For better or for worse, COVID will continue to be a force in 2022, affecting consumers and businesses alike. It's not all doom and gloom though. The pandemic has triggered the emergence of key trends that celebrate the Australian spirit, showing a renewed optimism for the forthcoming year.
NEW VALUES HAVE EMERGED
Australian businesses survived COVID by embracing a new set of values: resilience, community, trust and family. This newfound closeness was clear through behaviour of both the athletes and the viewers of the delayed 2020 Tokyo games as the nation embraced two weeks of sport as a welcome reprieve for those in lockdown to see new Olympic heroes appear. A good Ashes series for Australia and the upcoming delayed Winter Olympics will continue the rise of those values.
GROWTH THROUGH LISTENING
Technology connected us to the people in our lives, and when we couldn’t reach out to people we know, we embraced those we didn’t for entertainment, learning and personal growth. Podcasting now reaches 5.6 million Australians, or 26% of the population, and weekly podcast listening saw a 53% increase over the 2020 study that was conducted prior to the pandemic lockdown*. We expect this trend to continue due to the lean in, lean out nature of listening as the perfect accompaniment to multitasking in the home.
* The annual Infinite Dial Australia 2021 study, released by Edison Research and Commercial Radio Australia
WFH WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE A PLACE
WFH (Working from home) changed the digital infrastructure of many businesses and homes. It highlighted a need for better connectivity solutions and of course lighting solutions for video conferencing. Who doesn’t like to look better on Zoom, Teams or Google Meet? Hybrid working solutions will continue into 2022. They may even turn the daily commute from a thing of dread and negativity into a joyous journey to reconnect with colleagues. It will be interesting to see which industries take advantage of these new ways of working. Regardless of how businesses adapt, the home office space will likely continue to be an important and permanent addition to the home, a Zen space of productivity, and – according to research from Domain – can add 10% to the value of your home.
THE RISE AND RISE OF WELLBEING
Maintaining mental and physical wellbeing is now very much part of day-to-day life, accelerated by the ability to connect either physically or virtually. In this space in 2022, there will be more mindfulness apps and more culture crossovers. Do you remember the last time that fitness met culture and we got Zumba? According to Trendhunter, 2022 will see the rise of K-Pop fitness. Importantly, and to remove that seemingly permanent connection to work and the potential for burnout, many businesses will continue their fun virtual rituals, in addition to being open to physical rituals during the standard working day. The health industry will build on this opportunity through a plethora of Apps such as Headspace for meditation, or Stretchy to remind you to take stretch break. With so many options for wellbeing, the role of aggregator will be highly coveted. It’s not surprising to see brands like Nike provide advice on running, combined with running challenges, along with tips for health and wellness. However, Optus have embraced this role pulling together influencers to share cardio, yoga, sports skills, meditation and even family workouts. The opportunity in 2022 is for brands to make life easier, and we expect the rewards will be high for those that do.
STRENGTH IN LOCAL BECOMES STRENGTH IN COMMUNITY
For over a year, local community has been regaining a voice that many felt was lost. A joint focus on convenience and providence has given cause to supporting those businesses that service local needs. That strength is spreading as we see the rise of new communities, united through both physical and virtual connection that act both as cultural identifiers and unifiers.
THE GREAT RECONNECTION
As borders reopen and Australians can once again indulge in their love of travel, expect a good old fight for that tourist dollar. It won’t just be from the states and territories either. In 2022, travel will exert influence across more categories than ever before, with people needing more stuff to travel with, be it new clothing, a new vehicle or better connectivity as the lucky few take their remote working choice to new levels.
THE HUNT FOR ATTENTION WILL BECOME HARDER
In a world where the expectation is that consumers can access an ad-free or personalised service, provided they can pay for it, advertisers will need smarts to cut through. Besides the odd sporting event, mass media is less mass than it once was. This means that businesses will need to focus on resonating with communities through a multi-channel solution. In some cases, those communities are based around people, people such as MrBeast* (Jimmy Donaldson) with his 47.8m subscribers who eagerly await content that costs $1000’s to make at best, versus a company like Disney who are reporting to spend $33 billion (US) in 2022.
*MrBeast, is an American YouTuber, credited with pioneering a genre of YouTube videos that centre on expensive stunts, where he sets a challenge, and if the person makes it, they get paid some serious dollars.
