Six communications trends brands need to know in 2018

6 communications trends brands need to know in 2018

I recently joined the PRCA for a morning of insight and debate as we glimpsed into the defining communications trends of 2018. Joining the host of speakers and panellists was MSL’s Head of Planning & Insight, Dominic Payling, who shared his experience of listening as a powerful tool in understanding consumer behaviour. Here are a few key takeaways that stood out to me as things brands should be considering in 2018 and beyond:


1. Citizens of the World: As the world grows increasingly borderless, the traditionally linear definitions of self-identity have become blurred; nationality, gender, age or family structure. Whilst many companies have found success in championing one strata of society or psychographic persona, brands will soon need to throw out the rulebook and re-imagine their target audiences.

2. Brand Ethics: Nowadays organisations must demonstrate civic responsibility towards employees, the environment and their communities. More than ever consumers are holding a microscope up to their favourite brands and it’s up to communications professionals to ensure that they find authenticity and integrity behind their carefully curated surfaces.

3. Listen Up: We should look beyond observing what people do and tune in to the why.  Whilst we have an endless conveyor belt of data at our finger-tips, it can pay to take a step back and listen to consumers first-hand - whether that’s via a focus group or calling your mum. This can unveil invaluable insight into peoples’ motives and remove presumptive oversight.

4. Be Resourceful: Whilst smaller projects may not have the budget to conduct large-scale consumer research, much can be found from humbly scratching beneath the surface. With a dose of imagination, energy and carefully orchestrated methodology, the most basic tools (such as Google, review forums and voxpops) can prove fruitful in harvesting insight.

5. Shapeshifting Influencers: We tend to talk about influencers in the context of social media and as something unique to today. However, influencers have always existed in various forms: mainstream media, politicians, celebrities etc. Social media is still relatively young, just as newspapers migrated online and TV has reinvented its advertising streams we shouldn’t be surprised by the inevitable evolution of social and influencers too.  

6. Gen Z vs Millennials: Often treated as the younger clones of their older Millennial siblings, Gen Z are demonstrating attitudes that have left marketing campaigns floundering. For example, the new iPhone X campaign may have lured in Millennials but sales of original Nokia handsets are booming for Gen Z. For a generation overstimulated with technology since birth, the latest gadget holds far less novelty. Equally, as they enter a more nomadic housing market, materialism is becoming overshadowed by experiences. Brands should prepare for a renaissance of the frivolously childish and a romanticism of the pre-technology era.

Overall, it’s clear that 2018 will make us question our norms and everyday practices. To make the most of the year ahead, it’ll be vital to stay open-minded, unlearn, then re-learn again



Claire Hutchings

Head of Marketing

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