2016’s expected trends read a bit like the plot points of The Terminator. But it’s not Skynet collecting your data, it’s probably Boots or something, and they only want it so that life’s easier for you, not to eventually destroy humanity. Or at least that’s the impression Boots are giving…

In 2016 we’ll see marketing turn away from the sales pitch approach and move further towards emotional connections with relevant content. The idea is not to force products down an unwilling customer’s throat, but focus on your brand and your story – tug on the heartstrings and create a lasting emotional connection. We call this relationship marketing, where the intent is not to have quick, short-term acquisitions, but sustain long-term customer engagement. Think the John Lewis ads you wait for every Christmas, you’re already a returning, long-term customer just by looking for them. Companies will be like a soul mate rather than a one-night-stand – which sounds a lot less seedy.

Personalisation is evolving even further in 2016 with the way we collect data. Like some Orwellian dystopia (minus the torture and plus the GHD adverts), advertisers can compile personal preferences through your phone, laptop and, well, whatever else you own that’s connected to the internet really. Plus, the adoption of wearable technology, such as smart watches, allows data to be collected on a person’s day-to-day habits, which will have a huge impact on how advertisers engage with their audiences. Realistically, if advertisers know what they’re doing, it should mean content is more relevant to the individual.

One key piece of data collected through wearable technology is location. Location-based services will become far more essential in 2016 with the development of this kind of technology. Targeting based on location will reach full tilt, since never before has there been so much data about individuals and their whereabouts.

Apps for individual businesses will become much more commonplace in 2016. The functionality of apps are advantageous over websites, and though we won’t see the change happen for several years, eventually it is predicted that apps will replace mobile-friendly websites on smartphones.

They say that most people only watch 15 seconds of a YouTube video before they’ve decided whether or not they’ll continue to view it. With popular apps such as Snapchat and Vine laying the groundwork, the way to attract the millennial user is ephemeral marketing. The younger generation wants to be offered exclusive content with an expiration date, short and to the point – creating an element of urgency.

The last trend we have to mention probably won’t become mainstream for a while, but in the first quarter of 2016 Occulus Rift are expected to launch their new Virtual Reality device, alongside other VR companies. If the new technology takes off, and we expect it will, we could see a complete reshape in marketing as brands can transport users anywhere they wanted in their personalised virtual universe.

Isn’t this how The Matrix started? Sort of (not really), but we don’t really care as long as we can play Call of Duty on a VR headset.

 

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