AI, Curated Fandom & Contextual Commerce: The Key Issues For Consumers In 2024

AI, Curated Fandom & Contextual Commerce: The Key Issues For Consumers In 2024
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Trends and issues, including AI, the inexorable rise of Baby Boomers, curated fandom, contextual commerce and cost of living concerns, are set to dominate the hearts and minds of consumers next year, according to The Media Store’s Consumer Trends 2024.

The report, released today, outlines the top trends set to interest, impact and inspire consumers next year. It explores the top seven trends set to capture customers next year and how advertisers can respond to teach.

“For want of a better word, the word ‘trends’ suggests that something is fleeting, when in actual fact, what you will see in this report is that these trends are compounding, evolving and growing – and they are all deeply connected. Exposing and unpicking them allows us to find spaces to grow in a challenging year ahead,” said Sam Cousins (lead image), chief strategy officer at The Media Store.

According to the report, the seven key issues set to be top-of-mind for consumers in 2024 are:

Costs compounded

Australians are already concerned about the cost-of-living crisis – and next year isn’t expected to be any different. Economists are ‘deeply pessimistic’ about 2024, the report says, given 2023’s consecutive interest rate rises, high inflation, rental squeeze and record low per capita disposable income rate.

The report predicts a rise in hermit culture in 2024, as people stay in, invest in, and entertain at home, along with the growth of knowledge culture – a steady resurgence of microlearning via online platforms.

Next year, advertisers will have to work hard to restore consumer and business confidence. Finding the right audience will become critical, harnessing targeting and first-party data to reach the right customer at the right time. Additionally, brands will need to know exactly where consumers are spending, to capitalise on moments of value, while also allowing campaigns to shift and flex to changing habits.

Conflict & Chaos

Australia is at its lowest level of social cohesion on record, according to the report. Financial hardships, along with global unrest and the Voice Referendum result, have left many Australians feeling disillusioned and disconnected.

Brands have a role to play in increasing social cohesion, the report says, and in dissecting it, both by championing the truth or using technology to uncover fake information. For advertisers in 2024, there will be a renewed focus on clear delineation of what is real and what is fake, and ensuring content aligns with brand and consumer values.

Climate control

Advertisers should hone in on sustainability in 2024, as consumers continue to call out brands for their environmental practices. Nearly 70 per cent of consumers want clearer information when buying products and services, which means brands will need to sharpen their sustainability narrative in 2024. This means making real change on everything from packaging to waste processes and being transparent with their customers.

“A simple and honest approach is what Australians are demanding, and the level of effort required to make [sustainable] choices needs to be low. Messaging is key – brands need to talk to real people to find out what they actually need to know to make a decision. Can you give customers a choice of product, delivery, packaging or disposal? Could this be shown in paid and owned communications helping your customers to be part of the journey? These gentle nudges can help push brands and customers in the right direction,” Cousins said.

Curated fandom

Barbie, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, the Beckhams, the Matildas – it’s been a huge year for fandom, as brands have become smarter at curating fans and expanding fan ecosystems, the report says. 2024 is set to be another big year for fandom nationally, and savvy brands will lean into key cultural moments like Taylor Swift’s upcoming Australian tour, to capture fan attention.

“Matching the right cultural moment to the right talent or franchise can be hard, especially when culture beats to the sound of its own drum and we can’t predict the involvement or uptake. Sometimes, it just takes a little creativity to match a brand to a fan ecosystem,” Cousins said.

Contextual commerce

According to the report, every media touchpoint is an opportunity for commerce, and this notion of ‘contextual commerce’ is set to explode in 2024. This year, consumers have already witnessed the rise of integration of commerce into digital platforms – think Disney, Marvel or Star Wars, where merchandise is being sold in-program. Next year, expect to see contextual commerce taken to the next level, with the growth of text message-based functionality, customers liaising with chatbots to organise purchases, and the rise of short-form shopping via TikTok, YouTube and Instacart.

For brands looking to leverage the trend, the focus should be on adding value to the customer experience.

“Finding the right moment is key. The higher the relevance in that moment, the higher the conversion. Essentially, customers are looking for a frictionless experience with less steps, easier navigation and more relevant products. The evolution of AI, matched with customer data and behavioural insights, will help find these moments of value for advertisers,” said Cousins.

Communal AI

2024 will see the rise of communal AI: the need to understand the human contribution required to prevent negative AI evolution and bring positive AI evolution to the forefront.

Brands are well aware that AI isn’t going anywhere; the key in the next 12 months will be finding a way to embrace the technology and its positive applications.

“Perspective here needs to come from the benefit to the customer and to the business,” Cousins said. “Brands clearly need to show proof points of products and services that also protect their customer data and operate in an ethical way. Good news stories around brands and products means the role of PR will become more important, as will influencers and brand ambassadors. The marketing and advertising industry is naturally aligned with advanced technology so AI will become as connected to what we do as CRMs, CDPs and DMPs.”

Consider(ed) Boomers

2024 is set to be the year of the boomer, as brands seek to tap into an underexplored market. According to the report, over 55s are currently spending disposable income at a rate that outpaces inflation, yet they are largel ignored as a major buying demographic.

Currently, 10 per cent of social commerce shoppers are now Boomers and that is set to grow based on social media uptake, given the rise (57 per cent increase) in Baby Boomers using TikTok since 2021.

Brands now need to broaden their segmentation, and not just an audience targeting level, but throughout their communications. “Talking to older Australians doesn’t just mean TV; instead, it’s about taking first-party data and finding them in any digital ecosystem. This cohort represents a real opportunity for growth,” said Cousins.

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