No doubt that 2019 is coming in hot. Impeachment talk. Climate change. The FIRE movement. “Big Little Lies Part Two.” Even the color of the year, Living Coral, a warm pink and orange hue, echoes a high-frequency energy that seems to electrify all of us even when we just want to hum holiday tunes and curl up with the Hallmark Channel this time of year — just don’t hum “Santa Baby.” While heat is uncomfortable, it is also a natural catalyst for change. Who’s ready?
Women’s enragement as the new women’s empowerment
If marketing to women could be boiled down to two words over the last year, they would be: female empowerment. This platform has been used to sell everything from deodorant to lipstick, makeup, sportswear, fashion, and even underwear. Brands big and small have created a unanimous choir around the motto that women can do anything – and p.s., their product can help support women on this journey. Yet after the #MeToo movement has ripped through our culture, there is a more important conversation taking place, one that criticizes institutions and cultural norms that have created bias against women and halted their opportunities. Frankly, women are pissed. Rebecca Traister’s recent book, “Good and Mad” and Soraya Chemaly’s “Rage Becomes Her” are two important works of nonfiction that examine how historically, anger has helped women create change. In the new year, we’ll see this narrative make its way into creative campaigns as brands start taking a stand against the ideas and institutions that constrain women, versus just marketing to them as “fearless.”
In a year when the largest social networks are being investigated for election interference, and word on the street is that the Silicon Valley elite do not allow technology into their own schools, it’s no surprise that tech is being viewed through a highly critical lens. While product reviews and competing for the highest “G” have dominated the tech conversation for decades, more important questions have arisen. How is my information being used? And how am I being tracked online and offline? New York Times technology reporter, the wise Farhad Manjoo, used his final article as a public warning: when it comes to technology, we should all proceed with caution. In the new year, consumers will start speaking with their wallets and subscriptions, choosing to spend time with platforms that align with their values. Independent platforms like Spotify will reign, and more tech giants will roll out products like Apple’s Screen Time to police their own technology before others do.
Exit to the exurbs
Blame the rising costs of urban living, continued flexibility in working remote policies, and a generation of consumers that want a feeling of decompression during these intense times. The idea of moving to suburbia will be replaced with the idea of moving to “exurbia,” that is towns more than 50 miles from a city center. As consumers say goodbye to picket fences and daily commutes in favor of farm houses and room to think, we’ll see the emergence of new creative centers, artistic collectives, and a slower pace of living that will value keeping up with your book club more than “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Think Stars Hollow instead of “Pleasantville.”
While I am personally bored of neon signage, exposed brick, and slabs of white marble, consumers are not yet fatigued by this “Instagramy essence,” and more formal institutions are catching on to how it can attract consumers. While one-third of millennials are not affiliated with a religion, churches like Free Church in Chicago are recruiting patrons by rebranding the worship experience with taco trucks instead of potlucks and photo booths instead of confessionals. Meanwhile, We Grow, We Work’s foray into education has launched an Instagram-worthy nursery school, the perfect canvas for sharing spawn content. In the year ahead, consumers will move from “eating for the Insta” to “praying for the Insta,” and “learning for the Insta” as more formal institutions try to dust off their image for a generation of consumers that are bored with the status quo and looking to feed their feeds.
This year we saw Amazon launch the most fashionable winter coat among socialites, banks open coffee shops, and Toms shoes take on gun control. In 2019, brands will be spreading their wings wider than ever in an attempt to reinvent and redefine their businesses and purpose. After all, if a bank with a coffee shop and free Wi-Fi can go from transactional to trendy and a chic coat from Amazon can help morph the online retailer into a fashion icon, the sky’s the limit. It doesn’t hurt that these bold moves force consumers and media to take notice. What’s next? Baked goods and match-making from your school loan provider? Well, that’s already in the works. Thanks, SoFi.
We’ve heard of conscious consumerism: that is considering the social, ecological, and economic impact of what we buy before we buy it. In 2019, expect to see conscious creativity enter our business. That means agencies and teams will consider these factors when we are making decisions about the clients we work with, the type of ideas that we get behind, and the campaigns that we create. As Gen Z enters the work force with a more inherently global and inclusive perspective, they will filter work with more critical eyes, and we will all benefit. Because as the saying goes, if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. Something to think about in January as you’re battling all of those 2019 RFPs.