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Brand experience and marketing trends for 2015

From digital detoxing to embracing the power of “nice”, we've noticed a few trends that are shaping up to be influential in brand experience going into the new year. What ties them all together? It’s people’s expectations, needs and desires that are driving these trends—that will determine their impact and longevity. The brands that understand this and interpret the trends through a people-centric lens will have a much better chance of intuitively connecting with people to foster brand love and steer the path to purchase.

In our latest white paper, learn what people will want from brands in 2015, and see our tips on how to interpret these trends in a meaningful way.

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Brand experience and marketing trends for 2015

  1. 1. What people will want from brands in 2015 What people will want from brands in 2015 1
  2. 2. Another new year on the way and more trends we should be following. But if you haven’t got the ‘gadget du jour’ lined up for your next campaign, don’t worry—neither have we. Don’t get us wrong, we love a bit of futurism. It’s vital that we can anticipate how the key changes in the way we live our lives will impact on people’s experiences with brands and what they expect of them. But to achieve this we need more than a beauty parade of the latest technologies and tactics. Have you ever noticed how it’s often more fascinating to watch people’s reaction to using tech, than the tech itself? We want to know if they will like using it, if it will answer or even exceed their expectations, needs and desires. Our interest in this is such that it’s not the new gadgets or tactics, but rather how they impact on our emotions and fit with our lifestyles that are driving the shifts in how we live our lives. So it is through this people-centric lens that we must view the latest trends—we must understand how they make people feel. It’s understanding this that can help us connect with people on an intuitive level, and prioritize putting emotionally-driven experience at the forefront of campaigns. This may seem obvious, but in fact most campaigns are still driven by a rational proposition, with the emotive campaign aspects added as window dressing. But to be the default choice for a consumer—the no-brainer—you need to be speaking to the subconscious in the language it knows. You need to be tuned into people’s intuitive decision making which drives their path to purchase. So here are nine tips (ten is SO last year) from our brand experience strategists, on how to interpret the latest trends through a people-centric lens. And to help brands get closer to what people want. What people will want from brands in 2015 2 Nine tips for interpreting the trends through a people-centric lens, from the world of brand experience
  3. 3. 1What do these campaigns have in common? Relevant, useful, personalized, even charming use of data, where people and their needs Our feelings about data use are, of are at the heart of its use and not a course, largely related to trust. And this drive to build databases or manipulate isn’t likely to decline anytime soon—the actions. more awareness increases over our data use and the more technology Another key influence on people’s can achieve, the more trust comes into comfort with data is having a choice question. Facial scanning and targeted to opt-in. This means live brand-experience, advertising anyone? which is opt-in by nature, is particularly well-placed to utilise But although trust is an issue for many, advances in data technology. People it’s less of a problem for those who attending live experiences tend to be have never known a life without tech. both open to brand communications A survey for Softchoice ¹ published and actively looking for ways to make earlier this year found that millennials the most of their experience. were the most likely to lose data or Brands combining relevant, leave themselves open to hacking. It useful, personalized, use of reflects a different attitude—one that data with live experience, for a places less value on their own data millennial audience particularly, and can view the relationship between will see their opportunities themselves and brands as potentially escalate as tech advances in more symbiotic than parasitic. 2015. And some brands have done some lovely things with data (BA, Molson Canadian, Coca-Cola). What people will want from brands in 2015 3 Parasitic or symbiotic?
