Oh joy, it's prediction season. Once again, our editors have selflessly devoted themselves to sifting through all the weighty 2019 forecasts we received from agencies and research companies. We discarded the crashingly obvious advice and the "predictions" about trends that have been underway for several years in an attempt to highlight significant movements or novel forecasts—all in hopes of saving you a little time. You're welcome.
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: EXPERIENTIAL ASCENDANCE
This was one of six key consumer trends impacting industries and markets in Asia Pacific for 2019 and beyond in a new Mintel report.
“In 2019 and beyond, brands will be challenged to become more experiential, engaging and fun. Broader goals, global knowledge and the sharing of information indicate that consumers are looking for new ways to satisfy their curiosity and indulge in novel, more extreme activities by stepping out of their comfort zones.
“Consumers are after new life experiences as opposed to simply spending on material things, and, as such, are trying new things and travelling to new destinations. The willingness among younger generations to pay for new experiences is closely intertwined with their technology habits, especially as they have the tendency to show off their passions on social media.”
HOWEVER: DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION GOES PRAGMATIC
This was the over-arching theme of Forrester’s 2019 predictions series. Review the full list of topics here:
“2019 represents a year when strategic ambitions will translate to pragmatic, surgical efforts with the aim of putting points on the board. Stakes remain high and the fate of many companies is in the balance as empowered customers vote with affinity and spend. A year of pragmatism is good for traction — if it yields purpose-driven, decisive, and more far-reaching strategies in 2020.”
Among Forrester’s many marketing predictions:
- More than 50% of CMOs will bring brand back as their top priority
- 20% of brands will give up on strategic CX initiatives and resort to price reduction for short-term gains.
- Customers and courts—not regulators—will enforce privacy rules in 2019.
CHINA'S TECH GIANTS WILL RECKON MORE WITH PUBLIC HEALTHCARE
Tencent and Alibaba are trying to pick up the slack for China's overburdened public hospitals and questionable medicinal companies with a massive undertaking to reinvent public healthcare. The internet giants, along with brands like Ping An and Merck, are building digital healthcare ecosystems that include:
- Remote diagnosis powered by artificial intelligence
- Online pharmacies delivering over-the-counter drugs to users’ homes in just one hour
- WeChat-based health education
- Medicine tracking systems to eliminate counterfeits
- A sharing economy for access to licensed private-practice physicians and medical equipment on the internet.
JWT Intelligence’s Future 100 report points out that Silicon Valley has already been experimenting in the healthcare space for some time, but China may be at a considerable advantage in relieving healthcare burdens. Plus Chinese patients are generally more mobile-savvy and comfortable with sharing medical records.
McDonald's may have stolen the thunder by banning plastic straws, but Mintel’s report looks at how the throwaway use of plastic is driving consumers to review their own behaviours to prevent plastic pollution.
“Plastic waste is an issue that is under major scrutiny in Asia Pacific, particularly in South and Southeast Asia. Consumers, today, are more aware of the world’s happenings and have the desire to do their part for the environment. A third (33%) of Indian consumers say that they often reuse their plastic bags and containers.
“While companies in the region are already creating solutions to address this global issue, changes are not happening fast enough. As this is an issue that affects all sectors of the consumer marketplace, expect to see brands that don’t take part in the shift away from unnecessary plastic use being shunned by ‘green’ consumers.”
ALL ABOUT INSTAGRAM
In Socialbakers’ 2019 social media trends report, one key finding was that Instagram ads increased in 2018, while the percentage of overall adspend on Facebook decreased. Instagram ad campaigns reached their highest adoption rate in June 2018 before tapering off.
“As Instagram audiences continue to grow, so will marketers’ advertising investments,” the report says. “Overall brands are shifting their investments between the services.”
On the other hand, JWT, in its Future 100 report, sees signs of a brewing Instagram backlash. "Will 2019 mark peak Instagram?" the agency's intelligence unit asks in its report. "It’s looking that way, as brands and consumers start to push back on what has become a cynical culture of visually novel experiences designed expressly to inspire sharing; of influencers who buy their followers; and of curated lives that create FOMO and anxiety."
