It has not been far off twelve months since we began sketching out our Future of Britain study. Phase one was launched in May and documented four key areas of change driving and shaping the Future of Britain:
- Crunched consumers: The legacy of a deep and prolonged economic downturn on consumers’ mindset and decision making.
- Britain re-imagined: A reassessment and re-appreciation of Britain’s role within the world, and the brand opportunities that this entails.
- People dynamics: How shifts in population and household structures are changing what we consume and how we make decisions.
- Reappraised values: The new social norms emerging in Britain, and how brands can leverage these to engage consumers.
In late summer, we embarked on phase two of the study: an ambitious large scale mobile ethnographic study of over 200 Britons we called Living with Future Britain. This produced over 15,000 data points, from which we have interpreted, examined and extrapolated to forecast some of the prevalent trends we feel will dominate the consumer agenda in Britain tomorrow. Below is each key topic, summarised by some of their component trends.
- Digital Retreat: We forecast a change in consumers’ relationship with technology. Expectation will be for seamless integration of technology that runs in the background, as consumers shift from an always on state to one of on / off.
- Anonymity Illusion: Consumers will become increasingly aware of their privacy and data, as well as its value to brands, and a value exchange will arise between consumers and brands
- Connected Greys: The Silver Surfer is about to evolve, as this vast audience – in both size and wealth – embraces connected technologies, creating myriad opportunities for brands
- The New Brandsphere: The rapid growth of technology brands has reframed the brand ecosystem; we forecast more traditional brands behaving like technology brands to stay relevant.
- Private Squeeze: The downturn saw consumers seek value, and sales of private label goods boomed. Private label brands have continued to innovate and have given birth to the pick’n’mix consumer, one who happily consumes branded and private label goods in equal measure.
- The Trust Erosion: Trust is at an all-time low, and forecast to fall further. Brands, and organisations, need to rebuild from a low base or risk further alienation as consumers seek alternatives.
- Experience Street: How we shop is changing, but ‘death of the high street’ headlines are wide of the mark. We predict the high street re-imagining itself, harnessing digital innovations and delivering the experiences consumers desire in an increasingly virtual world.
- Stack and Snack: Device proliferation and content fragmentation have created a stack and snack consumption model. To cut through, brands need to leverage creativity and innovation to engage an easily distracted consumer
- The Ad Dodge: Devices and technology are creating opportunities for consumers to dodge their advertisements in increasing numbers. This creates opportunities for brands and shifts the emphases onto new ad formats. Interruptive is out and native is in, storytelling needs to take place across screens and content that adds value, as opposed to including content for content’s sake, will win out.
- The New Sensibles: Generation Rent – those now in their late teens and early twenties – have a new realistic, grounded and sensible mindset. They are careful, not careless consumers and they seek personal growth rather than salary growth.
- Shy vs Shameless:Generation Rent have a different attitude to social media to their predecessors. The permanence of platforms like Facebook are giving way to more ephemeral services like Snapchat. We forecast this to accelerate.
- Here to stay, and say: Ignited by the downturn, the trend for young people to stay living with their parents is establishing itself into a long term behaviour, with significant implications for brands, from portions and packaging to media consumption and communication.
We look forward to sharing these with you, and watching them unfold and manifest over the months and years to come.
Have a great 2014.
The Future of Britain team