7 Emerging Macro Trends, and my 2016 predictions

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 1.41.28 PMI’m sure by now  your 2016 plans are set and in process, and you’ve heard and read a lot about what’s new and what you should be thinking about in 2016.  I always keep an eye on macro and micro trends in my continuous focus on the New World Marketplace–so here’s my list of 7 important trends for you to understand and explore regardless of where you are in your planning process.  These trends are not going anywhere.

1.  Emerging Technologies – Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learnings

These are advancing at a very rapid pace, and stem in part from the Great Recession forcing many businesses to operate with fewer workers. Naturally they replace human employment. Some experts believe jobs will be replaced in these fields, some believe jobs will be lost regardless. Certainly they are designed to improve speed, quality and cost. And I believe we will have little to no effect long term as our digital natives will occupy majority of work force soon. But I think we will have some employment challenges short-term and need to think of alternatives. For more on these alternative plans , click here.

I have to add that some countries like Japan will be leading some of these robotic initiatives not because they’ve been forced to cut labor, but because they have to, given their demographic challenges and population decline projections in the years to come. That’s the angel you don’t hear or read about much.

2.  Personalization will be a key differentiator in sales and marketing in 2016

That means better usage of data targeting to determine and forecast personalized needs, such as cognitive technologies presenting the perfect deal or helpful content at the right moment based on personality, needs, values and emotions. Marketers will need to extract real-time information to enhance forecasting and decision-making across the value chain. I get ad pop-ups all the time based on what I have purchased, needs, patterns, etc. Even when I just view a product and exit their site, I get content for that product following me around. Naturally, customer expectations are steadily increasing. The cookie-cutter approach and old-school ad spaming will get punched in the face. The culture of innovation also will shift towards personalization. And believe it or not, personalized phone calls will replace mass e-mails and non-stop offers to buy something.

3.  Sharing economy will soon be a force to be reckoned with

I’m sure you or one of your friends have grabbed a ride from Uber. Maybe stayed at an Airbnb or rented a dress from Rent the Runway. Or buy something from Etsy? More and more companies are reaching sky rocketing revenues with sharing economy and you can expect to see it grow in 2016 and beyond. It’s about delivering your products and services to the right customer and at the right time—and more importantly, at the right price. It’s about ratings, reviews and community building.  Think through how you can tap into this.

4.  Gen Y focus and millennial mania will start shifting to GenZ and their multiculturalism and gender parity

I don’t say this because I have been the evangelist for women, youth and multiculturalism for the last 6 years. Gen Y and Gen Z, already half of the US population, have largest share of earners, will be the majority of work force and are very multicultural, color blind and gender neutral. Clearly they have profoundly different beliefs, values, lifestyle and media habits. But Gen Z is about to graduate college, have independence, careers and disposable income (several reports site $44 billion in purchasing power). We will see Millennial Mania turning into Gen Z craze in 2016 and beyond.

Let’s start by looking at who they are. Keep in mind there are no precise dates when these generations start and end; reports vary by sources and experts. So don’t be surprised if you find different numbers in different reports (for example, recent Goldman Sachs report defines Millennials as 15-35, but census and pew have them start at 18….but reports mainly vary depending on what the report is selling.)  I’ve looked at several reports (Census, Pew, Wikipedia, Goldman Sachs, Forbes) and reporting my best estimates based on these age cohorts, using 2015 US population of 322 million…and as each year passes, the ages change, and numbers will shift from oldest to youngest.

Gen Z, under 18, 73 million (22% of population)

Gen Y, 18-35, 89 million (28% of population)

Gen X, 36-51 – 60 million (19% of population)

Baby Boomers, 52-70, 77 million (24% of population)

Silent & Greatest generation, 71+, 23 million (7%)

Retailers that spend resources to understand generational preferences and motivations will win in 2016 and beyond. For more on Gen Z and their differences with Gen Y, click here to read my article devoted to this topic.

5.  Digital Media is the new “BIG MEDIA”

TV networks, after decades of pain, will soon feel newspaper’s pain. With too many channels, too many mediocre shows, they have to compete with digital subscriptions on a rise—like Netflix, now more than almost every other network, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hulu, etc. Video, music, and digital “print” subscriptions are also climbing fast. Why? Convenience. We can watch and listen to what we want, when we want.

Interestingly, based on everything I read and observe, the next big platforms will not be smart glasses, smart cars or virtual reality. At least not in 2016. Future is also moving beyond smartphones. Expect to see huge spikes in messaging apps and social networking. (for more details on media numbers, click here)

Also, keep in mind that Gen Y and Gen Z currently representing over half of the US population (51%) are the first digital-native generations. And we already know the role of digital technology today and their increase in coming years. Bottom line: Digital media consumption is growing, everything else is shrinking. BI Intelligence reported that 18-24 TV viewing is down ~30% in 4 years, while mobile nearly doubled. And digital media has increased from 3% in 2000 to 40% in 2015…and forecasted to occupy 80%+ of media consumption by 2030. Who is leading this? Our digital-natives Gen Y and Gen Z.

Leading marketers will increasingly incorporate data collected from other channels into their social media efforts. They will collect behavioral data with every click, download, page visit, video watched and shopping cart purchase. Expect to see leading companies doubling down on creating branded social channels, providing relevant content and engaging with followers.

6.  Expect to see a decline in the Hispanic Ad Industry and continued obsession with US born Hispanic millennials, and a shift of focus on Gen Z Latinos in 2016.

We’ve already seen an intense focus on the US born, bicultural, fully acculturated millennial “darling” of the Hispanic market. And therefore, we will see a continued decline of the Hispanic Ad Industry and a shift toward mainstream “total” market. This is partially due to the immigration trends on a decline. And of course, Hispanic millennials make up nearly half (44%) of the record 27.3 million Hispanic eligible voters (Pew)—a share greater than any other racial or ethnic group. And it is the election year afterall. Nonethelsess, this total-market millennial mania is leaving immigrants out, and ignoring foreign-born millennials (~40%). Good news is unacculturated Hispanics are much less isolated from the “mainstream” acculturated ones, thanks to their digital behavior. So we will see the power of networks Univision and Telemundo declining. Mobile, streaming online content and digital media will bridge these cultural gaps in media consumption. And Gen Z Latino’s are the true digital-natives.

7.  Asians and South Asians increasing power and focus

Four years ago when I published my book, I brought your attention to the fastest growing ethnic group with unsurpassed education and affluence–Asians and South Asians.  Since then, I’ve written several articles on this demographic and now I’m starting to see new specialized agencies growing and media focus increasing, specially since their electorate segment is gaining power and they are considered potential game changers for 2016 Presidential election. (Of course, so are Latinos and other non-white multicultural population and electorate) We have been seeing a lot of focus on the Hispanic growth, but in 2016 and beyond, expect to see more focus on Asians in general, and South Asians in specific.  To learn more about this fastest growing demographics and how to reach them, click here.

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