Written by Caroline Stringfellow & edited by Chris Cable

Technology, the internet and consumer behavior have created a rapidly changing landscape that influences and interacts with our lifestyles. Medical advancements, wearable technology and non-fungible finances are recent additions most of us hadn’t predicted ten years ago. Today, we’re looking ahead to reflect on how these changes have evolved our ways of thinking, behaving and, of course, advertising. Read along as we identify 5 trends that we think will continue to grow and affect us for better or for worse over the next decade.

Non Fungible Tokens ... Huh?

Cryptocurrency investors, gamers and art collectors are already in on the booming digital ecosystem of Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs). For those who are curious, NFTs are Non Fungible Tokens, or unique assets that are verified and stored using blockchain technology and can’t be replaced by anything else. Existing in over 157,000,000 ethereum wallets today, NFTs are showing no signs of decline. The digital assets are built in ecosystems designed to reward long term holders, presenting an attractive business model to buyers. From Sotheby’s auctions to celebrity buys, there are many strong predictors of future NFT success—so how can you get in on it? 

Companies should consider ways to establish value by taking a page out of the gaming and art collecting sectors’ notebooks. The real-world utility of buying art NFT’s has already translated to three-dimensional aspects. London and Cologne have created NFT exhibits and Manhattan is opening an entire museum dedicated to them. Consider how your brand could display, engage with or nurture NFTs to stay relevant with investors and, ultimately, consumers.

Advancing Technology: Wearables

Wearable technology has been successful in everything ranging from healthcare functions to improvements to workplace efficiency. Wristwear tech is becoming lighter, smaller and available in more brands, releasing more affordable options and giving consumers a wider selection. Facebook, now Meta, is releasing the latest in smart glasses. This past year smart watches and bracelets have seen an emergence in health monitoring features including blood-oxygen SPO2 sensors, thermometers and virus-tracking features that alert the user when their levels are abnormal. Smart masks are being produced with active filtration, virus killing UV light functions and voice amplifiers. Tech specialists have spilled plans to develop “stress canceling technology” worn like headsets, that send vibrations to specific areas of the head, producing stress-reducing effects. 

Looking ahead, brands should ask themselves what innovations they can bring to the wearable tech table; benefiting mental health, physical health or entering uncharted territories. Better yet- how can your brand incorporate this technology into your team to increase efficiency and staff happiness? It also begs the question, are these items exempt from advertising? And if not, you might want to consider how your brand would integrate with these latest forms of media.

Automation = Convenience

Google Home and Alexa are two of the big players in automated tech. Employed citizens worldwide toggling between work-from-home flexibility and entirely remote schedules are taking advantage of the benefits automated technology offers. Convenience capabilities including asking searchable questions, setting reminders and calendar appointments, and learning about the weather verbally are making multitasking easier than ever. 

The downside? These devices aren’t immune to data breaches, security hacks and errors in command detection. Working from home with these “always listening” devices in range poses an increased risk for data leaks, overhearing and oversharing conversations that weren’t intended to be posted, and a number of other blunders. Companies can address and prevent this by enforcing heightened privacy protections and security firewalls. 

Brands can use automated technology to their advantage by incorporating verbal buying options and audio ads into various device features. User data and behavior while engaging with the devices can also be helpful for brands targeting specific markets. In a world of convenience, your brand needs to find its own contribution.

eCommerce Meets Augmented Reality

Lockdowns spurred a surge in shop-aholism, overwhelming the eCommerce industry. Retailers were up to their turtlenecks in business while delivery companies failed to keep up with demands. Online shopping is undeniably accessible, and the introduction of smart mirrors allowing consumers to virtually try on various items before purchasing them makes the activity increasingly convenient. In anticipation of this trend’s growth, brands can find ways to integrate into environments where augmented reality helps users connect with products and services. Companies that provide services can find ways to integrate advertisements and evoke interest from shoppers actively using emerging devices. 

However, brands should look ahead for ways to engage in environmental initiatives combating things like “fast fashion” that produce a hefty carbon footprint. Upcycling activations, spreading awareness to the public or sponsoring events battling climate change are all opportunities for businesses to help reduce the damage of these trends and to improve their perception in the eyes of the public.

The Trajectory of Inclusivity

While we’re making progress toward inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility, there is still much more to be done. Minority leaders suggest blatantly addressing the huge amount of inequity that currently exists, where the gaps are and what needs to be done to close them. Diversifying boards, leadership talks offering education on the issue and creating more open environments where different perspectives can be shared are all a step in the right direction. 

Flex CEO, Revathi Advaithi, says companies must “find a way to sponsor women, sponsor minorities, sponsor Black people… we don’t need more mentoring.” Looking ahead, we hope to live in a future of diversity, cultural awareness and early education promoting and encouraging perspectives from individuals of all genders, races, backgrounds and belief systems. 

To move forward, businesses must truly evaluate their diverse representation, awareness and sponsorship of minority communities both internally and in their advertising. It’s no longer about only representing the idea of your audience, it’s about ensuring the public see themselves represented in the totality of the media landscape, using your products and services. You’ll never go wrong including different voices in your brand.

Tech, financial and consumer-facing industries are continuing to innovate and change before our eyes. The conveniences and benefits of these shifts should be appreciated but not overshadow the opportunities they present to brands. These functions inspire us as brands to consider how we can prepare for, respond to and maximize the benefits of these changes to create stronger and more effective presences. We are excited for what the future holds, and as we watch to see how things unfold, we hope you’ll reach out to us for help navigating your brand’s influence through innovative insights, creativity and platforms.