About the online consumer trends 2018

Understanding 2018 consumer trends

About the online consumer trends 2018

Every year I write the online consumer trends. It seems superfluous, with all the trend items you find everywhere and that are already dated when you put them down. So why actually? And what is my approach?

From October I will start collecting figures, studies, 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 a different generation or from a different background.

Online consumer trends 2018

Part 1: The online state of affairs in the Netherlands

Part 2: The Year of the Wolf

Starting point
Above all, I want to provide an annual benchmark in how our behavior as consumers is changing. Not every innovation leads directly to new offers 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 more years. Just like last year, I have AI as a trend, and next year will be no different. To prevent that, trend watchers (provided I see myself not as a trend watcher) the view is mainly on the distant, uncertain horizon.

The big surprise of today: that horizon is extending further and further and we are getting 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 sensational of course. But check it out (for those who remember this):

  • What was life like without a cell phone? How did you meet someone? What did you do when it was late?
  • How did you get from A to B by car? On holiday or to a customer? Or sailing without electrical instruments?
  • How did you maintain contact with people you loved?
  • Remember your last work that you weren't behind a screen?

Global unity sausage
As humanity we are becoming more and more connected. On Facebook, we are connected to everyone around the world through seven connections. The news we get is increasingly about national, European and global events. This broadens our world view considerably: we now also have Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving in America) for Christmas shopping, and Singles Day (Chinese holiday for the single youth) is really on the rise.

We care that Kevin Spacey is no longer playing in the new House of Cards season, which is due out this year Avengers: Infinity Wars or that Kim Kardashian was 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 comes more and more into our lives. This trend makes sense, as we are increasingly spending our money on digital, global services such as Netflix, Spotify and HBO. Our focus is on social media. The stuff we buy will increasingly come from global companies, such as Amazon, which is now coming to the Netherlands.

Local differences will always remain, but as we go more and more online (work, living, dating, shopping, friends), we become more global.

The Inevitable
Many of my insights come from one Kevin Kelly. This techno-prophet looks just like Chriet Titulaer with his beard, so that already helps, and what he announces 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 control 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 this he goes back to evolution: if something is better, faster and cheaper, then innovation is simply a logical consequence. Companies and consumers choose with their wallets, we want convenience and luxury. It's in us, and we act on it.

These trends have been flatly 'googled together': the information I use is freely available and with the right eye and enough time everyone can predict their own trends. That is why you will find a link for everything, so that you can judge for yourself. I really don't expect everyone to click on all the links. If you find something interesting, you have the chance to deepen your knowledge. And that too is a long-standing trend, of course: more and more information – from NSA secrets, to open source research into AI – is becoming freely available. The challenge: filtering. That's what these online consumer trends offer you. And that is also what we need in 2018: a filter on technology.

Look at 2017
Do you have the 2017 online consumer trends also read? I thought it would be nice to check and interpret the trends I mentioned a year ago. But they are largely open doors. As a consumer you know what is going on, you want a substantiated explanation. Here are the reasons why I changed a few things compared to 2017:

  1. The world is well too: 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 the trends, along with the global issues.
  2. Recurring numbers: every year we are more online and we shop more online. That is why for 2018 I chose to combine these growth figures in a first part to place.
  3. Media, fake news and truth-finding: With Trump as president-elect, this was of course a no-brainer. In 2017, we learned how this trend ran deeper than we could have imagined. For 2018, therefore, extra depth, with the role of consumer data explained.

Feedback welcome
With so much text, there are bound to be grammatical errors. If you see anything, I'd love to hear about it. Ditto for broken links, or a nonsensical argument. I am also certainly curious how you experienced these trends in 2018. Written more sharply than ever, I believe that this is how to indicate the current challenges and developments. After awareness, you can make a conscious choice. And remember: no choice is also a choice.

Thomas Lapperre



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