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The Top 10 Trends For Marketers, According To JWT

JWT’s annual Trends Report identifies play, privacy, and your insane amount of stress as key among trends for 2013.

The importance of play, the effects of stress, and the increasing concern about private spaces in a public life may all have significant impacts on the marketing landscape in 2013. According to agency JWT, these are among the top 10 trends outlined in its 2013 Trends Report.

Informed by quantitative, qualitative, and secondary research, the eighth annual forecast is reflective of how new technology continues to influence communication, with major shifts tied to warp-speed developments in mobile, social, and data technologies.

Says the report’s author Ann Mack, Director of Trendspotting at JWT, "Many of our trends reflect how businesses are driving, leveraging or counteracting (technology’s) omnipresence in our lives, and how consumers are responding to its pull."

JWT’s 10 trends for 2013 are: Play As a Competitive Advantage; The Super Stress Era; Intelligent Objects; Predictive Personalization; The Mobile Fingerprint; Sensory Explosion; Everything is Retail; Peer Power; Going Private in Public; and Health & Happiness. (Each trend is listed in more detail below.)

Of the trends, Mack finds most interesting the rise of privacy hacking. Rather than rejecting social media and sharing tools outright, she says the trend is toward maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining and managing a new notion of privacy for the 21st century.

"Consumers are quickly coming to realize that ultimate control of their online privacy is out of their hands—even for those who diligently tweak the privacy settings on their profiles. With a few lines of code, Web titans can destroy carefully walled gardens, turning the task of maintaining the desired degree of privacy into an onerous chore," says Mack. "It’s not just the Web powers-that-be that can toy with a person’s public persona, however—it’s also tag-happy, share-happy friends who don’t realize that just because something is public information or done in public doesn’t mean people want it publicized."

She cites a survey JWT conducted in November in the U.S. and U.K. that found that 1 in 5 adult respondents, and more than a third of Millennials and a quarter of teens said they’ve had secrets accidentally shared by friends via social networks. "The social-media savvy are finding ways to put some privacy back into their public lives, pruning friends lists, hosting photo-free "dark rooms" at parties to deter social media–sharing and creating Facebook pseudonyms to avoid the prying eyes of employers and others," says Mack.

Brands have already begun responding to this trend. In Argentina, Norte Beer launched its Photoblocker, a beer cooler that emits a bright light when it detects a camera flash making any photos unusable, ensuring "what happens in the club stays in the club."

While reclaiming privacy is a new trend, Mack says mobile continues to be a significant factor that continues to evolve. First spotted as a trend in 2009 when the mobile device was dubbed the Everything Hub, technological advancements and behavioral shifts have made smartphones even more multifunctional. "Our 2013 trend, The Mobile Fingerprint, showcases that development," says Mack. "Our smartphones are evolving to become wallets, keys, health consultants and more. Soon they’ll become de facto fingerprints, our identity all in one place."

As for emerging trends, Mack points to the concept of "everything is retail" as one of the interesting newcomers. For retail, mobile technology is enabling brands to turn anything—from bus shelters to print magazines—into a retail channel. "As a result, we’ll see shopping shift from an activity that takes place in physical stores or online to a value exchange that can play out in multiple new and novel ways," says Mack, pointing to the example of a "virtual pop-up toy store" created by Mattel and Walmart Canada in Toronto’s underground walkway, featuring two walls of 3-D toy images with QR codes that consumers could scan with their phones to purchase.

Mack says that all trends, like any complex and dynamic human phenomena, are not preordained. But by understanding what’s coming, brands can better stay ahead of the curve. "Once trends are spotted, they can be shaped. We believe that foreseeing trends allows us and our clients to stay ahead of and meet emerging consumer needs and wants before anyone else does," she says.

JWT’s 10 Trends for 2013

(Excerpted from the report)

1. Play As a Competitive Advantage: Adults will increasingly adopt for themselves the revitalized idea that kids should have plenty of unstructured play to balance out today’s plethora of organized and tech-based activities. In an age when people feel they can’t spare time for pursuits that don’t have specific goals attached, there will be a growing realization that unstructured time begets more imagination, creativity and innovation—all competitive advantages.

2. The Super Stress Era: While life has always been filled with stressors big and small, these are mounting and multiplying: We’re entering the era of super stress. And as stress gets more widely recognized as a serious medical and cost issue, governments, employers and brands will ramp up efforts to prevent and reduce it.

3. Intelligent Objects: Everyday objects are evolving into tech-infused smart devices with augmented functionality. As more ordinary items become interactive, intelligent objects, our interactions with them will get more interesting, enjoyable and helpful.

4. Predictive Personalization: As the science of data analysis becomes more cost efficient and sophisticated and consumers generate more measurable data than ever, brands will increasingly be able to predict what a customer needs or wants—and tailor offers and communications very precisely.

5. The Mobile Fingerprint: Our smartphones are evolving to become wallets, keys, health consultants and more. Soon they’ll become de facto fingerprints, our identity all in one place.

6. Sensory Explosion: In a digital world, where more of life is virtual and online, we’ll place a premium on sensory stimulation. Marketers will look for more ways to engage the senses—and as they amp up the stimuli, consumers will come to expect ever more potent products and experiences.

7. Everything Is Retail: Shopping is shifting from an activity that takes place in physical stores or online to a value exchange that can play out in multiple new and novel ways. Since almost anything can be a retail channel, thanks largely to mobile technology, brands must get increasingly creative in where and how they sell their goods.

8. Peer Power: As the peer-to-peer marketplace expands in size and scope—moving beyond goods to a wide range of services—it will increasingly upend major industries from hospitality and education to tourism and transportation.

9. Going Private in Public: In an era when living publicly is becoming the default, people are coming up with creative ways to carve out private spaces in their lives. Rather than rejecting today’s ubiquitous social media and sharing tools outright, we’re reaping all the benefits of maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining and managing a new notion of privacy for the 21st century.

10. Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand: The pursuit of happiness is an age-old human quest, as is the pursuit of better health. But in the modern age, we’ve tended to see these goals as distinct, not intertwined. That’s been gradually changing: As the idea of "wellness" became part of the terminology, with both mind and body taken into account, our concept of health has grown more holistic. Now, happiness is getting folded into the idea of "health and wellness" as experts in science, medicine and psychology point to their interconnectedness.

[Images: Flickr users Tom, William Hartz, and Jadendave]

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