Amidst the slew of content predictions and trend reports currently making their rounds, three major elements have managed to stand out from the crowd. Here’s our take on the most salient movements making their way through today’s world of brand-to-demand marketing, along with key takeaways and handpicked expert insights on where they’re headed next:
Content Enters the Metaverse
This year, as heavily filtered or full-out cartoon avatars become our new calling cards, reality and the digital world finally come face to face and unite as one in a new, fully immersive virtual realm known as the metaverse.
Made up of 3D gaming platforms like Roblox and Epic, as well as a host of VR and AR experiences related to work, home, and play, these limitless spaces are always active, live and happening in real-time. And they offer users recognition as well as ways to create, own, sell and invest in virtual content from the likes of clothing and objects to real estate, office space, recreational activities, and far beyond.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, “The metaverse is the next big technology platform, attracting online game makers, social networks and other technology leaders to capture a slice of what we calculate to be a nearly $800 billion market opportunity.” That’s why major players like Nike, Gucci, Disney and others are betting big with experiential audience engagement and patents for a theme park metaverse — and why Microsoft just acquired video game maker Activison Blizzard for nearly $70 billion in cash.
Key Learning: “You can’t just enter a new platform without taking the new format into account,” warns Influencer Marketing Hub. “In Roblox, for example, brands gain more traction when they partner with members of the Roblox developer community in creating items and experiences…Think of this as influencer campaigns. User-generated content is important, so community members become integral parts of the execution of your campaigns.”
Experts Predict: “The metaverse became inescapable in 2021, with lofty promises and platform reinventions around wedding the real world with the virtual,” according to Marketing Dive. “In 2022, brand applications will be clunky, but could produce learnings for if and when the tech frontier realizes its potential.”
Brands Become More Human
As tech takes over, screen time grows, and the pandemic continues to take its toll, we all need a healthy dose of humanity to build trust among brands. Regardless of your industry or offering, today’s marketing teams would be wise to shift their thinking towards a new standard: H2H, or Human-to-Human, messaging.
No matter the content, people expect realness and authenticity from the companies they choose to engage with.
“In a climate of wariness on all issues, consumers are spending their money only with brands they trust,” says Forbes.
“Earning that trust requires sharing content that is timely, easily accessible, and honest.” And with responsive storytelling that puts its audience’s interests and needs first, your strategy will work to build community, loyalty and customers across the brand-to-demand spectrum.
Key Learning: “The latest holiday season saw several marketers key into straightforward themes of togetherness in an attempt to authentically engage people around a time of year typically dogged by a focus on gifts and consumerism,” according to Marketing Dive. “Starbucks and Target put inclusion and community at the center of their efforts, suggesting how brands may continue emphasizing human-centric campaigns as 2022 marketing plans get underway.”
Experts Predict: “Customers want to see empathetic, human communication from brands,” says Michael Kalli, Managing Director at Ello Media. “A softer marketing approach that focuses on human centricity is the only way forward.”
Design Goes Next Level
With so much in flux between tech, current events, and their impact on human nature, the aesthetic emerging alongside is especially fascinating. Immersive styles ranging from Y2K retro-futurism and 90s nostalgia to intricate maximalism, expressive lettering, and unexpected fonts and color combinations are coming into the spotlight across social media, brand marketing efforts, product design, and more.
“This year, classic styles return in innovative ways, like a genre-bending mashup that feels known and unknown at the same time,” according to 99designs by Vista.
“These trends are both soothingly nostalgic and oddly fresh. It’s the past reimagined for the future —” an apt look for this complicated, transitional moment in time.
Key Learning: “Chaos and uncertainty is moving many aspects of design in radically different directions; sometimes so quickly, we barely notice it happening,” says Creative Boom. “Think back five years, and design was dominated by a minimalist, geometric look. And yet, in a world that’s been torn apart by the pandemic and economic crises, that utopian aesthetic seems ever more outdated.”
Experts Predict: Chris Algar of Design Bridge London sees vibrant and playful typography taking center stage this year with distinct lines, irregular shapes, and bold colors. But if you’re not ready for a full brand makeover, Social Media Today suggests that “updating the presentation style of your posts, or re-arranging your photoshoots and product displays to match consumer interest, can yield solid results.”
No doubt about it, we’re in for another year of firsts and feats across the content marketing landscape. To keep an eye on how these trends evolve, stay tuned to springboard.