Every year I write online consumer trends. It seems superfluous, with all the trend items that you find everywhere and that are already dated when you pin down. So why actually? And what is my approach?
From October I start collecting figures, surveys, press releases and columns. I watch documentaries, check facts and above all: discuss what I see with my environment. That provides surprising perspectives and additions, especially when I talk to people from another generation or with a different background.
Online consumer trends 2018
I mainly want to provide an annual benchmark in how our behavior as consumers changes. Not every innovation leads directly to new offerings in the market, and not every offer is embraced by the general public. And every year you can actually identify the same trends, because if all goes well, they will last for a few years. Like last year I have AI as a trend, and next year it will be no different. To prevent that from happening, trend watchers throw (assuming I see myself) not as a trend watcher) the focus is on the distant, uncertain horizon.
The big surprise of today: that horizon extends further and further and we get there faster and faster. People like Elon Musk talk about technological ideas and goals (Mars), thereby creating their own trends. There also is a unprecedented accelerating in terms of innovation and adoption. You notice this in the generation gaps, behavior on the street, how we think and what we do. That sounds nice and sensational of course. But just check it out (for the people who can still remember this):
- What was life like without a mobile phone? How did you meet up with someone? What did you do if it was too late?
- How did you travel from A to B by car? On vacation or to a customer? Or sailing without electrical instruments?
- How did you maintain contact with people you liked?
- Do you remember your last work that you were not behind a screen?
As humanity we are becoming increasingly connected. On Facebook we are connected to everyone around the world through seven connections. The news we receive is increasingly about national, European and global events. That considerably enlarges our worldview: we now also have Black Friday (in America the day after Thanksgiving) for Christmas purchases, and Singles Day (Chinese holiday for the single youngsters) is really on the rise.
We are fascinated by the fact that Kevin Spacey is no longer playing in the new House of Cards season, which this year is launching Avengers: Infinity Wars or that Kim Kardashian has been robbed in Paris. Almost every tweet from Trump is read to us by the media. We are becoming more and more global consumers, if only because we are Europeans and the EU is coming into our lives more and more. This trend makes sense, because we are increasingly spending our money on digital, global services such as Netflix, Spotify and HBO. Our attention goes to social media. The things we buy will also increasingly come from global companies, such as Amazon, which is now coming to the Netherlands.
Local differences will always remain, but the more we go online (work, living, dating, shopping, friends), the more we go global.
I have a lot of my insights from one Kevin Kelly. With his beard, this techno prophet looks just like Chriet Titulaer, so that helps, and what he preaches about the expected developments is just as revolutionary as far as I'm concerned. In his book What Technology Wants he describes technology as the seventh kingdom in nature: started by the use of instruments by animals (termites, monkeys, birds etc), now in full force under our guidance and soon far beyond our influence (AI). What makes his approach so interesting is that he substantiates why technological change is so inevitable. In his book The Inevitable he describes twelve forces that will guide our next thirty years. Why? For that he goes back to evolution: if something is better, faster and cheaper, then renewal is just a logical consequence. Companies and consumers choose with their wallets, we want convenience and luxury. That is within us, and we act accordingly.
These trends have been 'googled' together: the information I use is freely available and with the right look and enough time everyone can predict their own trends. That is why you will find a link to everything, so that you can judge for yourself. I really don't expect everyone to click all links. If you find something interesting, then you do have the chance to deepen your knowledge. And that is another long-term trend, of course: more and more information - from NSA secrets to open source research into AI - is becoming freely available. The challenge: filtering. That is what these online consumer trends offer you. And that is also what we need in 2018: a filter on technology.
View on 2017
Do you have the 2017 online consumer trends also read? I thought it would be nice to review and explain the trends I mentioned a year ago. But they are largely open doors. As a consumer you know what is going on, you mainly want a substantiated explanation. Here are the reasons why I have adjusted a number of things compared to 2017:
- The world is also doing well: News and trends are not the same. News gives a wrong worldview, more negative than it should be. For 2018, I now use this as an intro to trends, along with global problems.
- Recurring figures: every year we are more online and we shop more online. That's why I chose for 2018 to turn these growth rates into one first part to place.
- Media, fake news and truth finding: With Trump as the future president, this was of course a cutback. In 2017 we learned how this trend was deeper than we could have imagined. For 2018 therefore extra floor, with the role of consumer data explained.
With so much text, language mistakes will certainly have crept into it. If you see something, please let me know. Ditto for broken links, or a nonsensical argument. I am also curious about how you experienced these trends in 2018. Written sharper than ever, I believe this is to interpret current challenges and developments. After becoming aware you can consciously make a choice. And remember: no choice is also a choice.