It is safe to say 2016 was rather a rough year. In fact, according to a CEB Iconoculture survey, it was deemed the worst year ever on social media by consumers. A level not seen since the Great Recession. This has led many consumers to reevaluate their priorities and brands take note. What does this mean for the New Year? Here are five top consumer trends to look out for in 2017:
1. Consumers are seeking to defend and protect the American narrative.
Values: Troubled by constant change and distrust in the media, government and politicians, this audience wants to protect the American norms and narrative. Their values? Conscience, integrity, belief and patriotism.
Trends to look out for: Whether it is way overdue, due or undue, brands will recognize this audience in some fashion.
Brands getting it right: Jeep. Highlighting the faces of America: from Aretha Franklin to members of our armed forces, children to older adults, Jeep is already embracing the trend of honoring all that is American.
2. Consumers are willing to burst their own bubbles.
Values: According to CEB Iconoculture research, 91 percent of consumers surveyed understand and are aware of their bubble, and 88 percent are bubble poppers. But why? This group of consumers value curiosity, diversity, trust and discovery.
Trends to look out for: Brands looking to acknowledge the bubble are willing to except scrutiny, emphasize surprise and delight tactics or address issues head on.
Brands getting it right: Probably one of the most sobering commercials that embraces this trend is the Sandy Hook Promise spot “Evan,” as it addresses the importance of gun violence head on.
3. Consumers are turning down the social raucous.
Values: Let’s face it, hearing about everyone’s political, social, environmental, educational and personal opinions on social media is a bit draining. Between the opinions, news stories, fake news stories and the latest gossip and drama, consumers are inundated with information and messaging. According to CEB Iconoculture research, there are over 2.4 million pieces of content shared on Facebook every minute. Content marketing is louder than ever these days and some consumers are taking small breaks from their social feeds to decrease the volume. In fact, 82 percent of consumers are actively engaging in noise reduction. Why? Because they value health, relaxation, serenity, diversity, balance and discovery.
Trends to look out for: Brands need to be prepared to acknowledge and recognize that consumers are unplugging. And when they choose to plug-in, they’re choosier about which brands to engage with. This means, brands need to be mindful to add value to social feeds, not just noise.
Brands getting it right: TJ Maxx. Nike. This Thanksgiving, the department store decided to partake in the noise reduction, by closing its doors on Thanksgiving. As part of their initiative to put value on what really matters, TJ Maxx wants to bring back the holidays. Nike too is reducing the noise by employing the idea that time is precious, asking viewers, “Are we running today?”
4. Consumers are wising up to influence marketing.
Values: Savvy social users are taking note when they come across influencers that post about brands. While some find it frustrating when branded content is not transparent, they won’t punish brands or influencers when sponsored. They, 43 percent in fact, tend to ignore influencer posts altogether when they’re not transparent.
Trends to look out for: Brands looking to retain their social savvy audience should be open and honest about promoted content and arrangements with influencers.
Brands getting it right: Starbucks. The coffee empire was completely transparent with this year’s designers of their holiday red cups. Through their red cup contest last year, Starbucks made it abundantly clear that their designers (influencers and consumers) were part of their promotion for this year’s holiday cup launch. Not only are the designs inspiring, but knowing they came from the consumers made it even more fun and engaging.
5. Consumers are using the past to confront the present.
Values: CEB Iconoculture deemed this to be a new nostalgia, newstalgia. While nostalgia uses the past to escape the present, newstalgia uses the past to confront the present. Why’s that? This consumer group values learning, inclusion, equality and honesty.
Trends to look out for: Brands looking to engage this audience should embrace newstalgic placement, place traditional nostalgia in new contexts but should choose nostalgic approaches mindfully.
Brands doing it right: Cigna. Yes, we’re talking Dr. McDreamy again, Turk and Hawkeye too. Not only did Cigna use TV’s most famous doctors to emphasize the importance of annual checkups drive the message home, but this ad places traditional nostalgia in new contexts.
What consumer group do you associate with? Let us know in the comments below. Interested in more trends and insights? Sign up for the Brogan Weekly Recap.