Mary Meeker’s annual reports are more than just latest digital trends, new technologies, emerging online behaviours – they provide valuable insight into the future of brand strategy.
This year’s report is no less illuminating.
In sum, it emphasises the growing influence of the consumer and the importance of brand experience.
Technology is increasingly at the forefront of our brand experiences
Meeker’s report suggests smartphones are losing their dominance in the innovation stakes as global sales growth slows. Taking up the slack is voice, like Amazon Echo, and gaming, particularly among younger audiences. Along with VR and connected devices, these technologies are transforming the way people interact with brands in the future.
As new platforms proliferate, they’re also blurring
Navigating a proliferating array of channels and platforms is a fact of life for consumers today as much as it is for brands who want to know how best to connect with them. Meeker’s report highlights that channels are also becoming more integrated and fluid. Facebook is also a sales and payment channel, Snapchat is entering original broadcasting, Starbucks’ mobile wallet and Venmo peer-to-peer payment app are becoming new kinds of media channels, and chatbots, built into websites or social media, are becoming the new customer service. Meeker’s report also highlights how China’s biggest social network has launched on-demand bike sharing.
There is no sign we’ve become weary of wearables
About 25% of Americans now own some form of personal data tracking device, up 12% from 2016 (European sales of Fitbit have grown 70% over recent years). Meeker’s report highlights that 60% of consumers are willing to share their health data with the likes of Google in 2016, while our own Future of Money survey found 50% of Irish consumers would be willing to share their financial data with their banks to track their personal finances.
What does this mean for brands?
- Consumers are more in the driving seat and have more choices about how to interact with brands. As technology becomes a more central part of those brand experiences, the emphasis will be on making those experiences smoother and more seamless.
- Yet, while consumers may have more choice, the pace of innovation can also feel overwhelming, and brands should tread carefully and ask themselves: what do we know about our customers, and would this make their lives better, easier, etc?
- In this context, as we’re seeing with cutting edge consumer brands like Domino’s Pizza, what brands do is becoming at least as important as what they say – people increasingly expect brands to be useful, more than merely relevant. Consumer insight remains the key.
- The rise of voice is a particular challenge for brands because it bypasses the visual elements of branding – logos, package design, point-of-sale – and presents quite a challenge to brands and agencies to figure out how to use voice for that purpose. Burger King’s recent stunt is interesting, but voice is very much new territory.