Howard says the idea that brands can create and control their own future is a change in mentality from the last few years.
At this time last year, she claims, firms mainly wanted to know how to combat upcoming problems with the dismal economy or their industry. Now brands are keen to seize back control from external circumstances and invoke their own version of the future.
So how can they do this? Howard suggested five trends that she thinks marketers need to know for the next 12 months.
1. Magic nostalgic. This is all about creating an emotional connection with consumers. It involves emphasising heritage while bringing the past into the present. One example is The Gentlewoman magazine, which is a style magazine that looks modern but is not only focused on young readers. Veteran actor Angela Lansbury was a recent cover star. It fuses a modern look and feel with more traditional editorial values.
2. The end of adventure. These days people are so well informed that they will check a restaurant menu out online before they go to eat there. People research everything. There is a role for brands that can offer consumers a feeling of adventure, real experiences and a sense of risk missing from the rest of life.
3. Gamification. Although this trend has been around for several years, it is going to reach an increasing number of companies and industries. All brands, including even supermarkets, need to consider how to set their customers challenges and reward them, as is done in gaming.
4. Native marketing/advertising. This means bringing consumers into the brand and its operations. Think about mobile phone network Giffgaff, which gets its users to participate in aspects of the brand’s marketing or customer services. More brands will use collaborative techniques in future.
5. Murdered by modernity. This trend recognises that 50% of people never turn their phone off; this apparently rises to 70% among younger people. This means there is a market for brands that can offer consumers a chance to escape the ‘always on’ culture that pervades the rest of their lives.
Interesting ideas. But do these five themes sum up where your brand is putting its energy in 2013? Let us know.