Although predicting anything 25 years in advance is a dicey endeavour at best, it doesn't stop people from trying. (In fact, this publication invited predictions for the next 40 years as part of its own recent anniversary.)
ZenithOptimedia has taken the sensible approach of focusing on macro trends that are already quite clear today, and then surveying its own 7,000 employees about those trends and the implications for marketers.
As a result, the report ends up sounding quite rational, with a list of safe bets that marketers need not wait for 2038 to start acting upon. Arguably, these trends should already be on the radar and infused into planning. Still, the full report is worthy of a good read.
Here, the report's six key trends and a sampling of the company's recommendations for marketers:
Trend 1: The age of the i-street:
Retail stores become experiential lounges (and the high street becomes the 'i-street'). Brands use customer data and sensors to customise that experience using augemented reality and other interactive technologies. Consumers make most purchases online and customise or self-manufacture using 3D printers.
- Integrate seamlessly across in-store, digital and mobile
- Organise your business to nurture customer-centricity
- Reassess your brand experience map
Trend 2: The rising markets phenomenon
The BRICs markets generate half the world’s GDP by 2030 (World Bank) and the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa) continue to grow. ZenithOptimedia also predicts an additional fast-growth tier: Peru, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana, Philippines and Myanmar.
- Target by cultural similarity, not just geographical location
- Get the right balance between local needs and global efficiencies
- Build an inspiring brand that resonates with consumer aspirations
Trend 3: Collectively responsible consumerism
Collective action to mitigate the consequences of our consumption habits and protect the planet will accelerate, uniting consumers, businesses and governments.
- Champion collectively responsible consumerism causes that match your values
- Share your vision for your collectively responsible consumerism causes
- Reward your customers’ allegiance to your causes
Trend 4: Welcome to the social cooperative
Social media gives consumers collective influence and bargaining power with companies and organisations, making social media a fundamental part of corporate business models. Collaboration with consumers influences product design and brand development.
- Value your consumers’ input
- Provide a meaningful value exchange
- Set up a socially organised business
Trend 5: The Internet of everything
We live amidst a smart, integrated system of sensors and data-aware devices that help us manage our lives. Brands personalise and deliver products and services for our every need. But what about the joy of surprise?
- Invest, implement and structure
- Help the consumer to improve their life
- Keep surprising
Trend 6: Democratisation of content creation
Individual content producers and publishers emerge; their work is as good as that of the pros and is in some cases published by traditional media corporations. However, there is still a strong need for professionally produced content from mainstream publishers and entertainment companies.
- Become a creative collaborator
- Leverage the new commoditised content
- Stimulate your owned and earned media
For those who favour a shorter-term view, ZenithOptimedia has also distilled its six trends for 2038 into a list of 10 specific changes in consumer behaviour that it believes will emerge and develop in 2014.