Trends in Two Minutes is a monthly bulletin of trends hitting businesses across Asia-Pacific with a focus on marketing and communications. 
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The New Retail Space Is Physical and Digital

While often viewed as sectors in competition, retail brands are rapidly discovering the greater value of delivering a brand experience that spans both digital and physical worlds. 

Over the past eighteen months, there have been multiple major developments for digital brands expanding into the physical space. The two biggest online retailers in the world have both either purchased major existing brick-and-mortar brands or opened their own physical locations in the past year. And, neither are abandoning the digital space. 

It’s been referred to by one business leader as ‘New Retail’. It’s an approach that allows brands to leverage the best of both the digital and physical to deliver an optimum customer experience that drives maximum profits. For example, impulse purchases are significantly more popular in physical spaces (where 90% of consumers buy on impulse) compared to digital (48%). 

The takeaway for communications professionals is that there is substantial potential for increased value in creating experiences for consumers to interact with a brand in a tangible way. These do not have to be permanent retail fixtures – pop-up stores, ambassadors and events are all short-term possibilities. (Previously, one Weber Shandwick client toured India with a chai cart.) 

Toward Tokyo 2020: The Smart Stadium

With sporting events of global significance continuing to unfold throughout Asia, new technologies are creating new opportunities for brands of all sectors to connect with large, diverse audiences.

Described in 2017 as some of ‘the most advanced smartphone environments on earth’, modern stadiums and sports venues provide a multitude of new access points for consumers. These include venue-specific apps, alternate camera views or soundtracks for events (including for remote/mobile audiences), exclusive communications with teams and athletes, and ecommerce pathways for merchandise, food and drink.

The ‘Smart Stadium’, however, is just the most obvious example of a larger trend of innovation within the field of sports-tech. By 2021, it’s estimated that the field of sporting analytics alone (encompassing both athlete performance and audience engagement, among other areas) will be worth approximately US$4.7 billion worldwide.   
With Tokyo’s 2020 hosting of the Summer Olympics approaching (and Beijing’s Winter Olympics following in 2022), brands from all manner of sectors have more opportunities to communicate with a wider array of audiences than ever before – provided they can deliver a strategy to take advantage of the complex new environments being presented by innovations like the ‘Smart Stadium’.  

Not Your Average Millennial – The Gen Z Difference

As the world continues to adapt to millennial-driven marketplaces, the younger Generation Z is quickly growing in influence. Current estimates suggesting they’ll represent 40% of all consumers by 2020

Loosely identified as those born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, Generation Z consumers currently make up 26% of the population and have a global spending power of roughly US$44 billion. While often lumped in with millennials and sharing some priorities (e.g. both highly value social activism), they’re nevertheless a very different demographic and necessitate different communication strategies.

Compared to their wordier, communal and collaborative millennial forebears, Generation Zers are hugely visual, self-expressive, individual and assertive. On average, a Generation Z consumer watches 68 videos a day. 25% generate video content on a weekly basis. They prioritise control – they prefer digital content that’s deleted quickly, ownership over ridesharing or similar services and working individually as opposed to in teams.

When engaging with Generation Z, communicators and brands are recommended to prioritise strategies with a high visual component that invites participation and ownership. (Ideally, with a clear social purpose attached.) Branded photo filters, for example, are a relatively simple way to engage consumers on a visual basis while also inviting them to create their own personal content. 

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