11/12/2015 - 12:00 am

Top 5 Innovation Trends Of 2016

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Trends are more valuable now than ever. They help us make sense of all of the information we receive on a daily basis and create a framework for how we understand rapid change. According to Trend Watching, there are five major trends that are reshaping customer expectations in 2016 and beyond. These trends are a handful of near-future fragments of the Bigger Picture.

STATUS TESTS

Status is the No.1 motivator driving much of what people do, whether they acknowledge it or not. Although Millennials have shifted their status fixation away from ownership and towards experiences, they’re embracing new forms of exclusivity.

Experienced and savvy consumers have become more comfortable with the idea of brand-led demands that ultimately serve customers' best interests. And STATUS TESTS do just that, by allowing consumers the chance to prove skills, creativity, good taste, [insert status marker of choice here]. Consumers are now proving themselves to brands. And, what's more, want to join gated communities of others who've done the same. 

In October 2015, Lee Jeans launched a campaign across 32 cities in China to promote a range of heat-retaining denim. The campaign encouraged people to get outside (even in the cold) and explore their cities while tracking their movements with the Warmth Tracker WeChat app. Warmth Index points were accumulated when users scanned QR codes at scattered locations. They could then exchange their points for Magma Fusion denim products and access to exclusive events. 

When it comes to implementing a status test within your organization or brand, be fearless. Asking customers to prove themselves to you may seem counter-intuitive, but the more stringent the test, the greater the status hit. Think beyond traditional credentials and markers of brand loyalty. Who do your customers aspire to be? How can you set a STATUS TEST that lets them prove something meaningful? For rising numbers, crowdfunding has normalized a mode of consumerism where people are not mere consumers, but a community of evangelists. Once you've set a STATUS TEST, those who pass are a ready-made, high-status community of like-minded (or like-skilled) peers. Foster it! 

CONTEXTUAL OMNIPRESENCE

In 2016, smart brands will focus on answering a meaningful equation: innovative channels + nuanced contexts = right place + right time. It’s all about new channels and new contexts.

People are increasingly embracing brands and services that embed access to new, exciting and useful products into their core offerings. 

In May 2015, Antwerp’s Hotel Banks unveiled the Mini Fashion Bar. It’s just like a hotel mini bar, but for clothes. Each room is stocked with a range of apparel and accessories, chosen according to the weather and activities in the local area. Guests are invited to use clothes from the fashion bar and purchase items upon checkout.

Start by asking why customers might embrace you using a channel. Next, challenge whether existing channels really satisfy the deep needs and wants of your customers. Could you create any new ones? Finally, imagine entirely new contexts you could leverage (perhaps even those that customers aren’t yet consciously aware of). Bring all those together and deliver CONTEXTUAL OMNIPRESENCE: being in the right place at the right time. 

INSIDER TRADING

Internatl culture is an external asset. Cultivating a strong internal culture is not only good for the people who work for you, but also a great marketing strategy. In 2016, turn inwards, and start by ensuring your internal culture is something to flaunt, rather than hide.

A great example of this is GrabTaxi, a taxi booking app which operates across South East Asia. In May 2015, the company expanded its GrabLife driver welfare program to Thailand after launching a similar fund in Singapore. The initiative sees the company deposit 14% of the THB 7 (USD 0.21) journey fee it receives into the GrabLife fund. Drivers who meet the quality and loyalty criteria are then eligible for life insurance, income protection and crisis support. Further benefits include English language lessons and educational scholarships.

BENEFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

In 2016, more people will demand that brands use increasingly powerful and accessible artificial intelligence technologies to put truly smart products and services into their pockets, homes, and inboxes.

With the onslaught of exciting new technological advancements, innovators have stopped just viewing the world through the lens of technology, but have started viewing technology through the lens of basic human needs and wants. How can we use technology to deliver something people actually want?

In September 2015, Swedish train operator Stockholmståg announced it had developed an algorithm that uses big data to anticipate train delays two hours in advance. Developed by Swedish mathematician Wilhelm Landerholm, The Commuter Prognosis gives warning of anticipated delays and warns passengers of changes in departure times.

PERSPECTIVE SHIFTS

This trend is all about playfully repositioning your product or service in order to offer PERSPECTIVE SHIFTS that shock customers into a radically new appreciation of the value you're offering. People will be more open than ever to innovations that play with and disrupt their thinking around value.

In a world of instant price transparency and crowdfunding perks, pricing has become more playful and innovative than ever. In April 2015, budget airline Transavia  created packets of chips, candy and cereal bars that double as tickets for a Transavia flight. The products were sold at participating shops, and vending machines, and cost between EUR 30 and EUR 40. Customers who bought the products could use a code printed on the packet to secure a flight to Barcelona, Lisbon or Dublin. 

This playful trend is made possible by epic shifts in expectation when it comes to value and pricing. How can you reframe your product or service as something else altogether in order to offer a PERSPECTIVE SHIFT on the value you bring? One starter question: if you had to pick a product that's the opposite of yours when it comes to value positioning, what would it be? If chip packets (casual purchase, grab quickly, ephemeral) can be airline tickets (considered purchase, carefully researched, memorable)... anything goes!

Read 3483 times Last modified on 2/6/2016 - 5:06 pm
Joi M Sears

Joi M. Sears is a creative strategist, freelance journalist and social entrepreneur. She is the founder and Creative Director of Free People International, a social enterprise which specializes in designing sustainable products, creative platforms and innovative experiences for the greater social good.

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