Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Societal, Technology and COVID-19 Trends

As marketers, we need to stay abreast of societal and technology trends. Here are some trends that will have large impacts on our lives:

Societal trends:

  • While globalization continues, nationalism and "buy local" trends increase
  • Rise of the global middle class while the US middle class stagnates
  • Increased tribalism in the US
  • Global climate change and its consequences - increased catastrophic weather events, pandemics, environmental hazards, damage to cities and infrastructure and creation of refugees leading to national security risks
  • Increasing anxiety throughout the world
  • Increased feelings of alienation among those who cannot keep up with societal and technology changes
  • People connecting through tech (social media, smart phones, online communication platforms)
  • Organized religion continues to decline while personal spirituality increases
  • The role of women becomes more dominant in society, including in leadership roles (causing a backlash from men who feel threatened)
  • Aging population, including increased aging at home
  • Fewer and fewer people are employed by large organizations, while the gig economy continues to grow (putting pressure on how health care is paid for)
  • There is a continued decline in materialism and consumerism. People have been moving from purchasing products to purchasing services and experiences for decades. A more recent trend is toward simplifying one's life, especially as the average age in the US increases. 
  • There is continued movement from capitalism to socialism
  • Cohabitation among unmarried partners continues to increase
  • Legalization of marijuana, popularity of CBD
  • Emergence of "fake news" - What is real? What is truth? The sophistication with which fake photographs and videos can be created is increasing. This will increase tribalism as different tribes will have completely different perceptions of the facts and reality itself. 
Technology trends:
  • AI in customer service, especially in telephone and online support
  • Digital assistents (e.g. Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Facebook M, Blackberry Assistant, Briana, Hound, Amazon Echo [Alexa])
  • Computer vision (including facial recognition)
  • Autonomous driving, ultimately leading to decreased job prospects for truckers, taxicab drivers and even Uber/Lyft drivers
  • Continued automation of an increasing number of jobs, including in the white collar sectors (e. g. medical internists and contract lawyers)
  • 3-D printing (this has applications across a wide variety of industries and even makes it easier to make things at home)
  • 5G data networks
  • Cloud computing
  • Blockchain technology (can aid in sharing money and other commodities with others, proving identity and ownership of assets, run a decentralized marketplace, vote, manage healthcare records, trade cryptocurrencies, etc.)
  • Business use of personal data including all of the marketing and ethical implications of this
  • Data analytics, leading to personalized and predictive products and services (including in the medical sector)
  • Data risk, leading to more jobs in this area
  • Extended reality (virtual environments, human-machine interactions)
  • Telemedicine, mobile medicine and self-diagnostics using wearable technology
  • Continued dominance of tech companies whose online platforms benefit from economies of scale and network effects (leading to more super rich entrepreneurs)
  • Decreased ability to remain private online and even off-line (due to security cameras, smart phone tracking, automobile tracking, facial recognition, etc.)
Trends emerging from COVID-19:
  • Increased use of online communications (e.g. Zoom, GoTo, Join.Me, ClickMeeting and Cisco WebEx)
  • Increased delivery of services and experiences online (e.g. online concerts, theater, fitness routines, etc.)
  • This will speed up the growth of home delivery services of everything
  • More people will work from home, leading to the downsizing of company offices
  • Increased need for a comprehensive national health care policy that works for everyone, including the reemergence of the "single payer" option
  • May lead to a desire for less consumerism and more balanced, simplified lives
  • Will push people toward online commerce, speeding up the death of struggling retail brands and shopping malls - shopping malls will need to reinvent themselves
  • Loss of jobs/income and decrease 401K and IRA asset values may either reduce household budgets and spending or delay retirements and extend working years
  • Urbanization has been a long term population trend. People have been moving out of smaller towns and rural areas where there are fewer jobs. They were moving into urban areas. New York City, Boston, Seattle and other major cities were the most popular destinations. Then those metropolitan areas became too expensive so people began moving to less expensive medium-sized cities. COVID-19 has created a mass exodus from major population centers back to suburbs, towns and rural areas. Will this trend continue or is it a temporary trend?
These are a couple of other blog posts I have written on trends:
Brad VanAuken's Brand Aid book has sold more than 25,000 copies, been translated into several languages and is used by business schools throughout the world to teach brand management and marketing. If you haven't read it yet, get your copy here.

And here is a great new book about retail trends by an expert on the subject, friend and former HBS classmate, Steve Dennis. Remarkable Retail: How to Win & Keep Customers in the Age of Digital Disruption


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