THE CREATORS OF CONTENT WILL BE KING
The hunger for new content will continue to grow. However that content must service the needs of a community. Content is like a drug and, if you like it, you keep consuming it. Bingeing went to a new level in 2021, an unsustainable level where creators of premium content struggled to keep up. It’s no surprise then that Netflix will raise their price again in Jan 2022 to help fund the creation of new content, and we expect the others to follow suit across the year. To help offset that binge cost, both Disney and Netflix have discovered the power in linear content to keep bringing audiences back, releasing new episodes weekly with full access to past episodes. With more SVOD competition, and annual price rises, to bring in more viewers, could we see the advent of a freemium model for SVOD that mirrors what Spotify does for Audio? I’d happily tolerate one ad per 30 mins of content to have access to more. We've touched on content aggregation already and in 2022 Google is primed to capture and monetise these premium audiences as an aggregator for all streaming services. The words "audience insight", "data" and "privacy" quickly spring to mind.
DATA AND PRIVACY THE COST TO PLAY
In a cookieless world, first party data is as valuable as gold, hence Google’s play to grab every piece of audience data it can. To succeed in 2022, businesses must protect their customers’ data, using it as a force for good to create value. Failure to do so will likely trigger a brutal backlash as consumers decide what information is shared and with whom.
Since Apple launched its new operating system in 2021 with its increased privacy settings, consumers have started to opt out of Apps monitoring and commercialising their data, creating a challenge for some. It doesn’t stop advertising but it does mean the Apps know less about their audience affecting their potential for ad revenue. For 2022, it means those businesses building data strategies that utilise their first-party data will be best placed to look at behavioural planning with attitudinal overlays and refinements to understand their communities.
DIGITAL CONSUMERISM WILL GROW AND NOT JUST IN ECOMMERCE
Ecommerce will continue to grow as businesses make it easier to transact online, creating new direct relationships through shoppable advertising or even within video content, to help feed their first party data funnel. Then again, the transaction may be for a virtual item to enrich your digital space. In 2022, the big opportunity is digital consumerism thanks to the creation of Blockchain-based non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Life is no longer about the physical manifestation of products, it's now about the virtual. Brands who can play in this space could tap into new revenue streams from new audiences. Whether that leads to growth in the real world, only time will tell.
WEBSITES ARE GOING TO EVOLVE
The metaverse is here. It may not be the fully formed and virtual world of the Matrix but games like Fortnite are bringing together communities in virtual dimensions that combine commerce and entertainment. Web 3.0 will start to take shape in 2022, as we see more businesses embrace brand rooms over web pages to create a virtual brand experience bringing to life the lifestyle of the brand whilst showing off products.
THE WAR ON WASTE WILL TAKE MANY FORMS
When it comes to waste, there is your personal impact and the impact of the businesses you support. The automotive industry is at the forefront of change with Volvo locking in dates for its move to all Electric Vehicles (EVs), and with many new EVs on the market, 2022 could become a tipping point for eco into mainstream. Interestingly, amidst strong digital growth, the tech industry that creates a huge carbon footprint has steered clear of this discussion on waste. It’s become clear that businesses who tackle climate change head on, can generate a disproportionate share of mind with consumers. EPSON, who are on the prestigious CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) A list for both climate change and water security, saw their share price rise 39% across 2021.
REPRESENTATION AND INCLUSION
And lastly, the world is multicultural and diverse, so it’s great to see brands move away from demographic targeting based on societal tiers that have no place. For example, Ozzy Osbourne and Prince Charles are the same age, both married twice, wealthy and live in a castle, and that is probably where the similarities end. Behaviours and attitudes should unite and differentiate, and brands who get that will see the greatest gains.
So, here’s the nervousness. In 2022 and as a result of COVID, Australia is on the verge of a two-tier society of those who are vaxxed and those who are not, with a highly visible divide that denies access to Australian culture such as pubs, restaurants, museums, cafes, and so on. This is one to watch since, despite all the optimism and opportunity out there, this could still have a major impact on 2022.
If you’re in the mood for more reading about 2022, may we suggest:
2022 Trendhunter Trend Report
PWC Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2022-2027
KANTAR Media Trends and Predictions 2022
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