This Week in Business and Brands: Seeing Ahead, Global Domination, and Star Wars

darth vader outside disney mickey mouse wall

In our business, those who can seemingly see the future are the ones who have the most success: if you can tell where the trends are heading, then you can prepare accordingly and be there first to capitalize on the changing tide.  But perhaps even more powerful than anticipating change is actually being the one creating it – and this week gave us a lot of insight into those movers and shakers who are gearing up to make more impact across the globe.

New Visions

First, we got a few sneak peeks into the upcoming plays of some of the biggest and most innovative companies in the world.  Thanks to FastCompany’s in-depth reporting, we heard aboutFacebook’s plans for total global domination via artificial intelligence, drones, and virtual reality; and with an intimate profile of Elon Musk, we learned how he plans to keep our planet spinning with solar panels, electric cars, and space exploration. And even Samsung unveiled its next big step…backwards?

Daily advances in technology allow companies like the above to push the limits of reality (virtual or otherwise), and this week saw the advent of even more progress amongst our android friends.  Not only do robots now learn how to learn from one another, but the skills they’re teaching will be putting humans out of jobs before we know it.  Whether it’s grabbing the goods off of shelves or taking that inventory and restocking them, our cyborg companions are paving the way for automation and efficiency in all kinds of industries.

20/20 Hindsight

With technology enabling fast-paced change, we’re seeing cut-throat competition between brands to spread the word. But they’re sticking with the tried and true and we’re predicting that in the future we’ll be shocked that advertising was still such a big portion of marketing budgets: just last year in the U.S., the ad industry made up nearly 20% of the country’s entire GDP.  Even more baffling is that as advertising continues to expand into the digital space, brands have to compete for real estate not only with each other but with the newest obstacle of viewer-installed, ad-blocking software.  As the standard for blocking will become increasingly stringent, strategists will need to think of new ways of connecting with their audience. A welcome change to the interruption advertising that brand seem addicted to!

Choosing a Lens

With consumers driving this move away from advertising, keeping a sharp eye on their behavior is the only way to adapt and thrive.  One strategy is to use stereotypes in your favor with buyer personas, allowing for curated messaging and more effective communication.  That said, there’s one stereotype that won’t be getting as much attention next year: abandoning millennials as an age-based demographic, marketers will now categorize the young by their passions and interests instead.

This week also showed us some other engagement strategies already in the works, offering an exciting glimpse into efforts whose proof will be in the pudding.  For athletic fashion brand Lululemon, it meant providing a holistic environment within their brand-new flagship store, replete with yoga workshops, art exhibits, and music programs.  Back on the digital side, Disney’s got its finger in every pie to ensure the upcoming Star Wars release is more powerful than we could possibly imagine.  Sure, it may be easy for a media giant of that size, but even smaller brands are employing far-reaching strategies like Burberry’s and Stitch Fix’s personalized, mobile experiences.  With so many ways to skin this cat of consumer connection, we can’t wait to see which methods will be met with the most success. (Ironically enough, the most visionary business strategy might just be Warby Parker’s.)

We look forward to next week’s arrival of the newest viewpoints in business and brands.  For now, we’ll leave you with one amusing thing we didn’t see coming: Oxford Dictionary’s word