Thoughts 04.11.15

The Future Laboratory – Uncovering the 21st century consumer

Working in this industry, the question we always find ourselves asking is how do we continue to excite and entice the consumers that we spend endless hours of each day pouring over? Well, after spending a blistery mid-October afternoon in the presence of the white-coated staff of ‘The Future Laboratory’ (TFL), it seems that there are some people who appear to have cracked it.

Amidst the historic and palatial surroundings of Milton Court, the team at TFL (not the blokes from the Tube) led the 250 strong audience through a medley of consumer trends to look out for in 2015/16. The first section of the presentation was an insight into ‘Anti-Authenticity’ – the prediction that 2015/16 will see the much needed burial of the vinyl record playing, obsessive beard growing and cynical voice of the 21st century hipster. In 2010 it was to novel to tout your brand’s heritage or weave fictional yet intriguing brand tales, but, in 2015, these stories are tired.

The ethos of brands moving into this next year should be ‘ahistorical’, with claims to authenticity not resting on what brands have done in the past, but rather, what they intend to do in the future. As far as TFL are concerned – the usage of these words are not going to do your brand any favours: authentic, artisanal, crafted, experiential, immersive, curated, innovative, disruptive, bespoke and heritage. Consumers are tired of the recycled, retired and regurgitated narratives. Looking ahead, brands must pause, reflect and produce with the consumer in mind – show them that their lives are reflected in your brand in a human, yet unexpected and fun way.

Anti-authenticity is just one of the things for brands to be weary of when planning their calendars, as well as, according to the experts, a delicious little term known as ‘Bricolage Living’. Fear not if bricolage isn’t a word that frequently features within your vernacular – we thought it was a modern spin on a broccoli cauliflower dish – however, a couple of slides later, it all began to make sense.

The modern consumer is an entrepreneur with an increasingly global perspective. Brands now have to appeal to a tetherless and temporary purchaser, those who move seamlessly between cultures to exploit business potential or opt for a better quality of life – someone that TFL refer to as the peripatetic consumer.

As we hurdle toward the second half of the troublesome teens (2nd half of the decade to the layman), brands must strive to extend, express and exist worldwide with people by taking a homemade product, strongly associated with its origins, and make it in new locations. According to GSMA intelligence, half of the world’s population will use mobile devices to access the Internet by 2020 – so, if consumers are increasingly browsing whilst on the move, brands must ensure they aren’t caught staring into space.

TFL’s spectacular showpiece reached its crescendo with a 20-minute presentation titled ‘Revelation Brands’. According to their online think tank, brands are embracing chance and randomness to provide distracted digital natives with the moments of the surprise they crave. Mindlessness and serendipity are the two core pillars to this shifting trend, with competition for market share, attention spans and consumer loyalty higher than ever.

What was glaringly obvious throughout this present glimpse into the future was that at this intensely saturated time where everybody is stuffocated, brands must, above all, constantly adapt their strategies to accommodate for the 21st century consumer. A breed that is agile, increasingly tech-driven and can see through the demise of those all too familiar fabricated narratives.