Four business trends to watch in 2018

We’re a couple of weeks into the new year and (I hope!) back into work after that first week of intense goal setting, so let’s take a look at the trends to look out for this year.

The growth of social media communities and live video

Our use of technology has increased dramatically in recent years, but we still want to connect with human beings. Patience with businesses who did little but broadcast content on social media dropped significantly in 2017. At the same time, live video became quick, easy and accessible to anyone with a smartphone. These trends coming together in 2018 mean we can connect using technology but on a more human level than ever before.  Smart brands will be tapping into live video within online communities to build relationships. Then when those people meet for real, they already know one another.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence will increasingly be used to perform mundane, repetitive task that have been done by humans up until now. If that sounds daunting, then it needn’t be.  According to economic consultant Andrew Charlton, there’s no need to fear AI because it will make businesses more efficient and free up us humans to do more interesting work.

You can find examples of how you could tap into AI in your small business in this article on the Internet of Things.

A new generation is coming of age

There’s no doubt you’ve heard a lot about millennials over the last few years! Their buying habits, their work ethic and much more. In fact, the oldest millennials are now thirty-five and Generation Z (born from 1998) are starting to join the workforce, which means they have money to spend. Generation Z is the first one to have grown up with hand-held devices as the norm rather than a cool new gadget. How will they change the world? Only time will tell.

Sophisticated consumers

Today’s buyers are sophisticated consumers who already know all about your product’s features and benefits before they come to buy it. That means the buyer’s journey is no longer linear and businesses now need to meet their consumers where they are. Businesses need to be thinking in terms of developing communities (yes, communities again!) where there are a mix of buyers, experts and people who are just learning about what you do. The aim is to serve your community whether they are ready to buy or not.

Following on from this, businesses also need to think beyond selling benefits and features, and towards customer experience. Customers are looking for shared values and experiences, so think about using  storytelling and gathering your community together at events.

So there you have it, some business trends to look out for in 2018.

Image: nastya_gepp

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