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Latest Issue: Mar/Apr 18

Trends for 2018

It is 2018. Trends and innovation are moving at breakneck speed, powered by an engaged, sophisticated, curious global consumer.

J. Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group unveiled its fourth annual Future 100 report. From trends like ‘Streaming Wars’ and ‘Kid Influencers’ to ‘Hipster Luxe’ and ‘The Internet of Eyes and Ears,’ ‘Farming 2.0’ and ‘Trendy Teetotalism,’ The Future 100 foresees a 2018 full of transformational change and new opportunities for consumers and the companies whose brands they buy.

The trends are categorised by ten ‘lenses’: Beauty, Brands & Marketing, Culture, Food & Drink, Health, Lifestyle, Luxury, Retail, Tech & Innovation, and Travel & Hospitality.

Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the Innovation Group, said of the report: “The future is happening faster than ever, thanks to the rapid pace of tech innovation and digital culture. New models of commerce are causing disruption and scaling rapidly. In food, drink and beauty, we see nascent trends exploding in a nanosecond, thanks to social media. Meanwhile, new technologies are completely transforming the way we interact with commerce, marketing and the internet. AR, VR, AI, voice activation and 5G will all create seismic change in the way we work and live. Coupled with this we are seeing consumers who are more demanding of brands than ever – and focused on wellbeing, experiences and self-improvement in all aspects of their lives.”

Transcendent Retail

Shopping is leaping off the screen and morphing into a more immersive experience, as voice technology, augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) transform the retail industry.

Why it’s interesting: A streamlined online experience is no longer enough in retail. Customers are increasingly expecting retailers to link the online and offline worlds to create a seamless, intuitive customer experience that makes buying products quicker, easier and more enjoyable.

Amazon everything

2018 might be Amazon’s most interesting year to date. After its surprise acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, the question is: which established industry will it take on next?

Why it’s interesting: 2018 could be the year when Amazon becomes truly unstoppable—or gets cut down to size.

Hyper-personalized products

The move towards diagnostic, highly personalized health and beauty goods and services is now being seen in more general retail.

Why it’s interesting: Consumers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of giving up personal information and data—and even modifying their bodies—in exchange for knowledge and convenience. This could influence retail on a wider level, with customers willing to trade even intimate details for a more bespoke experience.

Wallet Wars

Companies are working to own not just the retail experience, but the digital wallet as well.

Why it’s interesting: Control over payments gives companies valuable consumer data and an avenue for promotions that engender loyalty. The more you sell, the more you sell.

Open Banking

From January 2018, open banking will massively disrupt the United Kingdom’s finance sector, providing a glimpse of the banking industry’s future.

Why it’s interesting: Open banking sets the standard for propelling the fintech industry forward. If it is initially successful, banks will shift to providing more modular and personalized services tailored to consumers—rather than serving as a one-stop shop.

URL goes IRL

What happened to the “death of retail”? Far from annihilating the brick-and-mortar retail sector, major e-commerce brands are revitalizing it through creative concepts that merge URL and IRL experiences in new ways.

Why it’s interesting: Despite the convenience of eCommerce and the vast number of online purchases made every minute, consumers still enjoy the thrill of seeing, touching and engaging with a product. eCommerce brands are leading the way in merging the two in unique ways.

Southeast Asia’s New Muslimah

For some years, marketers have pursued the estimated $1.9 trillion global Muslim consumer market, including the growing cohort of young, female hijabistas. Now they are waking up to young, tech-savvy Muslimah in Southeast Asia.

Why it’s interesting: Global brands are already beginning to cater to this influential group. Shiseido’s Za line is now halal-certified, Uniqlo has introduced a range of modest clothing and Taiwan’s Michelin-starred Din Tai Fung dumpling restaurant chain has replaced pork with chicken at some of its outlets in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Brands eyeing the Muslim market should not overlook this connected young cohort.

Reuse Rebranded

Thrift and consignment shopping is no longer about trawling musty-smelling stores to unearth rare treasures. Instead, tech and data-driven businesses are introducing a new slickness to thrift shopping, using data to make the process painless for both seller and buyer.

Why it’s interesting: Second-hand shopping is becoming a seamless, often luxurious experience. Consumers want to extract value from their designer purchases, and, on a more mass level, are looking to move away from cheap, throwaway fast-fashion purchases and extend the life cycle of clothes.

Auto Innovation Retail

As driverless cars and green fuel become reality, automotive brands are creating new ways to stay relevant.

Why it’s interesting: Car ownership is expected to experience a long-term decline, as a majority of auto industry execs concede. Smart automotive brands such as Ford and BMW Mini are reinventing their business models to adapt to a world in which personal car ownership gives way to greener, more efficient, shared mobility solutions.

Retail’s Unemployment Crisis

The automation of manufacturing and transport jobs may make headlines, but the retail sector looks set to be the biggest loser.

Why it’s interesting: With the launch of new staffless retail concepts following on the heels of in-store automation, the retail sector faces further disruption. For successful retailers, digital technology presents an opportunity to invest in better customer service, enhancing the customer experience.