This is an interesting time of year, one where we look back in 2017 and think about the context for what it means leading into 2018 through a consumer and brand aperture.

There is a lot to digest. 2017 was filled with groundbreaking milestones:

  • AR is uncovering untapped potential while VR is struggling to find a market.
  • Did you know an AI created its own AI?!
  • Voice is quickly becoming a new way we interact with the world around us.

And so much more, it’s impossible to capture – Google’s Year in Review Video is an emotional retrospective on 2017. You should watch if you haven’t already.

At Padilla, we pride ourselves in not just keeping current with what has happened and is unfolding, but also layering in a contextual understanding to help anchor us in this world of “trends.” Strategically, we call this Cultural Context, and it’s imperative for us and our clients as it relates to business needs and objectives in more targeted and salient ways.

Here are three things that are standing out to us within this Cultural Context framework as we look back and look ahead.

Empathy: 2017 was a very divisive year when it came to thinking about empathy in general, and individuals specifically.

  • Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, credited with turning around the company culturally, says he owes it all to empathy.
  • One of our partners, Trend Hunter, highlighted examples of how Experiential Empathy is being applied among brands.
  • AdAge wrote a piece on a brand’s guide to empathy.
  • While not technically empathy, it is telling that we are seeing a trend of wholesome memes.

What this means for brands: No one will ever say empathy is not important, but in today’s cultural climate, it translates into an active listening and real understanding of consumers’ experiences to better understand their perspectives.

Meditative Moments: The practice of “slow” in a category was really defined decades ago in food. We are seeing this idea of slowing down, being thoughtful and specific to one task take shape in other interesting ways.

  • IKEA recently released ads that as one of our partners, PSFK, describes it: “bore their way into consumers’ lives.”
  • There is an app that requires users to wait three days for pictures to ‘develop.’
  • We’re seeing more and more opinions of slow content in this world of digitalization and multitasking.

What this means for brands: With the goal of keeping life simple, people are turning to slow-down behaviors. This is coming from an ever-growing need for simplicity, so a brand’s job is to curate and make choices less overwhelming for consumers.

Trust: If there was one value (with a capital “V”) consumers really struggled with in 2017, it was trust. It’s going to impact their relationship to and with brands in 2018 and beyond.

  • Forrester recently came out with a report on the “Crisis of Trust” predicting that 2018 will be a “year of reckoning” for brands.
  • Some brand messages used more transparent and authentic messages to embrace their imperfection thus removing the perfect brand sheen that is inherently untrustworthy.
  • While this started in 2015, Everlane’s Pick Your Price initiative – which is rooted in transparency and choice – shows no signs of slowing down.

What this means for brands: Trust is built through actions not words. It’s critical for brands to realize their main asset is to be human. This humanism brings a voice, transparency and authenticity that will help align (at times realign) to your consumer value proposition.

Trust is built through actions not words. It’s critical for brands to realize their main asset is to be human. Click To Tweet

We have a lot more thinking around this and would welcome a deeper conversation if you want to talk more. Let us know! 

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