried to encompass everyone into their cause with the campaign, ManKind. The problem with this heartfelt campaign was that it had no link back to the product. In 2015, they repurposed with great success with the Don’t Go There, Live There campaign, which linked directly back to their brand purpose, thus creating a global sense of community.
How to Use the Humanity Trend
It may seem the trend of humanity is also too big for its britches. But we’re not asking you to leap into 2018 with all of humanity as your goal. Rather, dissect it, look boldly into the eyes of your consumer, ask them what they need from you in order to garner their continued trust and devotion, and then give it to them wholeheartedly.