Top Consumer Trends in 2017 That Have Put New Demands on How We Design Customer Experiences


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I would like to just review the trends that we identified at the beginning of 2017 that we believed would create pressure for how new experiences needs to be designed and set the bar for consumer expectations and I think they have created that pressure!

The basic human needs are not changing, but how people are meeting them is being shifted by external change. I went on a quest to look for innovations that are changing what consumers expect from brands and this is a summary of what I found.

While reading this, I would like you to ask yourself what this means for your specific industry and your brand, and how can you keep meeting (and exceeding expectations) into the future as we see these innovations integrate into the way we live.

There is a polarity to most of these trends where people follow the trend but also lean towards its opposite.

The first trend – Intelligence

We are seeing more and more collective intelligence where customers are being asked feedback on products, where ratings are being actively used to improve products. We see groups of people interested in a specific topic who are now learning from each other be it fitness fanatics, nature lovers or tech geeks. They have the means to with technology gather in large scale and build collective intelligence.

At the other end of the intelligence scale, we see artificial intelligence emerging much stronger than before.

Some examples:
Google Home
Robochats replacing customer service agents

The second trend – Engagement

We are seeing people becoming more attached to devices that record and report their every move. More organizing and outsourcing of tasks are being left to technology and wearable technology to fulfil.

See these examples:
Snapchat glasses

We are also seeing people detach deliberately with public announcements that they will be going ‘off the grid’ to rest and recuperate. People are feeling the strain of being online all the time, and they are deliberately creating disciplines to make sure that there is offline time. “The right to disconnect” law that was passed in France aims to protect employees from the expectations of employers that they are available all hours to respond to emails.

The third trend – sharing and trust

Looking at how people are innovating around spare capacity and sharing of space, it would appear that trust in our fellow humankind is increasing. The proliferation of sharing office space, sharing living space, buying second-hand clothes is on the uprise.


Silver nest a service for empty nesters and baby boomers to find a roommate

But as easily as people trust and share, they crucify the brands that violate the ethics and values that come with sharing your most intimate spaces with a stranger. Trust remains a fragile commodity and once broken, brands may never regain the trust of their patrons.

The fourth trend – Living Experiences

Through the research for this article, I have observed the trend of people becoming more open to life experiences than buying material goods. Just looking at the proliferation of articles on ’Things to do before you die’, the number of bucket lists for experiences that people want to have, tells me that people are looking for experiences that give them stories to tell and visual stories to record on Facebook, Instagram, and their personal messaging apps.

Some examples of living experiences:

The foodie culture where people become part of an artisanal food experience
Wellness and fitness experiences
The Pokemon go experience where people became part of the game
Suspended adulthood – ball pit bars and treehouses

The fifth trend – real vs unreal

Online stores are opening up pop-up stores. Look at Facebook and eBay creating pop-up stores for a day.

We are seeing more great examples of virtual reality and augmented reality.

Brands are focusing on creating a higher purpose than just profit as is evident in the DNA story by Momondo

And if you are an ABBA fan, they are planning a virtual tour in 2018!

The sixth trend – exceptional originality

I struggle to be impressed with innovation. I am a hard grader but some of the marketing campaigns, product innovation, experiences offered to consumers have just blown my socks off. The reason, it’s original, remarkable! I think the cynical side of when you have been involved in business and tech innovation too long, is that you use the ‘cop out’ that ‘everything has been done before’ because I too fear that ‘the best if over’. Well, the best is not over, here are some examples of exceptional innovation:

Amazon drone delivery
Garment swapping platforms
Personalised clothing
3d printed foods
Human tear cocktails
Behavior changes

If we look at the millennials entering the workplace and becoming the largest economic power these are some of the behaviours that they bring with them:

Instant gratification
Inferiority (status needs are not met)
Information overload
Instant success

So what does this mean for experiences that we design for brands today?

Can we use these trends to get ahead of the change curve and to appeal to the early adopters of these changes?

Here are some questions that will help you think through how these trends impact your business:

Are we harnessing the intelligence of our consumers, or do we continue to believe that we know best and they will buy from us
We are struggling for people to trust our service advisers as much as what they do their devices?
How can we gain more intimacy with consumers, either through technology or using the principles of technology – being reliable, fast, consistent
Sharing and trust
How can we get trust back, since there is a lot of trust going around?
How can your brand establish the trusted relationships it once had?
Feedback systems where you listen for a change? Rating systems that you pay attention to.
Living experiences
Stories make the world go round – how can your brand create positive experiences worth sharing?
What are the breadcrumbs that you can enable people to leave through the woods for other consumers to find?
Real vs unreal
How can your brand create real experiences and add meaning to the ones that are deliberately designed to be unreal?
Exceptional originality
If you think that everything has been invented, what do you need to think differently?
Behaviour changes
What does this mean for how we design the roles for the future?
What does this mean for how we lead?
What does this mean for how we structure our organizations?

Chantel Botha
I'm Chantel Botha, the author of "The Customer Journey Mapping Field Guide" and the founder of BrandLove. I help business leaders to empower their teams to live their brand proudly. I am passionate about closing the gap between what a brand promises and delivers in reality. Employees are often the moment of truth in customers' experiences with a brand. Over the last 15 years, I have perfected the recipe to turn ordinary employees into Brand Warriors.


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