These 3 trends are the most important because they transcend every category and industry that I’m engaged with personally and professionally. Likewise, when I evaluate the potential of any new brand or service, I want to see at least two of these trends at play.
Trend 1: Experiences
Here are 5 examples of how brands are creating fun, memorable and relevant experiences:
- Pop-Ups: This past Wednesday at 11am, In N Out Burger did a pop up in London that was only scheduled to be open for 4 hours or until supplies ran out. Lines were super long and naturally they ran out of burgers well before 3pm. Big shoutout to Time Out and Snapchat for alerting me to this. More pics below of the event. Another pop up worth checking out is Magnum Ice Cream on Prince Street, in collaboration with Refinery 29. The Raden luggage pop up was also outstanding. And finally, the entertainment industry has been on a roll when it comes to pop-ups e.g. Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Eric Andre’s Ranch Dispensary (Adult Swim).
- Scent is powerful!! The Faena Hotel in Buenos Aires has the most magnificent scent wafting through the hotel. I am also a sucker for Kerastase professional hair products (although they’ve recently switched the scent on one of my favorites so looking for a new brand). And I am a loyal L’Oreal customer (across multiple brands) because of how they scent their products.
- Membership Clubs – Soho House/Ludlow House provide very cool membership experiences which then become de facto extensions of your personal brand to be enjoyed by invited guests/clients. Neuehouse, likewise, the membership-only creative co-working space in NYC and LA, also provides this level of hospitality experience.
- Unique/Rare Access – Just booked my 3rd trip with National Geographic Travel. They have changed my expectations of what encompasses a great travel experience. Not only do they provide high level luxury, what really sets them apart is their unparalled access to experts, places, and events.
- Make it shareable. Great experiences need to be shared. A key question to ask: have we done enough to make this Instagram or Snapchat-worthy? Brands that have done a great job include Black Tap Milkshakes, Eataly Downtown, Target Pop Ups.
Read on below for Trends 2 and 3.
Trend 2: Disruptive Tech
Every industry and every aspect of our lives is impacted – and generally made better – by technology. Fascinating how magical it is when it works and frustrating and disappointing it is when it fails by just a smidgen. I believe our expectations for technology are way higher than they are for people.
GE recently announced that all new young hires will be required to learn how to code. This is a bold step and shows a very impressive commitment to innovation and to positioning GE to be a leader in technology in the future.
When it comes to technology, here’s what I’m looking for:
- Innovation and on-going improvements – not only for a new iPhone 7 but this also bleeds over into my expectations for consumer products e.g. I buy Finish dishwashing powerballs because I’ve found them to be vastly superior to Cascade’s.
- UX – placing an online order at Amazon is an amazing experience vs. ordering from most other online retailers. On the other hand, Amazon’s Alexa remains a disappointment – e.g. still doesn’t sync my calendar which is the skill I most want it to have!! How hard can that be?
- Apps – Very few of them are perfect in all situations so there’s a lot of room for improvement. But I do love my apps!
- Internet Service – Talk about frustrating! The first company that provides better, more consistent service than Time Warner Cable, gets my business.
- Social Media – snapchat, instagram, twitter, facebook etc – all make life so much easier and more efficient. They keep us tapped in to what is going on around us. Social media also gives brands and entrepreneurs the opportunity to get their message out and stay relevant at a relatively low cost. Snapchat is still my current favorite but am disappointed they’ve gotten rid of local stories.
Trend 3: Small Brands Disrupt the Mainstream
Major opportunities for startups and indie brands especially those categorized as artisanal or handcrafted. This trend is especially strong for food, beverages, alcohol, apparel, retail, toiletries – but applies to transportation and increasingly health care and the financial industry.
It’s noteworthy that disruption is happening on both the business and consumer end. Consumers are disrupting the system by actively seeking out smaller, more obscure brands. In the process, big brands are being repositioned as “generic,” less specific and definitely less aspirational. At the same time, entrepreneurs and startups, are seeking niche opportunities within industries ripe for disruption. Many categories are not keeping pace and sooner or later they will be disrupted.
Here are some of my favorite niche brands:
- White Moustache Yogurt
- Mother In Law’s Kimchi
- Brooklyn Gin
- Warby Parker
- Ace Hotel
- Anthom (Retail)
- Vans Shoes
- Moo (business cards)
See below for pics from Wednesday’s London In-N-Out pop up.