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Five Trends To Prepare For In 2017

20/01/2017 13:20 GMT | Updated 20/01/2017 13:20 GMT

As the dust settles following the world's largest consumer tech show, CES, brands and consumers will be mulling over what prospects the latest gadgetry might hold. While some may find the latest tech developments exciting, others are concerned by the increasingly connected world. To help us make sense of the varying attitudes, we set about uncovering the truth of how these technologies are viewed by the everyday consumer and pinpointing five key trends for 2017.

1. Reality Check

When it comes to the use of AR and VR, many people view these technologies as unchartered territory. For VR, there are some apparent barriers such as lack of trial, the cost of headsets and the current underwhelming user experience. While there is interest, most consumers surveyed are holding out on VR until costs fall and until they are more convinced about its relevance. As it stands, 43% of people surveyed believe that current VR and AR experiences are a bit of a gimmick, struggling to visualise its use outside of gaming.

However, with Goldman Sachs predicting that VR and AR will grow to be an $80 billion market by 2025, things are far more upbeat than they seem. Once consumers are made aware of real-life applications, opinions will naturally change, creating huge opportunities for brands to engage with customers. To work effectively, brands must first identify what content will resonate most with customers and then create a VR, MR or AR experience to fit, not vice versa.

2. Tunnel Vision

Whether we like it or not, our view of the world is becoming ever more personalised through digital - be it news or how we shop. According to our research, nearly half of all consumers (49%) agree that this level of personalisation doesn't encourage us to think for ourselves, with a further 48% believing that it doesn't provide a balanced view of information. More damagingly, nearly one in four (37%) people agree that it worsens divisions within society.

So how do brands find the right balance? Good social listening and community management are key and brands will need to think about who and what platforms people trust. Understanding the consumer journey across different ecosystems and devices will also be key in creating positive brand experiences.

3. Hassle Free

Smart meters are managing energy usage, coffee machines are automatically ordering fresh supplies and virtual assistants are alerting us to problems before our commute to work. More and more technologies are being invented to remove the hassle out of everyday life. However, while research shows that half of respondents said that they welcome any technology that makes life easier, 55% said they don't trust technology companies to make decisions for them.

Consumers still want to remain in the driving seat. 62% of consumers said that they didn't want to give up control of their life to technology. With this in mind, brands will need to not only communicate the benefits of convenience, but also be mindful of the emotional issues giving up control may cause. Good user interface design will also be key.

4. Connected Me

The future is all about more intuitive interaction with the web via the human body. Amazon Echo at CES is a prime example. While this trend is currently being led by voice, wearables and biometrics we are also seeing the development of implantables, embeddables and ingestibles.

Predictably the latter technologies provoke strong opinion, with almost two thirds of people not comfortable with the idea. Biometric identification and voice interaction were more familiar concepts which people could envisage more use of in the future. 45% of people can envisage a time where we rely heavily on voice activated services, although influenced by their current experiences with voice assistants such as Siri, half (50%) were sceptical about how good voice interaction can actually be.

For now, voice has perhaps the most profound implications for brands. Best suited to task-focused activities, voice will have a big impact on the consumer journey, favouring repeat purchase making it much harder for new or smaller brands to break in.

5. Digital Dieting

Research by British psychologists suggests young adults (those aged 18 to 35) spend on average as much as five hours a day glued to their smartphone. As a result, we're rethinking and adjusting our use of technology - putting ourselves on a digital diet.

The majority of people we surveyed (75%) believe technology has a positive impact on their lives, but concerns around things like online privacy, bullying, reduced attention spans and diminishing social skills remained. Nearly half (49%) of consumers think we should regulate how much technology we use and depend on and many are taking small steps to address these areas of concern, such as only buying a certain amount of data or switching off at certain times of day.

With technology permeating even more areas of our life and the pace of change happening at an exponential rate, there is a real need to find the right balance of technology in our lives, a fact that 76% of people agreed with. For brands, this means avoiding the temptation of barraging people with too much information or relying upon them being constantly connected in order to build genuine brand attachment.

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