Five things you should do this year

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1.     Act intelligent

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will ramp up it’s already increasing role in the marketing mix, as brands look to further personalise and automate communication across all channels.

2.     Be more human

We’ve never had more accessible technology to gather big data about consumers. To cut through the noise, marketers must leverage the tools available to foster a deeper understanding of real human behaviour, not just faceless data alone. In turn, forging a more powerful and lasting connection between brand and consumer.

3.     Sell smarter

The fact that smart speakers (and smart home products) are now largely mainstream (9.5m homes in the UK) creates a lucrative advertising opportunity for brands and marketers alike. Enabling them to serve bespoke automated content to their target audiences while they’re most receptive.

4.     Start talking

Consumers and brands will become increasingly connected by shared learning and dialogue. Creating a conversation with your audiences by providing insights and knowledge is invaluable – working together to establish trust, and thus sales.

5.     Think small

Still a relatively underutilised market, local and micro influencers share much higher levels of trust with their followers than traditional influencers (the likes of Kendall Jenner) do. These guys (and girls) typically have below 5000 followers but staggeringly high engagement. Many brands are already on the bandwagon, getting much more bang for their buck.

The Future of Retail: 2019 Trend Checklist

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What retailers will need to understand to remain successful in 2019 and beyond 

Spending becomes political

Political shifts mean that how and where products were made will drive spending.

Data-driven intimacy

As retailers gather more consumer data, EQ will be key.

Enhanced privacy

Privacy concerns will have huge ramifications as consumers' shift away from sharing online.

AI-powered everything

AI drives innovation across the entire value chain.

Sustainability

Consumers are demanding greener store experience.

Stores as a service

Create new strategies to bring newness into stores.

Story selling 

Video content is emerging as the next key shopping trend.

Redesigning the last mile

Unattended in-home delivery gathers attention and retailers should build strategies around it.

Extended product relationships 

Consumers are increasingly wanting to participate in the extended life of the products they buy.

Make it Instagramable; a new world of social selling

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There is an area in Miami called Wynwood. Wynwood has been, for many years, a part of town that you don’t walk through, ever. Not even in broad daylight. Even most South Florida residents wouldn’t walk through Wynwood. It’s a rough area with high drug and crime rates, and there’s always a story of someone who just got killed in Wynwood. However, there is one main street in Wynwood, and maybe three other side streets that are safe to walk down and are known for their beautiful graffiti murals. It also houses the Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum that came later, showcasing large-scale works by some of the world’s best-known street artists.

Just about every inch of the Wynwood Walls are an Instagram bloggers dream. Bright colours, incredible patterns, potent messages are fashion bloggers answer to dull brick backgrounds. Once a few fashion bloggers discovered the walls, word spread, hashtags were added and suddenly, Wynwood is described as ‘the most happening’ area in all of Miami. Artisan coffee shops have sprung up, whole food bakeries and every type of craft beer imaginable suddenly has a home in this particular, once avoided, part of Miami. Derelict warehouses have been turned into bakeries, art galleries and stylish bistros, not to mention late-night bars and craft breweries, while every new start-up is vying for real estate. Once upon a time you could easily drive down the main street, however, the queues of traffic and throngs of people have made driving through Wynwood a myth.

Of course, there’s multiple factors at play, but so much of the success of this particular area is down to its fame on Instagram and as the need for beautiful backdrops rises, the masses flock to Wynwood. As consumers spend more and more time on the platform, hoping to find cool spots, great views and recommended products from their favourite influencers, social selling on Instagram becomes more and more important for brands. People will look for holiday destinations on travel blogger pages like Gypsea_lust and Doyoutravel before deciding their next holiday. Interior design ideas are garnered from bloggers like Alyssa Kapito and young millennials get life advise from the likes of Caroline Calloway. No matter what it is, we want to see it on Instagram before we buy it, the social platform becoming the new try before you buy.

The coffee shops and areas of London that suddenly become Instagram famous because of a cool light instillation or a bloom of flowers around the door tell brands and businesses that if you want to attract crowds, make sure that your setting is Instagram worthy. Make sure the walls are painted, preferably in bright colours, the unattractive elements covered up and everything so picture worthy that it can’t help but attract hordes of people who are living that #gramlife.

It’s easy to roll your eyes and logically think it’s ridiculous behaviour, and it absolutely is, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s happening every day. Entire areas of cities are making money, and having money poured into them in business development and real estate projects, and all because enough people on Instagram liked it.