4 Predictions for 2018
Starting a new year, it’s always a challenge to decide on whether you’ll see the glass as half-full or half-empty. This year, I choose to start half-full. My predictions start with my final word about Donald Trump for the rest of his presidency. The political (and cultural) realms are always critical to understanding of consumer values, attitudes and behavior, but enough is enough. Which leads me to prediction number one:
- Trump Burn Out.
We have to get over him. Like him or not, he sucks way too much oxygen out of the room. Yes, he could start a nuclear war any day now over button envy, but the goal, and my resolution for the year, is to be informed but not obsessed. He should be ignored 90% of the time. If only the media had done this during the long Republican primary season.
We might not return to “normal” for quite a while, but there’s only so much people can take. Crazy tweet storms with existential implications have caused our baseline of collective stress off the charts. We’ll move on to the next reality show to maintain our sanity.
- Consumers Will Seek Comfort and Safety.
Meanwhile, since we’re all riled up, comfort will emerge as a major theme of 2018. We toss around this cliché all the time, but if there were a time to heed it, it would be now. Brands need to understand our pain points and address them in powerful, relevant emotional terms. Not in the traditional packaged goods sense.
The fact that “Raisinets have 30% less fat than the leading chocolate brands, and a half-serving of fruit in every ¼ cup serving” doesn’t really help me. But a blissful escape into a bowl of rich, indulgent Haagen Dazs ice cream? Now you’re pain relief!
- The Familiar Will Be Our Friend in the Coming Year.
New brands will have to adhere to the MAYA rule (most advanced yet acceptable) more than ever, touting innovation in the context of something familiar.
Older brands need to say “comfort” without evoking nostalgia. We don’t need to return to a fictional past when everything seemed better, but wasn’t. We need to move into the future in the company of old, trusted friends.
The new IHOP TV spot is an excellent example. Funny and unexpected, yet clearly communicating the comfort of pancakes and a trusted brand name.
- Brands Will Matter More
These social forces may point to less divisiveness, there will still be teams. What team will your brand be on? A brand like CNN may be hated by a certain sliver of the population. But while Sheriff Clark and President Trump are tweeting images promoting violence against the network, CNN is running a brilliant campaign that takes the high road, focused on honesty and transparency in an elegantly simple fashion. As always, brands telling simple truths will flourish, but given what we’ve been through, it seems like they’ll flourish even more in the year to come.