  4. 4. What people will want from brands in 2015 4 2Wearable is springing up everywhere and we are only going to see more of it. There’s some really cool wearable tech (Olive), some questionable wearable tech (Google Glass) and some wearable tech that remains to be seen (Apple Watch). If wearable gets it right it’s a win win—being both naturally opt-in and telling us something about our favorite topic— ourselves. And wearable’s appeal through telling us something about ourselves is strengthened when that thing is our emotions. This is powerful on an individual basis, but can be hugely impactful en masse within a shared experience. We have already seen this used through wearables that measure biometrics at stadium gigs and music festivals, but we can expect to see it move beyond this world. For example—XOX wristbands, which display emotion through color, gravitated beyond their maker’s music industry roots and were seen at the Saatchi & Saatchi New Director’s Showcase at Cannes Lions in 2014. In the right context and with a genuine benefit or interest to the wearer, wearable can augment immersive experiences beautifully. To wear or not to wear
  5. 5. 3Makes sense can get all the information you could ever need online, people’s desire for immersive experiences seems to become Everyone’s talking about even more imperative—just as you can get immersive, but how many all your nutrients in one super juice, yet experiences really nail it? experimental, immersive food experiences After all, we have five senses (like Brooklyn Fare, Tuscan Gun and the for a reason—yet most brand Art of Dining) are popping up everywhere. experiences are all about With advances in sensory technology, the visual. partly driven by medical R&D for sensory And there are signs that out in the deprivation, brands can start to think about offline world we want to really feel engaging beyond the visual. Scent, taste, it, not just see it. 2014 was the year sound, touch—and we don’t just mean a that Punchdrunk went mainstream with touch screen. Secret Cinema close behind. People are seeking out one-off, sensory, visceral experiences.² While you What people will want from brands in 2015 5
  6. 6. What people will want from brands in 2015 6 4A report from Latitude ³ showed that having a mobile device with real time information makes people more spontaneous with shopping and, in general, more open to discovering new things. This love of spontaneity is reflected in the success of mobile apps like Tinder and last minute ticket app YPlan which play on feelings of spontaneity and discovery. And apps like Yo. and Drake Shake, which work simply because they raise a smile and help us connect easily with friends. Sometimes all we’re looking for is a change of moment—a bit of light relief and something we can share on a whim. So is the proliferation of mobile use driving this trend for spontaneity? There’s no doubt mobile makes it easier for us to seize the moment, but people’s love of impulsiveness and fun is as old as the hills. So mobile may not be actually driving a cultural change, but it is certainly a highly significant enabler. For brands that want to tap into this trend, it is the ‘enabling’ that is key. Spontaneity may be enabled through mobile, or it may be through another channel—but it’s understanding why and how people want to be spontaneous and driving the campaign through that insight that is most likely to make an emotional connection with people and not the channel itself. Spontaneous living
  7. 7. 5We might love doing things on a whim, but we love it even more if the service that’s offered also has a practical application and makes our lives easier. But I thought we were saying that people are irrational, emotional creatures? We hate to admit it, but there is a logical side to us too… And actually whim and practicality are more aligned than you may think. We have a need for relevance and utility— to cut through the noise and achieve our goal as quickly as possible. But we also have a need to support that goal, which is often driven by an emotional and perhaps indulgent desire, with a logical justification—as anyone who’s ever heard someone justifying their recent purchase of a luxury car can attest. So services that can help curate our worlds of all-consuming choice and help justify an emotionally driven desire through their utility are on to something. From online personal stylists (Thread), for men who like clothes but What people will want from brands in 2015 7 hate shopping (there are men who hate shopping?!) and on-demand personal assistants (Wun Wun) to nutritious meal planners at your door (Hello Fresh)— tailored services are on the rise. But if we can achieve all our custom requirements online, what does it mean for bricks and mortar experiences—are they now surplus to requirements? As is so often the case, competition from new sources breeds creativity and opportunity. Tailored services are inspiring change in our physical world. They are helping enhance experiences. US store Hointer, for example, will deliver the right size to your changing room after you select with your smartphone. And they are creating whole new experiences—Rijksmuseum allows people to not only download and print art, but also manipulate their catalogue of works of art, copyright-free. This takes people-centric to a new level, and is surely a taste of things to come. Suits you
