5 ways the world changed in 2018

Date:Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Author:Charlie Gilbert

The world isn’t the place it was 12 months ago. From Silicon Valley scandals to a procreating Gen Z, discover the five developments your business needs to know about.

It’s been a year of consumer distrust, shifting gender perceptions and sensory identities. Now’s the time to find out what developments like these mean for your brand – before we enter another year of seismic commercial shifts.

5. Big brands were held to account

It’s been a particularly dramatic year for Facebook and Uber; the former rocked by the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, the latter by long-running employee rights and sexual harassment controversies. These darlings of Silicon Valley are being questioned. Can they be trusted? Do they really care about their users?

The lesson going into 2019 is simple: all businesses must work hard to win and maintain their consumers’ trust. Aside from being transparent about your processes and who you work with, you need to ask yourself an important question: do you understand who your customers are?

4. Masculinity evolved

From talking more openly about their mental health to adopting typically feminine products and grooming regimes, men aren’t just questioning what it means to be masculine – they’ve actively started challenging it. And in 2019, they’ll want brands to help them go one step further.

Can your businesses create products and services that respond to these changing men, and the people they’re striving to be? Can you represent them in your marketing, your advertising, and your content? If you can, the rewards may be great.

3. The emergence of sensory identities

Your most precious commodity is your customers’ attention; your most precious resource, their memory. In 2018, the most forward-thinking brands realised that, to really harness both, they needed to broaden their sensorial appeal. And that meant developing an identity that went beyond only the visual.

In 2019, you’ll need to seriously think about exploiting your consumers’ senses, whether by touch, sound, scent or taste. Doing so will not only help you better connect with them; it will help them to value what you’re saying and doing.

2. Gen Zers became parents

Well, the oldest ones did. Your next big target demographic has suddenly started creating an entirely new one, and while their drivers and intentions will take time to emerge, brands must quickly evaluate their perceptions of Gen Z going into 2019.

Don’t go thinking that your next key demographic will morph into millennials, the oldest of whom, after all, are preparing to turn 40. This in itself should cause a massive shift in how you perceive the most talked-about consumer cohort of all time.

1. The dawn of the extreme economy

In 2018, digitally overwhelmed consumers prioritised high-risk activities in a bid to feel human again. And brands responded: take NikePlus Unlocks, where consumers access discounted Nike products by getting active. Or athletic-wear brand Outdoor Voices, whose augmented reality app gives access to products before their release – provided customers explore outdoor trails.

Will you give consumers the high-octane experiences they crave as the extreme economy evolves further in 2019? One example of how this will happen: in May, we’ll see the launch of Blue World Voyages, a US-based cruise line offering hikes, runs, bike rides and diving expeditions to millennial travellers. “Say goodbye,” says the brand, “to floating hotels, shuffleboard, buffet lines, and slot machines.”