Trends Go Social part 2: A new dawn of personalization, and the importance of place


Image credit in order of appearance: FT Blog (cover image), Borrow My Doggy

The first in our series with We Are Social explored the relationship between STATUS SEEKERS and BETTERMENT and some key social trends of the moment. Part Two sees us unpack two more mega-trends from our broader Trend Framework - YOUNIVERSE and LOCAL LOVE - to uncover how these big, slow-moving consumer currents translate to the social sphere. 

Missed the first edition and want to get the full picture (including our definition of a Trend Framework, and why you need one)? You can do so right here. If not, it's time to dive in!


YOUNIVERSE: What, why and what next

Why? Because, in the consumer YOUNIVERSE, each individual's preferences and tastes reign supreme - so customized products, services and experiences have evolved from being revolutionary to near-ubiquitous. In today's consumption arena, every consumer wants to feel unique, and be served as such.

From the basic - serving a fundamental human need to feel individual, or in control - to the sophisticated (think biometric sensing and facial recognition), brands that can predict consumer preferences or offer post-production customization are the ones that will succeed in this field.

The We Are Social perspective

We’re now at the dawn of a new level of personalisation. Digital user experience is moving away from apps and websites, and towards more intuitive interactions like chat bots or voice based interfaces like Siri and Cortana. The beauty of these experiences is that all the information that the user is served is bespoke to the user, based on their profile, their previous interactions and real word information such as the time of day and location.

Google’s new Allo messaging service comes complete with AI capabilities which can help users find anything from local restaurants to film reviews.

The next step is for a truly integrated and genuinely helpful digital personal assistant. Amazon’s Echo is a speaker, search engine and personal assistant rolled into one. Installed in the home, Echo can learn a dizzying array of skills to suit its owners - from tailored news reports, to diary management, thermostat control or music selection. Hot on its heels is Google Home, which claims to go several steps further in terms of personalisation.


LOCAL LOVE: What, why & what next

LOCAL LOVE refers to exactly that - why ‘local’ is, and will remain, loved.

Despite globalization, despite online; place still matters. Whether driven by a sense of pride, authenticity, convenience and / or eco-concerns, 'local' products, services and knowledge will forever find favor with consumers.

Digital connectivity continues to make the world smaller but, for the much of the world's population, daily life still revolves around a fixed location, such as a city, province or country. Understanding – or at least acknowledging – evolving definitions of local and in a borderless world might not be easy, but brands prepared to take the risk will gain respect and admiration. Don’t deny place, embrace it.

The We Are Social perspective

Tech and, in particular, smartphones, are often blamed for distracting people from their immediate surroundings, but a number of services are springing up to help people better connect with their local communities. Borrowmydoggie is exactly what it sounds like - an app that puts dog owners in touch with dog lovers in the same area. The dog owner gets a low cost dog-sitting service, and the volunteer gets some much needed time with an adorable pooch.


Meanwhile, FixMyStreet connects residents with their local authorities to fix neighbourhood problems ranging from litter to potholes. Rather than having to look up the right local authority contact, people can either fill in an online form or just tweet the details to @fixmystreet and the service forwards it to the right person for them.  


We Are Social's research and resources offer a unique combination of skills and experience across marketing, creative and technical disciplines, all grounded in a deep understanding of social. You can read more on their social thinking here. You can also sign up for We Are Social’s Think Forward Event on November 3rd. This free event, featuring talks from Trendwatching and IBM, will be held at We Are Social’s offices in Finsbury Square, London. Register your interest at the Eventbrite page.

TrendWatching's full Trend Framework is available exclusively to clients of  TW:Premium