2015 Trend Predictions: Consumers, Mobile & Retail Pushing Convergence

What should brand marketers expect in the coming year? Media is Power interviewed Empower MediaMarketing president, Jim Price, to get his predictions for the coming year. When it comes to 2015 trends, Price makes it clear that the consumer is (still) in control as convergence continues to drive the marketing industry. 

>1) Pick five words to describe customers in 2014 and in 2015? Give an example of a new consumer profile you think might emerge as a result in 2015. 

The 2014 consumer has been selfie-obsessed, shopworn, shrewd, social and, when it comes to their media, snackable. In 2015, we’ll see consumers be adamant, alert, always-on, asset-light and agitated.

For 2015, consumer profiles will not drastically change, but instead evolve as society, culture and technology continue to impact their experiences–use social listening to stay on the forefront of these shifts. It’s key to remember that people evolve their personality slowly over time and as their social experiences change — online and offline. If an acquaintance turned into a totally different person every time you met with them, you would be concerned for their well being or find them inauthentic and phony. Consumer profiles derived from social listening are no different.

2) What will shoppers buy more of, and less of, in 2015? What kind of shopper will emerge in 2015?

The consumer that (re)emerges from the holidays in early 2015 will be better equipped than at any other time in history to influence the decision making of brands. They will use this power to fashion brands in their own cultural likeness. The brands that recognize and account for their influence will set themselves up to win. Those who do not will be punished for it, will struggle to play catch up, and may never recover.

In 2015, we’ll see more devices that “learn” passively and fewer that require consumers to actively input data. There will be more devices that cater to the individual and fewer that fail to recognize our desire for individualization. This is driven primarily by the explosion we’ll see in wearable technology.

3) What interesting types of food products will emerge in 2015? Where will consumers buy their food next year, and what changes should traditional supermarkets make in order to stay competitive?

Private label is no longer a trade down on quality for consumers, so we’ll continue to see innovation in the competitive food category. Grocers know they can create brands just like the brands that sell on their shelves. Just look at the success Kroger has had with Simple Truth and Private Selection.  To no one’s surprise, we are also seeing retailers pay more attention, and spend more money and resources, to online grocery shopping platforms. The key for brands to help consumers adopt this new behavior is to balance the convenience and the ease of “click and collect” with the inherit need for self-discovery and trial.

4) How are the most tech-savvy consumers using mobile technology in ways that many brands don’t yet realize? How will mobile technology expand in 2015? 

There are already more devices connected to the Internet than there are humans on the planet. By 2020, Cisco predicts there will be more than 50 Billion connected devices helping us make our lives easier, better and more personalized.

“Mobile technology is becoming our remote control for a world of experiences.”

Not only are we using smartphones as personal shopping assistants and content consumption platforms, but early adopters are increasingly using their smartphones to connect to and customize the physical world around them. From the way they control the appliances in their home (from Nest to iGrill), to the way they move around the world (from FitBit to Uber), to the way they interact with retailers (through apps and beacons), mobile technology is the consumer’s bridge to a more “me” world.

5) What advertising campaigns will seem outdated in 2015 and what will replace them?

When I think about brands that are killing it in advertising, I don’t think Coca-Cola or even Apple anymore. I think about brands like GoPro, Knockaround sunglasses and Betabrand. This is because they have disrupted entrenched industries by creating powerful platforms for consumer participation instead of simply launching another ad campaign. Brands that succeed in the future will reject traditional campaign logic in favor of a more participatory and inclusive approach that allows people to see themselves reflected in the way the brand takes shape over time.

6) What key elements must a successful brand embrace in 2015? Give an example of a product that has perfected the cutting-edge brand experience.

The biggest thing brands will need to learn in 2015 is that the customer is the hero, NOT the brand. Leading edge brands are increasingly serving their consumers, not the other way around. This requires brands, more than ever, to get specific on who they are and what they offer and move away from trying to be “for everyone, everywhere.”

Birchbox has perfected the ‘cutting edge’ brand experience by expanding upon its online-only, subscription service and opening its first brick and mortar location. This will allow the brand to learn how consumers interact with the product and better understand what they want moving forward. In store tutorials, classes and consultation from experts for “box subscribers” helps elevate the brand from a purveyor of goods to a service provider for those who share their passion.

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David Germano
David Germano

David is the VP of Content Marketing for Empower Media Marketing, and runs Empower's Content Marketing division, Magnetic Content Studios. For more than 14 years, David has been helping brands develop sustained content marketing strategies and operate like media to build their own audiences. David is often speaking on the topic, and is a guest contributor to Content Marketing Institute.