With 2020 bringing digital adoption to speed like no other time before, Dentsu has highlighted some of the "radical collaboration" between humanity and technology that is already fueling creativity and is sure to catch on further in the coming years.
1. The virtual experience economy
Virtual events have found ways to not only survive, but to augment live activations by applying data and experience design. Events sports, games, concerts and classes are being redefined with more interaction. We see this in platforms like Twitch being reinvented for discussions and sports leagues inventing new interactions with for fans to cheer through tapping and by showing up virtually.
Jayme points to work by Very Star by Isobar on virtual CGI idols they've created to connect with young people but also capture brand spirit. Fashion houses like Gucci are adopting virtual commerce with clothes and sneakers that can be tailored to avatars.
2. The real we
A dichotomy exists between adopting the technical and virtual and the desire for simplicity and humanity, with farmers, activists and community front line workers being hailed as the new stars and heroes of our time.
Brands are tapping into community involvement by sourcing more local products and crowdsourcing product ideas. Reebok's efforts to produce crowdsourced designed shoes that hit a minimum threshhold is a good example of this.
3. Human contact-less
Jayme's third trend relates more directly to the pandemic. Fear of contagion had lead to huge gains in contactless technologies. But less interaction has challenged online commerce to be more personal and human. Some of this is powered by livestreaming, but in other aspects it is facilitated through personalized service tools.
Lululemon's purchase of Mirror, a virtual startup that traces and corrects postures while exercising is an example of this.
4. Me, myself and AI
This ability to track and monitor personal health data highlights an ongoing tension between personal wellbeing, privacy and public interest, which will persist, says Jayme, but is unlikely to stop the trend as cars become able to recognise distracted drivers and alert them and as bank accounts track people's carbon footprints.
Emotional well-being has become a prime service category as virtual assistants offer health diagnoses and mood-tracking technologies and relaxation apps take off in popularity.
Dentsu’s Tuna Scope is an example of how technology is being applied to diagnose food safety like the freshness of fish remotely.
The upshot, Jayme says, is that every brand is becoming a wellness brand and data owner.
5. The urgency of allyship
Social inequalities highlighted by BLM and other movements to address them have gained momentum, creating urgency for brands to be a force for social good. Brands have to implement genuine allyship over hashtag activism through actions not words.
One of the ways to do this is to design for diversity like Crayola did by creating crayons packages with all skin tone colours. Another way is to implement recycled products like Levi's selling used denim or H&M's Looop technology that turns old clothes into new within hours.