NOT YET SHOOTING THE MESSENGER
Hootsuite’s Social Trends 2019 report notes that consumers are increasingly aware of the data they’re sharing on social media, but for many, data privacy concerns are leading them to have more conversations in less public forums.
“Concerns around privacy have led social media users to more private channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat, creating unique opportunities for businesses to develop 1:1 relationships with customers, particularly as those customers increasingly prefer messaging for interactions like support,” says Hootsuite CMO Penny Wilson.
The top four messaging apps now count nearly 5 billion monthly active users, meaning messaging engagement is quickly eclipsing the more traditional social networks.
CHINA'S DAIGOU (OVERSEAS SURROGATE SHOPPERS) MARKET WILL DISSIPATE
The Chinese government's recent decision to lift purchase limits on cross-border e-commerce indicates a strong outlook for legitimate sellers and not so much for the shoddy ones, explains Azoya Consulting. What's going on: China is expanding the scope because cross-border e-commerce can be better tracked and taxed than gray-market daigou purchases, and consumers can be better protected from fake goods.
Azoya, an e-commerce agency, predicts that the daigou industry will split into two groups, with one exiting the market completely. China's new e-commerce law is forcing individual sellers on WeChat and Taobao (this includes daigou agents using personal accounts to sell online) to obtain business licenses and file tax returns and import duties. Smaller agents may forego selling and become micro-influencers instead, helping larger surrogates to market products and get a commission in the process.
All in all, expect quality of daigou agents to improve, the supply of gray-market goods to shrink, and purchase volume from official cross-border e-commerce channels to increase.
Among the more intriguing micro-trends cited in JWT's Future 100 report is a move toward product packaging that seeks to make a tactile bond with the user. The report cites Glossier, which incorporated a swipe gesture into a solid perfume (pictured). The hefty (for its size) doodad opens and closes “with an addictively flippable hinged swivel” and echoes the way people flip through smartphone content.
UPPING THE GAME ON PAID SOCIAL
Hootsuite’s Social Trends 2019 report argues more competition on paid social is forcing marketers to “up” their game. Brands need to use more relevant content to add value to their audiences if they want to see real returns.
“The slow down in organic reach in 2018 required brands to dive deeper into paid social to get their messages across. But increased competition there now requires those same brands to take a different approach in the coming year.”
Stories are now growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing, the report says, which means content must adapt as stories offer new formats for sharing, and for purchasing.
ADTECH AND MARTECH COMPANIES WILL EXPERIENCE 'OPTIMISATION'
VC funding for martech and adtech will drop by 75%, according to Forrester. Investment peaked in 2016, and the major M&A deals are behind us now. In an ominous turn of phrase for an industry that's obsessed with optimisation, Forrester predicts that private equity will now move in to optimise the value of what is left.
CHINA'S OUTBOUND TOURISM MARKET WILL HIT 'PEAK PACKAGE-TOUR'
Gone are the days when Chinese outbound tourists only travelled abroad in large package tours, dutifully following a flag-waving leader and boarding a bus to luxury shopping outlets. Two in three Chinese international travellers say they now prefer to make their own travel itineraries, and a raft of new globetrotting Chinese travellers is prompting tourism boards and brands alike to meet their new needs and desires, according to JWT Intelligence’s Future 100 prediction report.
In addition, new 'traveller tribes' are emerging: wedding partiers (including bachelor or bachelorette parties as well as actual weddings), love travellers (those who travel in search of a fling or a life partner), filial travellers (multi-generational groups with aged parents as well as children), and even geopolitical travellers (those who are influenced by Chinese foreign policy like China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative to hit non-traditional destinations such as Morocco and Turkey).
Chinese tourists are aware of their dominance, according to an Innovation Group APAC study: 27% of those surveyed worry about discrimination, in particular of being stereotyped as the 'rude Chinese tourist'.