Trend Watch: A Look Forward

Head of Insight Bexy Cameron identifies and embraces the changes that are getting Amplify excited about...

The only constant is change

Yet if we are constantly changing, it’s strange how rarely we discuss it. It’s as if we need the January juncture to push us into both reflecting on the year behind, and looking forward to what lies ahead.

This year “Future Forecasts’ have been riddled with technological advances in IOT, big data and beyond. While we at Amplify love our memes, Phablets and Neuromorphic Chips as much as anyone, what really inspires us, are the changes in our industry that have people at the very heart of them. Right where they should be. Whether through content, gaming, social, or branding it's the developments that create deeper connections, and emotional responses that we feel have the most significance.

Intimate, Emotive Reality

Virtual Reality this year vows to become both more intimate and emotive – it’s an area that, whilst historically promised a lot, has been hard to pull off – a culmination of monstrous costs and/or clunky user experiences. But when VR is done well, it is so immersive that it feels like the technology is invisible. And that's where the creative opportunity lies – in experiences that are intimate for the audience. Creatives are helping us explore the outside world with new multisensory experiences that augment nature and urban spaces. For example, Moment Factory in Quebec turned a night-time trail into an immersive experience that included mythical creatures and illuminated trees all to the backdrop of a beautiful soundtrack. The ‘streetscape’ is becoming a rich palette not only for interactive retail and location-sensitive games but for experiences too. This is not tech for tech's sake, but aims to bring emotion and experience that enhances rather than distracts.

In Bed with Beyonce

There has been a twist in our visual culture, not through advances in technology, but strangely almost the opposite, with lo-fi content capture bringing the intimacy and realness that audiences demand. A good example of this form of art imitating life was Beyoncé’s “homemade” music video, “7/11” that could easily have been produced by a fan from a hotel room in Las Vegas. This created an experience that makes the viewer feel like they are right there in that hotel with her. This is especially important when considering Millennials, who are used to both creating and watching their own content. Sometimes the slickness we crave in the brand and creative world can detract from emotionally connecting to the piece, and can create obstacles rather than intimacy.

Entertainment gets real

In this vein, entertainment, from books to music to video to advertising and content, is seemingly becoming grass roots-led and putting consumers centre stage. For example, Twitch, a destination for the live broadcast of consumer video gaming, has 55 million unique visitors and a million participating broadcasters; a platform that connects gamers to each other and the wider world.

Social with Heart

A slow burner of change has been how consumers, particularly Millennials, are starting to think of themselves as brands, curating their online image and monetizing it through social media clout, micro-retail platforms and YouTube. While this development might feel egocentric, it’s not all ‘me me me’ for the millennial. This same set of people are also discriminating between brands by looking for ethical behavior and sustainability. Seeking brands and companies with clear values. Which means that many brands are focusing their efforts on using innovation and social initiatives with genuine merit to tell their stories, and allowing social media to do the rest. This provides real, authentic stories for brands and a way for consumers to connect emotionally. This is also a good way to involve fans and influencers in campaigns.

It has long been said that Connections, both creating them and discovering them, is how we find meaning life. The list of changes and future predictions for the coming years is always going to be immense, demonstrating that change really is constant, and as long as we strive to constantly find new ways to connect with each other and the world around us, we believe the future will be both bright and beautiful.