Article: Spring trend watch – look outside your industry for fresh insights

Author: Sarah Reakes
Publication: KISS News
Date: Sarah Reakes

When Facebook launched in 2004 your profile page offered two options under ‘gender’ – now there are about 60 ‘custom’ choices.  In the traditionally conservative insurance business, Lemonade is winning by really challenging long-held assumptions. As marketers, we need to regularly re-test all those basic market assumptions found at the bottom of our spreadsheets.


At KISS we aim to help brands and businesses keep it successfully simple and stay healthy in the face of fast-moving competitors and a fast-changing world. This means our work on brand strategy includes a look at trends – macro and micro – that we think could be important: because whatever your business, your buyers are influenced by them because they’re consumers and family members too. This work has shown us time and again that the real insights are found by looking outside your sector, and the gold – shorter term monetisation – will come where trends collide and overlap.


So here are just a few of our thoughts around trends: if you’d like to hear more, call us now.


Can anyone be trusted? 

Trust in institutions, the media, politicians and the big online players (from Facebook to Tripadvisor) is falling to new lows. But as a reaction to it we see a growth in independent and ‘slow’ news, and businesses built on this like Masse’s friends-only review community.  


Everyone wants to own a house, don’t they?

Many millennials and Gen-Zers (among others) are not just tolerating but embracing a state of ‘permanent impermanence’: not only working from laptops in cafes but living in co-owned communities, tiny houses or even moving campervans, and of course running differently-structured businesses based on crowdfunding and global online communities. More and more of us are moving away from traditional ideas on long-term employment, office-based work and housing. Importantly the assumptions that ever-more growth is good and necessary for prosperity are also challenged by heavyweight commentators like the UK’s Professor Tim Jackson.  


Habits of a lifetime?

‘Flexitarian’ is the new normal – 56% of Brits no longer view meat as an essential meal ingredient, not only because 18% of all greenhouse gases are produced by livestock. Over 3.5million Brits are now vegan, up by 600% since 2016. Big brand groups like Unilever are investing hugely in more meat and dairy alternatives and McDonalds have jumped on the bandwagon with the trial of their vegan nuggets. In Norway. Meanwhile Philip Morris went public recently with research into phasing out traditional cigarettes entirely.     


We don’t talk about…

From periods and menopause to toxic masculinity and trans rights, topics many of us may have traditionally avoided or spoken about in hushed tones are being discussed in the mainstream and normalised. Led by companies like Elvie ‘Fem tech’ – from silent wearable breast pumps to pelvic-floor exercisers and apps to track ovulation and menopause – is tipped to be a $50 billion market by 2025. Expect a lot more in these spaces.



The world puts a rubbish-truck of plastic in the ocean every minute, and a Trash Island the size of France has formed on the Pacific. The UK Statistical society’s Fact of the Year, that over 90% of the world’s plastic production has not been recycled, will (we hope) be part of driving change. Things like Ladbible’s campaign for Trash Island to be declared a country (electing Al Gore as First Citizen and Judi Dench as Queen) and apps like Almond seem to show that more buyers are aware of our rising impact on the planet, taking the time to check not just recycling facts but many aspects of a product’s provenance, from sustainable sourcing to fairer working conditions. Trends like using packaging alternatives and banning single-use plastic (bags, straws, and microbeads so far) have emerged quite quickly and this will no doubt have a long term impact on many brands. 


Planet-saving green tech is being led by Europe, isn’t it?

China alone will contribute 40% of the world’s total clean energy mix by 2022 and is the global leader in hydro power, bioenergy and electric vehicles. China and India are two of the top three clean-energy generators. China is also on track to exceed their 2022 wind power target and have already spent £100 billion on reforestation.


Brands are changing

Bodyform’s #bloodnormal campaign was a strong start to normalising discussions on periods. Nike endorsing the first NFL player who knelt during the National anthem, Coke’s anti-homophobia Fanta campaign in Brazil and Rowse putting gay ‘bears’ in honey ads: externally these brands saw changes in attitudes out there, rode the wave and won as a result with higher brand awareness, overwhelmingly positive social media and PR engagement. To do this they first had to stop and test long-held brand and business assumptions; ‘we never put red liquid in ads about periods’; ‘we can’t talk about politics/gun control/homophobia’; ‘we never talk about the end of cigarettes.’ Brand-owners are researching the markets more and probably having strong and healthy internal debates.


These are consumer examples but again, if you’re in B2B your buyers are consumers too – attitudes and expectations of their suppliers will change, and in any case stepping up to look at trends outside your category is vital and stimulating for your marketing strategy. There is gold to be found by causing new kinds of conversation, so see your wave and ride it early. 


Give us a call If you’d like us to help you step up and out of your sector and refresh your brand strategy.

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