Look past the clichés about how “business as usual is over” and “the relentless pace of change” and you’ll see the great paradox in today’s business arena: the truly exceptional has become wholly unexceptional. Indeed, the one constant is that customers share a common mindset: astonishingly elevated expectations, applied ruthlessly to each and every business, product, service or experience available.
Here are three expectation-raising trends that forward-thinking brands must be fully aware of — and innovating around — in 2016.
1. Contextual omnipresence
As the erosion of boundaries between online and offline channels combines with rising expectations surrounding personalisation, 2016’s customers will expect brands to serve them where they are, when they are and in real-time. Who would have thought a washing machine could be a retail channel until Amazon stuck an Amazon Dash, ‘one-touch buy’ button on it?
So, forget device-focussed omnichannel discussions, and start thinking about truly relevant, contextual omnipresence.
2. Beneficial intelligence
Consumers have heard much about artificial intelligence this year. In 2016, they will expect brands to begin putting this burgeoning tech trend to use in services that make smart decisions on their behalf. Think services like those created by Facebook Labs, which has revealed plans for an AI system that will scan uploaded photos and warn a user if they could be potentially embarrassing.
How can you use AI to serve basic needs – safety, convenience, connection and more – in 2016?
3. Livestream prisoners
Periscope, Meerkat and others have immersed digital-savvy audiences in livestreamed content this year. The next opportunity? In 2016, customers will look to brands to turn livestreaming into a truly immersive experience by demanding active participation or effort in order to watch.
Earlier this year, environmental charity Earth Hour streamed concerts to smartphone and tablet users who had to meet one condition – they had to be in total darkness to watch (light conditions were detected via the camera on their device). How will you create a truly participatory livestream in 2016?