Everyday objects to become smarter, finds JWT trends forecast

MUMBAI: The world will see everyday objects become smarter as technology gets embedded into everything from eyeglasses to socks to bikes helping measure, navigate and augment the surroundings.

This is one of the key findings of WPP-owned global marketing communications brand JWT‘s eighth annual forecast of key trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mind-set and behaviour in the approaching year.

The forecast also predicts that smartphones will become de facto fingerprints as they evolve into wallets, keys, health consultants and more. It also puts a spotlight on health, with two separate trends examining the rising awareness around the impact of stress and happiness on well-being and how businesses are addressing it.

JWT‘s "10 Trends for 2013" is the result of quantitative, qualitative and desk research conducted throughout the year. It includes input from nearly 70 JWT planners across more than two dozen markets and interviews with experts and influencers across sectors including technology, health and wellness, retail, media and academia.

The following trends have been outlined by JWT

1. Play as a Competitive Advantage: Adults will increasingly adopt for themselves the revitalized idea that kids should have plenty of unstructured play to balance out today‘s plethora of organized and tech-based activities. In an age when people feel they can‘t spare time for pursuits that don‘t have specific goals attached, there will be a growing realization that unstructured time begets more imagination, creativity and innovation-all competitive advantages. (Example: Spacious, a recently formed organization in Washington, D.C., champions the idea of adult play and has sponsored events such as an "adult recess" that included pie-throwing and games of Twister.)

2. The Super Stress Era: While life has always been filled with stressors big and small, these are mounting and multiplying: We‘re entering the era of super stress. And as stress gets more widely recognized as both a serious medical concern and rising cost issue, governments, employers and brands alike will need to ramp up efforts to help prevent and reduce it. (Example: Recognizing that the drive to succeed for white-collar workers in Chinese megacities has led to intense pressure and long working hours, outdoor brand The North Face created a campaign advocating that people escape-if only for a weekend-to nature.)

3. Intelligent Objects: Everyday objects are evolving into tech-infused smart devices with augmented functionality. As more ordinary items become interactive, intelligent objects, our interactions with them will get more interesting, enjoyable and useful. (Example: Designed for skiers and snowboarders, Oakley‘s new Airwave goggles use GPS sensors, Bluetooth and a display so that skiers can see their speed, location, altitude and distance traveled, and can also read text messages or emails on the screen.)

4. Predictive Personalization: As data analysis becomes more cost efficient, the science gets more sophisticated and consumers generate more measurable data than ever, brands will increasingly be able to predict customer behavior, needs or wants-and tailor offers and communications very precisely. (Example: As a part of its "Know Me" program, British Airways relies on a database of passenger info it gathered from many sources over the course of several years to give highly personalized service to its VIP frequent flyers.)

5. The Mobile Fingerprint: Our smartphones are evolving to become wallets, keys, health consultants and more. Soon they‘ll become de facto fingerprints, our identity all in one place. (Example: A commercial from Indian telecom Idea Cellular reflects the notion that a mobile number can serve not only as an identifier but as an equalizer: A group of men having an argument approach the head of their town council, who declares that to end name-calling and fighting over caste status, people will be identified by their mobile number.)

6. Sensory Explosion: In a digital world, where more of life is virtual and online, we‘ll place a premium on sensory stimulation. Marketers will look for more ways to engage the senses-and as they amp up the stimuli, consumers will come to expect ever more potent products and experiences. (Example: Dunkin‘ Donuts installed a technology in buses around Seoul that released coffee aromas whenever the brand‘s jingle was played.)

7. Everything Is Retail: Shopping is shifting from an activity that takes place in physical stores or online to a value exchange that can play out in multiple new and novel ways. Since almost anything can be a retail channel, thanks largely to mobile technology, brands must get increasingly creative in where and how they sell their goods. (Example: During the 2012 holiday shopping period, Mattel and Walmart Canada created a "virtual pop-up toy store" in Toronto‘s underground walkway, featuring two walls of 3D toy images accompanied by QR codes; consumers could use their smartphones to scan the codes and pay, then the items would be delivered.)

8. Peer Power: As the peer-to-peer marketplace expands in size and scope-moving beyond goods to a wide range of services-it will increasingly upend major industries from hospitality and education to tourism and transportation. (Example: Peer-to-peer lodging companies, such as Airbnb, Wimdu and 9flats, are challenging traditional hotels by enabling consumers to host travelers in a wide variety of often unique and affordable accommodations, from couches to rooms to full homes.)

9. Going Public in Private: In an era when living publicly is becoming the default, people are coming up with creative ways to carve out private spaces in their lives. Rather than rejecting today‘s ubiquitous social media and sharing tools outright, we‘re reaping all the benefits of maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining and managing a new notion of privacy for the 21st century. (Example: Argentina‘s Norte Beer ensures that "What happens in the club stays in the club" with the Photoblocker beer cooler, distributed to local bars: When it detects the flash from a photo, the cooler emits a bright light, making potentially incriminating images unusable.)

10. Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand: Happiness is coming to be seen as a core component of health and wellness, with the rising notion that a happier person is a healthier person-and, in turn, a healthier person is a happier person. (Example: In Australia, Nestlé‘s "Happily Healthy Project" is a bid to educate consumers about the health-happiness link. The campaign‘s website lets users take a test to measure their HHQ, or Happily Healthy Quotient, which asks about lifestyle, behaviors and attitudes.)

JWT director of trendspotting Ann Mack said, "In our forecast of trends for the near future, new technology continues to take center stage, as we see major shifts tied to warp-speed developments in mobile, social and data technologies. Many of our trends reflect how businesses are driving, leveraging or counteracting technology‘s omnipresence in our lives, and how consumers are responding to its pull."

JWT Worldwide chairman and CEO Bob Jeffery said, "JWT recognizes the need to anticipate and actively participate in the changes that will fundamentally define the future of our business and our clients‘ businesses. Our annual trends forecast helps us to do just that. With our Worldmade outlook, we identify emerging global opportunities that we can leverage on behalf of our multinational roster of brands."

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