As the haze of the festive period slowly evaporates, it’s time to rub those bleary eyes, step away from the leftovers and look forward to the next twelve months.
What can we expect in 2014, then? Will we pay attention? Who’s looking to escape? When will we settle down? And why is it all work, work, work?
At Canvas8, we’ve dusted off the crystal ball, scratched our heads and poked and prodded our expert network to highlight the attitudes and behaviours that we think will shape our world over the next 365 days…
#1 Can I have your attention, please?
The growth of platforms like Snapchat and Vine suggest our attention spans are decreasing. Constant rolling news and video streams, pictures that disappear in a heartbeat. Blink and it’s gone.
But the success of complex, lengthy TV shows like Breaking Bad, or novels like The Luminaries, show that we can still dedicate huge chunks of our time to something. With more choice than ever, we’re simply being more selective. If someone isn’t engaging with your content, it’s not because they don’t have time – it’s because they don’t want to.
This year, brands will need to understand our patterns of attention and deliver content in a format and length that fits the platform, as well as the genre.
#2 The great escape
We’ve begun to realise that owning more stuff doesn’t make us happier; in some cases, it just gets in the way. Experiences are becoming the predominant economic offering. We’ll see people spending the majority of their time, money and effort pursuing tangible, engaging and immersive experiences that enrich their lives.
Far more than products, experiences generate memories that we revisit and remember. They’re also enhanced when we share them – and, in doing so, offer brands an opportunity to cement their place in people’s hearts and minds.
#3 The new connoisseur
Our identity is no longer constructed by what we consume – now, it’s how we consume that matters. Passion, not privilege, is the new gateway to becoming a connoisseur.
Whether it’s coffee or chocolate, pizza or pencils, there’s an ever-growing range of blogs, brands and publications discussing these topics, defining leading authorities on anything and everything. Whether or not people actually are connoisseurs is irrelevant – it’s their perception of themselves as such that really matters.
Turning 21 used to be the gateway to growing up, but the deadline is being pushed back as traditional milestones of adulthood like a stable job or homeownership are set aside, or considered unachievable. Millennials aren’t prepared to settle, and don’t want to restrict future opportunities with the decisions they make now.
Tinder’s success illustrates the shift from long-term relationship to ‘hookup’ – and the ‘keep playing’ option encourages people to keep looking. T-Mobile’s Uncarrier plan lets subscribers switch or upgrade whenever a better deal comes along.
Ownership is over. Get flexible, or get lost. You have been warned.
#5 Personalised perfection
Customised products and services are no longer a desire – they are an expectation.
Craft culture, 3D printing and the ‘third industrial revolution’ are all a part of this mindset – but it goes much further. Coca-Cola Chief Technology Officer Guy Wolleart says we’ll soon see drinks that are tailored to our genetic makeup. Motorola’s new Project Ara offers phones that are fully customisable and open to third party development.
People are looking to customise how and when they want things, according to the specific needs they have at any given time. Canvas8 thought leader Joe Pine has been talking about mass customisation for nearly 20 years – it’s time to catch up.
#6 Predictive assistants
The next stage of branded utility is already here – Google Now. Intelligent, predictive assistants will revolutionise the way we interact with brands and services plugged into big data and the web.
And though the mention of big data inevitably raises questions about privacy, the solution to our concerns is actually clear to see – usefulness. People will happily exchange their data if they receive an improved or more relevant service in return.
#7 From fringe to fridge
Halal, gluten-free, kosher and vegan food have typically been dietary requirements – but they’re now becoming positive choices that many are making to pursue ethical, healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
Companies like Hampton Creek Foods are striving to balance economics with ethics by applying high tech processes to natural plant proteins in Silicon Valley labs. Even Jay Z and Beyonce are getting in on the act, having announced they’ll be going “plant based” as part of a challenge for the rapper’s 44th birthday.
Expect to see more fringe foods filling fridges this year.
#8 Work is the new religion
Do you work to live, or do you live to work? Jobs, particularly for the young, are scarce – and we’re doing more than ever to get one, and hold on to it.
From unpaid internships to 50-hour weeks, work has become the new religion. Having a strong work ethic is increasingly valued and respected, and working hard is becoming the preferred lifestyle choice.
What do brands have to do today to be part of young people’s lives tomorrow? The surprising – yet simple – answer is to “be useful every day”. Busy lives need solutions that are simple, practical and make things better.
Amazon Lockers, banking apps, Click-and-Collect, KLM’s Must See Map or McDonald’s GoMcDo app – it’s all about offering convenience and developing solutions that fit in with our lives, rather than asking us to change the way we behave.
#10 The new meaning of life
As American radio personality Dennis Prager observed, “God isn’t doing well.” We’ve become disenchanted with traditional institutions – and instead, we’re looking elsewhere for guidance and support.
Director of Havas Media Labs Umair Haque believes “the next global economy isn’t just about stuff, it’s about human lives.” From The Sunday Assembly to TED, a growing network of radically inclusive congregations is coming together to celebrate “the one life we know we have” – and to find a better path for the future. They represent a global shift in our preferences for brands whose values chime with a sense of conscientiousness, potential and well-being.