In an effort to identify the clearest consumer trends for 2017, I collaborated with one of my portfolio companies, Teckst, which manages text-based communication between consumers and large brands. I thought the data they can see through this communication mixed with my own more general research would yield interesting trends - and it did!
These are the five major takeaway consumer trends for 2017:
Single devices and phones take over: Tablets are becoming the new palm pilot. Although they still serve millions of customers, the phone sizes in today's market are so large they are becoming the single device consumers use for Internet. That means they aren't switching between a ton of devices, just using that one giant smartphone.
It's the opposite of the last few years where we had a trend towards a device and app for everything - consumers are streamlining.
Takeaway: Spend less time designing for mobile+tablet+desktop and more time just on mobile. Mobile first was a buzzword in 2016, but it's an essential in 2017.
Less social posting, more reading: Social is not dead. Those millions of followers that brands pay to engage with are still valuable. However, their individual engagement is down. A recent Fortune article points out that sharing is down 21%-a massive drop from the year before. Reading, however, went up by 65%.
Takeaway: Stop counting engagement like it matters. Likes and comments are relics of times past. Today, the important metric is views, plays, and conversations-two metrics from video, and one from 1:1 audience engagement on Messenger.
Messaging is bigger than social: Messaging is officially here. In 2015, the number of consumers messaging on a daily basis surpassed 3 billion. That number continues increasing every day, and messaging will have twice the audience size of social media by the end of 2018.
Takeaway: If you don't have a messaging strategy to talk human to human with customers, you are missing an opportunity to be ahead of the curve and create a lasting bond with customers.
Bots are dead: In April 2016 Facebook announced the ability to create bots for their
messenger platform. Less than one year and millions of terrible bot experiences and they are officially pulling back their push for humans to talk to computers.
Takeway: Bots can be helpful in the right context. However, this novelty proved to be more harmful than helpful. It hurt brand affinity, increased inbound tickets to customer service, and proved that brands can still fall for gimmicks.
Video takes the cake: Consumption of video continues to skyrocket. Viewing habits have
shifted from cable/TV to video clips on mobile devices. A new era of celebrities from streaming services are emerging, and brands are taking full advantage of these more affordable, more-authentic personalities.
Takeaway: If you don't have a creator studio to make entertaining clips, it's time to
invest in some lights and a good camera. Video, like messaging, is here to stay and it's up to brands to catch up to the consumer trend.