Three Key Themes to Emerge From Decoded Future Digital

Date:Friday, June 12, 2020
Author:Disha Daswaney, Charlie Gilbert

On Tuesday, we hosted our first day-long virtual event: Decoded Future Digital. And what a day it was.

The insights, which came from our own trend intelligence specialists, and recognised industry experts from elsewhere, covered everything from the post-truth age to the untapped power of brands’ communities.

Here are three themes that really resonated:

3. A call to arms for corporations

“2020 could be the worst year we’ve lived through, or it could be the best year of our lives,” pondered Positive Luxury co-founder and CEO Diana Verde Nieto. Speaking during the Purpose Meets Profit: Covid-19 & The Emerging Value in Eco-Ethical Thinking panel, she said it would depend on whether we’re able to think objectively about what the future could look like, and the extent to which we can plan for it.

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Rupert Read added meat to these bones by effectively issuing a call to arms for corporations. The future, he said in the Covid-19 & The Post-Truth Age panel, could be partly shaped by companies taking action in a way that falls firmly within the unprecedented bracket.

“People are used to corporations working in their self-interest,” he explained. “If they were to do something profoundly unexpected and say ‘We need economic packages in response to the coronavirus crisis that are more long term, and go beyond GDP,’ it would be huge. People would listen.

“It’s the right thing to do. They should make the case, including to their own shareholders, that this is acting in their self-interest. If your children don’t get to grow up, it’s bad for business.”

2. Seizing the potential of brands’ communities

“If you are true to yourself, then your community will trust you – and that’s how you build more followers,” said Andrea Di Filippo, co-founder of Pretty Little London, during the How to Maximise Social Media Influencers panel.

And when you actively work with your fans, you can tap into their artistry and imagination. In his State of Media presentation, Christian Ward, our head of Brand Engagement & Multimedia Strategy, said: “We need to fuel the democratisation of creativity, so every fan interaction should be a way to empower creativity.”

Hannah Fillis, Matches Fashion’s head of social & digital campaigns, built on this in the Why Social Media Should Be the Heartbeat of Your Omnichannel Strategy panel. “Including your community and making them part of your content means asking for feedback and listening to it,” she said. “It brings value to all of your other channels too – something that is relevant and different.”

1. Engaging Gen Z using 5G

“We remember 10% of what we read, but 50% of what we see and hear,” said Verizon Media’s 5G accelerator lead Alison Quinn during the Entering the Golden Age of Transmedia panel. “Brands should remember this, especially when engaging Gen Z. In stadiums, for example, there has always been a lack of connection. 5G will change this – imagine 70,000 people at a concert creating content in real-time, promoting your brand, and sharing it immediately.”

Andrew Atkinson, China Skinny’s senior marketing manager, spoke about the nuances of China’s Gen Zers in his Getting the Skinny on China chat with Saisangeeth Daswani, our head of Advisory – Fashion, Beauty & APAC. A generation in the world’s third-largest country, he said, typically spans just three years. Brands wishing to keep them engaged must prioritise mobile-first streams. “500 new products or services launch every day in China,” he said. “That’s why consumer groups segment with these micro-generational gaps. You really need to connect with them; it’s a challenge, but what an opportunity.”

A note on diversity

We can’t pretend Decoded Future Digital was perfect. The panels were not as inclusive as they should have been. They did not accurately recognise, reflect and celebrate the diversity of people who drive the creative industries. We should have done more to rectify this, and we’d like to take this opportunity to apologise. We’re sorry. We can do better. We will do better.

Among the immediate steps we’re taking is the establishment of an inclusivity group, which will be focused on education and culture change within the business, as well as assessing our event agendas. Watch this space for more.