I recently read about a man who went to a monastery in the early 2000s. He stayed in the retreat for nearly 10 years, before returning to civilisation. Can you imagine what that was like? The world prior to 2007 didn’t have iPhones. Touch screen products were still in their infant stages of development. There was no Facetime, unless you had one of those egg-shaped webcams that never worked. There wasn’t even any Facebook until 2004; when Myspace, Bebo and other primitive social networks were fighting over a market no one had worked out how to turn profit from.
The teenage years of the 21st Century have been marked by an increase in fatalism and pessimism about our future. But maybe, like most teenage years, these are just growing pains. I’d like to think the world is going to get into its stride in the 20s.
So here are some exciting things to watch out for. Things that will change industries, the world, and in particular the kind of adverts we’ll be making.
Electric cars have been around much longer than people think. The first dates back to the 1820s and the first modern success was in the 1970s. Both times, interest in electric cars fizzled out. Why should it be any different this time?
The last decade saw the cost of electric batteries drop by almost 50% in four years, and it continues to do so. This, coupled with a rising emissions conscience and changing national laws could finally shift the electric market.
Tesla of course is the big one to watch, because unlike other brands all its eggs are in the electric basket. But leading car brands are moving some focus towards electric advertising — like Volkswagen, who just ran a series of ‘Volts’wagen statics for the New Year. If Tesla is to be the motor industry’s Apple of the 2020 decade, what’ll be more interesting is finding out who their Microsoft will be.
Could this be the decade where we look up and see drones everywhere? From summer 2020 new regulations will come in across Europe, categorising drones into different classes, and allowing certain classes to fly over populated areas — as long as they meet requirements.
Amazon has already completed tests and started building infrastructure in the UK and the US. The first successful drone delivery happened in Cambridge in 2016 — so it’s not as far-fetched as some would think. Listen out for Amazon Prime Air, which Amazon has said will be able to fulfil deliveries within 30 minutes in urban areas.
And fast delivery is just one way drones could transform the 20s. They could also be used for farming, mapping, capturing data or quite possibly, hovering advertisements over the M1.
The banking sector shakeup that started towards the end of the 2010s is going to get whole lot more shook up. Fintech brands have successfully captured millennials, spreading in the same patterns as early social media did. Monzo has gone from 50,000 members in 2016 to reaching 1 million in 2018 and further doubling that to hit 2 million last year. High street banks have been closing down branches and cutting jobs to keep up with rising costs. But branchless Monzo shows no signs of slowing. And it’s not alone; brands like Revolute, N26 and Starling Bank are on the surge.
Will Highstreet banks change tact to push back the challenger banks, or will they sit it out, hoping Monzo is just a fad? I’d recommend changing tact. The Monzo generation (also the austerity generation) want functionality and control over their finances, they are not the same crowd as the American Express Generation, who want free stuff and built up reserves of collected points.
Of course, if the world does shift more towards the app-based banks, there will be a lot of data on our spending habits. And that could be another revolution in how brands target consumers — another Facebook moment, perhaps.
Will the 2020s see the rise of meat free brands? It started with Quorn in the 80s; but now, with meat consumption falling, exciting new alternatives coming to market, and environmental factors weighing in on foodie decisions, it looks like there could be quite the unmeaty revolution.
One of the reasons why we might end up eating less meat, might just be because there’s less of it around. If climate scientists’ predictions are right, and some crop yields fail within the next 10 years, that will have a knock-on effect on the price of meat. That rare steak you like to have on Saturdays could be about to get rarer.
Soy bean protein brands like THIS are worth paying attention to. But also keep an eye out for lab grown meat. They won’t call it that, they’ll probably call it culture meat, or new wave meat, something that doesn’t make it sound like it was concocted in a lab — which it was.
Aside from the already converted plant-based consumers, surveys suggest there’s still a big gap in appetite for meatless meats. It’s a classic awareness/perception issue, something advertisers are very good at solving.
Cloud computing has been steadily growing throughout the 2000s and the 2010s, but internet speeds and software innovations might just usher in a new working-from-home era.
Cloud computing, for those who don’t know, means connecting to a super powerful server over the internet, and running software remotely. This basically means no longer buying expensive hardware, instead, renting a server somewhere and logging in — feeding into the rising subscription trend.
For some industries this could mean less time spent travelling into work and more time working from home — in your pyjamas. It comes during a perfect storm. We’ve just seen 10 years of huge advances made in connectivity (conference call and week-planning apps). And we’ve just seen 10 years of rising rents and business rates, bringing about a need to scale down office space and cut costs. Plus, I think we could all benefit from a well needed ease-off commuting pressures, especially in the big cities.
I don’t think the UK will be following Finland in a hurry to sign off on a four-day week. But I do think the home work balance will shift over the next ten years to something a bit more flexible. And if that happens, it means more leisure time, and a bigger focus on “brands that want to have fun.”
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