You should already have kicked off your strategy and planning for 2017 (while continuing to run through the tape at the end of 2016).
While you’re in planning mode, you should also consider what’s going on globally, now and into the next several years.
One great resource for staying on top of trends is the yearly report from the Trendwatching website. Many of their reports are free, but you can also get a paid account for additional access and insights.
The trends outlined in their latest report, “5 Trends for 2017,” can offer you food for thought while you address budget, resources, and tactics for the coming year.
VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE ECONOMY
We have all heard the buzz surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality; soon these types of digital experiences will become the norm rather than an exotic toy. You probably can’t turn your blog into a Magic Leap-worthy whale splash, but you can start to consider the importance of experiences over content.
Your customers are jaded with listicles and slides.
They want to know you and your world. Offer them digital experiences that reinforce your relationship and bring them closer.
The Trendwatching report states that experiences are becoming currency, as limited-access or insider style events make consumers feel like the brand is part of their identity.
Time to brainstorm the types of experiences (real-world and virtual) you can offer your customers/fans/readers.
Right now, I can instantly talk with someone in Dubai via video chat.
The world can participate in the #MannequinChallenge on Twitter.
News breaking anywhere in the world is readily accessible.
The new consumer sees a global community and is sorting out their place within it. How does my own relationship to home relate to my knowledge of world challenges? What impact can I have, at home and abroad?
Your challenge as an entrepreneur is to plug into the global society and build bridges where you can. This ties into the strong wave of interest in corporate responsibility and charitable work as well. What types of actions can you take in your business that both support your mission and bond you to the global community at the same time?
In the past, marketers liked to segment consumers along strong demographic lines, as if all 21 year old females purchased as a block. The trend now is to target the consumer as an individual, often someone who breaks the old patterns of demographics and behavior.
How does this relate to your business?
For starters, don’t get caught thinking of “Millennials” as a monolithic unit. Don’t assume your older consumer isn’t on Instagram. Start looking for ways to personalize your message.
Your customers aren’t thinking of themselves as 40-60 year old males, so you should stop looking at them that way as well.
Another part of this larger trend is the desire for consumers to be incognito individuals, free from tracking. There’s a wish to be anonymous, or to view the world through the experience of another person (how about the ability to switch your social feed to someone else’s, just to get out of your own bubble).
We’ve already been educated about sustainability and the trend towards lowering your business impact on resources. The newer trend is toward looking for ways to use resources that might have gone to waste. Think “selling” back unused energy to the power company, or sending packages along with an Uber driver.
Brainstorm some ways that your business might have unused capacity that could be a positive value to someone else. How can you look at these new business models and turn your excess into gold?
BIG BROTHER BRANDS
Yes, we might start using the term “Big Brother” as a positive! Consumers will expect to be monitored and tracked, but will also expect to get value out of giving up some level of privacy. Isn’t it great when you can yell “Hey Siri, who’s singing that song?” into the air, and she responds? Already, my front door unlocks as I approach, because of technology we’ve installed.
As an entrepreneur, the way to take advantage of this trend is to seek ways to provide personalized service that delights the customer. At a micro level, you can leverage publicly available information (or information the customer has shared with you over time) to tailor your offerings, or even to surprise them with a gift. What if you looked at a customer’s Pinterest boards to find a small gift that suits their interests?
Just don’t be creepy about it. Always consider how you’d feel in the situation first.
These top trends for 2017 will certainly affect your business in the coming year. How will you move to leverage them? Are you already on top of some of these? Please share your experiences.
Featured image via Flickr CC: Knight Center for Journalism