Even though we cannot influence every development, brands can play a crucial role in changing consumer behavior and encouraging responsible consumption. Current consumption patterns will be fundamentally challenged with conscious consumers being on the rise, like millennials. Their wishes and needs are centered around sustainability and conscious consumption more and more. Companies will be forced to grow with them. These trends highlight issues and opportunities for brands to watch!

1) Guiding the way in complex times

Trump. Brexit. Duterte. Le Pen. The attempted coup in Turkey. Geopolitical, economic and social instability will shape global business and consumer behavior in profound ways. How to actually respond to this trend in 2017? We see an opportunity for purposeful brands in helping people to find their way in the changing relationships and environment they live in.  While some consumers are looking for traditions and opportunities to go back to the familiar, others are seeking the open and interconnected world. This creates space for campaigns that build bridges between people and cultures.

In June 2016 a video was posted by travel site Momondo under the label ‘The DNA Journey’. In the video volunteers with different backgrounds were asked to talk about their feelings of national pride and even about issues with those from other countries. This is just before they’re being shown the results of a DNA test that proves they are a melting pot of genes from many different parts of the world. The message of Momondo concludes: “You have more in common with the world than you think”. The video received over 12 million views on YouTube in under 6 months.

2) Unlocking new sources of value

We believe that in 2017 strong brands will broaden their thinking around sustainability and turn their attention to smart solutions. Think about how the sharing economy changed the way of thinking about waste and ownership. More and more consumers are using cars by the minute and office spaces by the hour. This opens doors for new innovations, that are sustainable and that unlock new sources of value.

Consumers in emerging markets will be especially enthusiastic about innovations that enable them to get more for less. The city of Cape Town municipal authority upgraded its waste service for example, to make it more user-friendly for individuals, institutions and businesses in the city. The government developed an online portal allowing companies and the public to connect and recycle waste items (such as furniture, tires, computers and packaging) and to add images and details to their listing, and post ads for waste products. This brought new incentives to the table for individuals and companies to enjoy the whole recycling service.

The second example concerns food delivery services, like UberEats and Deliveroo. These on-demand delivery services are everywhere now. In São Paulo the food bank Banco de Alimentos launched a programme called: Reverse Delivery to harness the power of the thousands of delivery drivers that return empty-handed after dropping off food. Participating restaurants ask the customer if they want to donate any food. The drivers then collect the items from the customer when they deliver the meal and take it back to the restaurant, where Banco de Alimentos picks it up and distributes it to those in need. Watch the video here!

3) Caring brands

We see an uprise of meaningful activities by the larger and even more traditional brands. Especially by service brands that previously didn’t really run those extra miles for their customers and by financial service providers who seem to have lost sight of their social purpose in the past years. Today we see a rise of brands that seem to really care about their customers: acknowledged for example to really feel sorry about the delate delivery of a children’s rocking horse. They made it up by sending their customer a valuable little present: two stuffed animals for their newborn twins. This way, there’s enough room for forgiveness. The particular clients even uploaded their photo to Facebook, to thank

Also, SNS is making sure that customers won’t have to pay interest in case of overdraft, the first three days. This is happening to all of us sometimes, because of delayed salary payment or bills that need to be paid a day earlier. Even though this will cost the bank, they are offering a valuable service to their clients.

We’re heading changing times in which brands can take a stand to guide the way towards a sustainable future. Offering renewing solutions to today’s problems, while being aware of these trends is the way to go for the coming year. In need of the right tools or the right people to help you start 2017 with full-focus? We’d like to hear from you