The year ahead: My marketing and social change predictions for 2018

Date: 20/12/2017 Written by: Kelly 7 minutes to read.
Opinion

It's December. Another year is drawing to a close and it has become normal practice for me to share some of my marketing (and Social Change) predictions for 2018. So before I clock off for Christmas, here are some my predictions on what to expect in 2018.

Gender.

A growing number of young people are moving beyond the idea that we live in a world where sexuality and gender come in only two forms. Expressions of gender and sexuality that go beyond this-or-that are nothing new, but they’re increasingly moving from the margins and in 2018 I predict a greater move to the mainstream. We have seen outdated gender stereotypes being challenged in 2017 like never before and in 2018 we will see advertising accelerating the movement. New standards on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics were developed by the ASA and they are now developing a new rule and some guidance on the depiction of gender stereotypes in ads, which they will consult on in spring 2018.

Chatbots.

Chatbots saw a rapid rise in 2017 and I think we can expect to see a takeover in 2018. One of the failings of Chatbots so far is that very few are useful or memorable, so many people don't come back, but as Chatbots get better and more sophisticated (less robotic, and perhaps more human like, dare I say), we will start to see Chatbots embedded into our everyday lives. I have recently purchased (and started a relationship with Alexia). She is fast becoming a member of our family! In my work, I am already seeing the potential for bots in behaviour change. Bots can be there at times and on occasions when real people are not. Like 9pm on a Sunday evening when a smoker is considering giving up. Or a Tuesday evening when trying to locate the nearest pharmacy. Chatbots will be the 'go to' for businesses and brands in 2018 seeking to serve customers in a more cost effective and smarter way. We can expect bots to be used to handle general enquiries and manage common customer interactions too. Say hello bot.

Drones.

Not the first time Drones have been on my list but 2018 will see this technology move from being a playful spaceship to something far more useful. Expect drones to be bigger, better and operating at a much larger scale. Recent technological breakthroughs have made drones cheap and technologically advanced. Their usage is growing fast. Drones today are much like cars were a century ago. When the Ford Model T came on the market, cars stopped being an expensive, niche product, and became an affordable, useful, mass-produced commodity. Within a few years, vehicle numbers had exploded. I think we can expect the same with drones.

I think what excites me about drones is its potential beyond delivering parcels. Drones on their own just need a pilot with a remote control, but if many companies are to be believed, there will be significant drone traffic in the sky before long, delivering parcels, supporting law enforcement, and providing public services on a far grander scale than now. Quite exciting.

Goodbye millennials.

When talking to (or about) young people, many use the term millennials. But we have transitioned to Generation Z and many people haven't even noticed. In fact, we should now be talking about the next generation following Gen Z, which is yet to be named (although, talk on the street is that it might be called the Alpha generation). The oldest Gen Zers are now 22 years old and entering the workforce. This is a generation of people who were, at most, nine years old when Facebook came out. We need to take some time to really understand Gen Z if we have any hope of engaging people under 20 years old on their level. We have been doing research with Gen Z this year and we plan to do more in 2018 but as a starter for ten, let me tell you a little about this generation and why they are different to Millennials. First, they use up to five screens a day and aren’t married to any specific platform. They are using every platform, and checking them all frequently. As for the type of content they are interested in, most are looking for video, especially “day-in-the-life” videos, behind the scenes, and how-tos. I could go on but check out our blog earlier in the year about the 'generations' if you are interested in finding out more about people across the ages.

Virtual reality - the new reality?

Virtual reality and Augmented Reality has been on my predictions list for a few years now. Like many, I have predicted that VR is the next big thing in content, and although it has been popular in the video game community it has so far failed to go mainstream. There has been some interesting developments in both the VR and AR world this year and I think we can expect more in 2018. Instead of virtual reality, augmented reality is predicted to make an impact next year. Look no further than Apple's rumored AR glasses. Lets hope it is better than the Google Glass.

So I predicted that VR and AR will go mainstream in 2017 and I was not right about that one but Facebook did give us a glimpse of what social media will look like in a virtual reality world with Facebook Spaces (currently in BETA). It's not quite ready yet and not quite delivering, but it promises to transport us to truly immersive new experiences and be the primary driver of the social media experience in 2018. So maybe I was just a little early and optimistic with my prediction back in December 2016. I am however in no doubt that this will be the first of a host of new immersive social platforms coming our way so I not prepared to take VR and AR off the predictions list just yet.

Purpose.

It's what I bang on about most (if not all) of the time. And finally, purpose marketing is set to take off in 2018 in a big way. Research tells us that as many as 79% of consumers would prefer to purchase products from a company that operates with a social purpose. A business that does good. Those who have been doing this for some time have seen amazing results and it is not hard to understand why. Purpose-driven marketing creates authentic and engaging conversations with customers. If you are genuinely interested in marketing with heart then check out my blog on mattering (and drop me an email because I love to talk about marketing and mattering). I really hope that purpose makes its mark in 2018. We are launching a really exciting product in 2018 that I can't wait to shout about so watch this space!

One last plug, (for the non-marketers) I did a TedTalk on how individuals can matter more in October so check this out if you want purpose in your life.

Social media in 2018.

It has been making sweeping gains but in 2018 Instagram is likely to be more valuable than Facebook. Approximately 800 million people use the platform each month and it is growing. Instagram Stories, became more popular than Snapchat just one year after going live and I predict Instagram is going to become the go-to channel for marketers in 2018.

I'm sad (slightly) to predict that in December 2018, I could be writing an eulogy to Twitter. Twitter has been unable to grow users in 2017. The platform has focused on user acquisition rather than on making improvements to their ad platform. As a result, marketers are already using other social media platforms to connect with prospects. I personally get frustrated that I can't even target users based on location - a simple ask in this age. Unless Twitter pulls its finger out, in 2018 it will struggle.

But, a platform that I used to hate (but now loving more every day) is likely to make it big in 2018. Unlike Twitter, LinkedIn has made a number of great improvements to their platform in 2017. A site-wide revamp refreshed the LinkedIn user interface in 2017 and the platform also saw good improvements to the LinkedIn ad platform and this is a good thing for the business to business network.

In-car ads

Finally, self-driving cars are on the horizon. Most of us know this. But before we have even got the cars properly on the road, many marketers are thinking about what to do when drivers no longer need to pay attention to the road. Of course, most will be consuming content - checking emails, watching TV... With that will come in-car ads. I predict many brands will be experimenting with this new marketing channel in 2018.

So there we are... some of my predictions for next year. I hope 2017 was successful for you. I hope 2018 is happy, healthy and impactful!

What do you think will take off, change, impact or flop in 2018? Share your comments below or join the conversation on one of our social media channels. Links are on our homepage at the bottom.

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