By Chirag Kulkarni
As technology and digital marketing tools continue to improve, businesses will have to adapt to trends in marketing and consumer behavior.
Businesses that are attentive to the trends and changes of 2017 will be able to quickly implement new tools and strategies for greater success and improved customer interaction.
Here are 15 trends and changes in products, marketing, and leadership t o keep an eye on in the new year.
1. The Internet of Things
In 2016, we found our smart devices to be more efficient and capable than ever. Products like Nest allow us to change the environment in our home remotely through other smart devices.
In 2017, we’ll continue to see advancements in sensors, software and technology that will allow our devices to be interconnected and speak to one another.
Related: The Biggest News Stories That Got Us Talking In 2016
2. Green products
Consumers care about corporations that are socially responsible and sustainable. The younger generation is increasingly likely to buy into companies who follow a TOMS give-back model or feature environmentally friendly products and packaging.
Companies are aware that millennials are giving priority to those who are socially-conscious and are adapting their products and values accordingly.
3. Companies that connect
Rather than directly selling a product, we’ve seen a rise in companies looking to connect consumers with a service. Air bnb , Uber, and Trunk Club allow millennials to lead an asset-light life.
The connections these companies provide help build a sense of community while consumers feel they’re getting a service they need.
4. Personalized products
Companies are going out of their way to touch each consumer and make products tailored to the individual . Consumers want a sense of independence and will buy from companies who value their individuality.
We see examples of this trend in everything from Nike’s Customizable Sneakers to Tesla allowing consumers to completely build and personalize every detail of their new automobile from scratch.
Related: Here’s What Your Breakfast Might Look Like in 2017
5. Virtual and augmented reality
In 2016, v irtual r eality became available to consumers through products like the Oculus and Google Daydream Viewer Headset. In 2017, we’ll continue to see advancements in VR and businesses will benefit in areas such as training, education, and productivity.
Augmented r eality is built on top of VR, with the most recent example being the Microsoft HoloLens which allows for 3D Holograms.
6. Drone technology
Drones have become the must-have toy for hobbyists throughout the world. Businesses are starting to leverage the technology for enhanced customer experiences.
One example worth noting is VILLAWAY, a company initiating drone property tours of vacation homes in 2017. The use of drone technology for enhanced consumer education is something we will continue to see in the future.
7. Creating a personal brand
New and emerging digital platforms allow businesses and individuals to distinguish themselves from competitors by building a personal brand.
This personal brand is how a business will gain individuality when marketing themselves to an audience. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube allow audiences to feel connected to businesses while learning about the brand values and vision.
8. Artificial intelligence
In 2017, we’ll see the rise of machines that can learn and complete tasks that would normally require human intelligence.
We’ve already caught a glimpse of machines that can problem-solve on their own, like self-driving cars. In the next year, we’ll be exposed to more machines that can adapt and learn skills only we as humans have possessed thus far. Y ou can already even request a fully autonomous Uber.
9. Remote employees
As the digital space allows employees to complete work assignments from just about anywhere, more employees are seeking a flexible schedule and the comfort of working from home.
Remote employees allow an employer to have access to talent all over the world. Communication tools such as Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and Skype allow employers to have face-to-face meetings with employees who are not physically present.
The ease and convenience of online shopping is something consumers value, especially with perks like free same-day shipping from Amazon Prime.
Social media marketing and Google Adwords make it easy for e-commerce companies to reach their target audience and ensure their ads are being seen by the eyes that matter most.
11. Fitness wearables
Consumers are gravitating toward fitness wearables as new technology allows us to track what we eat, how far we walk, and what kinds of exercises we do throughout the day. Fitbit and the Nike Running App provide a competitive and gamified way for consumers to stay active and healthy. We’ll likely see the release of wearables with even more intuitive software in 2017.
12. Big Data and analytics
We’ve seen a struggle this last year with businesses gathering misleading data. In 2017, we’ll continue to see even more accurate measurements and customer data.
With Facebook continually upgrading and improving analytics, companies will be able to gather even more information about consumers to inform marketing decisions.
13. Video content
We’ll see even more brands begin to utilize video content as VR and a ugmented r eality becom e more mainstream.
With the ability to share video content easily on social media through platforms like Snapchat or Facebook Live, brands are looking for new, innovative ways to capture an audience’s attention through video.
14. Social media marketing
Social media has become a crucial addition to every brand’s marketing strategy. Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook will continue to improve ads and analytics, making it easier for brands to reach their target consumers.
Social media will continue to be an important way for brands to maintain relationships and build a community of loyal customers.
We’ll continue to see intelligent chatbots like Siri and Alexa who can perform simple tasks and pull information.
As the software improves, we’ll see artificial intelligence and human characteristics used to improve the quality of information provided. We may also see chatbots that are able to learn a user’s preferences and utilize those preferences when providing information.
Machines will keep getting smarter and new technology will increase productivity among businesses. Remote workers and virtual tours will allow businesses to connect with consumers and employees all over the world.
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