  8. 8. What people will want from brands in 2015 8 6 So we love our mobile-enabled, wearable tech-augmented, data driven lives—but we don’t always want a constantly-connected existence. As demonstrated by PSV Einhoven football fans, not loving the offer of free WiFi in the stands due to its obstruction of the live spectator experience. Meanwhile German brands are showing us how it should be done and taking steps to protect workers from the relentless demands of email—Daimler is deleting them before they hit holidaying workers inboxes. And Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom limit work—related emails on evenings and weekends. There’s an opportunity here for brands to help support those times when we want to be offline and to facilitate real world experiences. Kit Kat’s Free No WiFi Zone in Amsterdam jammed signals and encouraged people to ‘have a break’ from the mobile and reconnect with real life—you know have a real, live conversation. And brands don’t have to be offline themselves in order to help facilitate real-world experiences—sites such as The Londonist curate analog experiences for you, so you can spend less time online. Digital detox
  9. 9. 7It’s one thing facilitating our real-world experiences, but how many brands are actually in-tune with people’s emotions? How many utilise the link between sensory stimuli and emotional response? The more our senses are stimulated, the more intensely memorable an experience will be and the more likely we will be to make an emotional connection with the brand. For many of us, our most frequent brand experience is often at retail. And unfortunately we’ve all had an experience that negatively affects our mood. The harsh lighting, poor layout, invasive music, bad customer service— you have to really want that item to persevere and part with your money. But retail is also innovating in this area and we can learn much about creating empathy within a live experience from this sector. In fact, some brands What people will want from brands in 2015 9 have understood this for some time. Selfridges has a ‘Silence Room’—a soft, subdued mobile-free space where people can escape the bustle of the shop-floor. It seems ground-breaking, but Selfridges actually created its first silent room in 1909! And Switchrooms in the ShinQ shopping center in Japan—has soft lighting, sound and artwork which helps shoppers switch mindset from work to play and vice-versa. In this way, sensory brand experience can connect with people on a level that other more traditional forms of advertising struggle to achieve. In fact, science has shown that sensory stimuli can convey those crucial but hard to impart abstract meanings and values far more powerfully than words—representing a particularly exciting opportunity for brands. Empathetic environments
  10. 10. What people will want from brands in 2015 10 8It’s great being tuned into people’s feelings about themselves, but as a people we’re not actually as entirely self-centered as all that. And these days we expect brands to do more than just pay lip service to CSR. During the 2014 World Cup, Millward Brown reported a high level of understanding in the UK of the contradiction of hosting such an event in a country where people have so little. People were likely to hold not just government and FIFA accountable, but also the sponsors. Some brands, however, are aware of this. While you would expect a charitable brand like UNICEF to be so, it would have been easy to just be a nominal partner and benefit by association with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. But by taking an active role in the opening ceremony, UNICEF made the partnership work for them and the people of the Commonwealth—they helped the games reflect the ideals of the Commonwealth and raised more than £5m. And movements to help business do its bit are emerging as well. Aussie business movement Big Hearted Business educates and supports other big-hearted type business people, creating a community of knowledge and experience sharing. Their mantra is ‘Do what you love, make money, save the world’… And if that’s not enough to convince you, ‘being nice’ gained a lot of recognition at Cannes Lions this year. Nice is the new black
  11. 11. 9may resonate emotionally, but remain detached from people’s needs and how they would interact with it. Great brand experiences need to When we think of the biggest take a holistic attitude to their people-centric innovators today, we think of product approach, meeting expectations and service designers, often amongst and needs, as well as intuitive and the most successful Kickstarter emotional desires. campaigns. What’s the secret of their So in 2015 the most successful success? Their iterative, R&D prototype brands will innovate the approach ensures that how people experience—take inspiration will interact with and use the product from those Kickstarters is both well understood and feeds into and make an attitude of the design. innovation—of iterative, This relentless attitude to testing humanistic R&D—a natural and re-testing is an area to watch state of mind when it comes within brand experiences. But many to experience. experiences are still created within a bubble—beautiful experiences which What people will want from brands in 2015 11 Experience innovation
  12. 12. What people will want from brands in 2015 12 Talk to us — Contact Melinda Lindland SVP, New Business and Group Account Director Read our blog at Follow us on twitter @jackmorton Visit us online at ¹ ² 73% of US and UK millennials are seeking experiences that stimulate their senses. (JWT report 2013) ³ About Jack Morton We’re a global brand experience agency. We generate breakthrough ideas, connecting brands and people through experiences that transform business. Our portfolio of award-winning work spans 75 years across event marketing, sponsorship marketing, promotion and activation, experience strategy, employee engagement, digital, social, and mobile. Ranked at the top of our field, Jack Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG). More information is available at: or @jackmorton © Jack Morton Worldwide 2014