Here are three key trends set to shape the industry in 2019:
1. Make it just for me. The transition from mass-produced consumer goods to personalized products and services is an old story, with implications still reverberating among brands and consumers. And more change is on the way. It’s time to get ready for the age of “precision” consumer goods.
Consumers will come to expect products that are created just for them -- whether that’s a food product custom-made for their individual genetic makeup or a running shoe adapted to their unique anatomy. And brands will soon be able to go even further and tailor a product or an interaction to an individual’s particular mood. That’s personalization on a whole new level.
This takes companies far beyond mere supply chain and fulfillment challenges. Manufacturing itself will need to change dramatically. Expect to see brands increase their ability to make very late-stage product adjustments, as well as moving manufacturing much closer to consumers.
It’s already happening. Intelligent Brewing Company invites consumers to provide input on flavor and carbonation levels that is then fed into the brewery’s algorithm to produce new recipes refined using real-time consumer feedback. And L’Oréal is using a high-tech mix of algorithms and machines to make foundation tailored for individual customers’ skin shades.
2. The personality test. Consumers are attracted to people, not products. That’s why influencer marketing is so effective, after all.
And brands will be tapping into this need for personal connection by articulating a clear purpose -- one that expresses their heritage, their ethics, their sense of fun, and more.
Get that right and a company can effectively “personify” its brand, giving it a unique personality that consumers can really fall for..
Anthropomorphized, a brand becomes part of a consumer’s everyday life. And when that happens, new things are possible. Look at how Brewdog has evolved from a punk craft brewer into a personality its global fans have embraced wholesale. The brand has now moved into hospitality, become a subscription content streamer, and even offers investors the chance to fly on the world’s first craft beer airline.
3. Shrinking the thinking. Convenience matters. But what we understand as “convenience” is changing. And in 2019, brands need to be alive to the more nuanced trade-offs that consumers are willing to make.
Gone are the days when convenience always meant fast and easy. Now, it’s multifaceted and context-dependent. Sometimes it’ll be about simplicity (“don’t make me think!”), other times it’ll be about precision (“give me exactly what I need!”).
Look at how Amazon Go is redefining convenience for the digital age. The company’s cutting-edge technology and data science aren’t just making the in-store shopping experience seamless, they’re also helping Amazon fine-tune the assortments that will most appeal to consumers in each locality.
And what about the myriad new ways brands are helping customers cut out the complexity from day-to-day living? Whether it’s “help me do it” (meal kits), “do it for me” (Task Rabbit), or “get it right for me first time” (hyper-personalized recommendations), smart brands are taking consumer convenience to new places.
The catch? Convenience taken too far can be creepy. Yes, there are huge selling opportunities in tapping into real-time data that, say, a consumer is shopping for new sneakers right now. But brands must always stay the right side of the line. The message for 2019: Be smart and sensitive, not freaky and frightening.