5 Business Trends you can count on in 2016

1 Gamification

The buzzword for 2016 will be gamifi cation. With an ever shrinking attention span and an increasing number of services and products entering the market, particularly online, companies need to innovate to offer a more entertaining and tangible user experience. Creative businesses will have to introduce a greater variety of games to engage with their (Gen Y) customers. While many may argue that this is nothing new, user engagement will become even more important in the future. Millennials simply love this sort of user engagement and so should you.

Need an example?

A great example of gamifi cation was the SAMSUNG “All eyes on S4” campaign in Zurich, Switzerland. Players were challenged to win a new generation mobile phone simply by keeping their eyes on it for a certain period of time. They were challenged to avoid all types of outrageous distractions such as barking dogs, bickering couples and motorcycles as a crowd gathers around the contestant.

Samsung created an experience that increased its brand awareness on more than one level. Not only did the campaign involve the contestants themselves, but also the secondary audience of spectators at the scene. An extremely entertaining and immersive social experience.

Summary: Companies need to innovate and create richer user experience that involves fun and gamifi cation instead of the old fashioned way of making a product attractive. Interaction, engagement and fun-user-experiences will make a signifi cant difference.

2 Impartial Content Marketing

Undoubtedly the best companies in 2016 will not only offer their customers a richer user experience, fun and gamifi cation, they will also integrate impartial and transparent content into their sales processes.

How do they do that? And why is transparency and impartiality so important?

The answer lies in the inherent nature of the Internet itself. Any information is just a few mouse clicks away. By providing valuable and impartial content to support consumer research and purchase decisions (yes, you may have guessed it, many consumers will engage in research before purchasing a product or service), companies will gain points on credibility and trust. Indeed, by allowing customers to get their information from other sources, even offering these sources freely onsite to customers, chances are increased that the same customer will buy from your company, even at a higher price.

Make it easy to compare, share and support your customer’s decision making with impartial content. This means not only sharing where you are the best fit and about what your product or service can offer, but also acknowledging what your products are not.

3 Social Commerce

What exactly is social commerce or s-commerce?

Social commerce is a term often used to describe new online retail models or marketing strategies that incorporate social networks and/ or peer-to-peer communication to drive sales. Expressed in only four words, one could describe it as "social media meets shopping."

The most popular social commerce concepts are peer-to-peer sales (like eBay or the Amazon Marketplace), social network-driven sales (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter), peer recommendations (Amazon, Yelp, JustBoughtIt), group buying (Groupon, LivingSocial) and participatory commerce (Threadless, Kickstarter, CutOnYourBias) among others.

The truth is, today, social commerce generates only a relatively small volume of retail sales. However, it is a growing trend and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should not ignore its impact. According to various social media experts and analysts, there will be a signifi cant increase in social commerce in 2016.

While it is true that many retailers are still figuring out how to best drive sustainable eCommerce purchases via social media, there are several developments on the way, such as Pinterest’s “Buy it” button and Instagram’s ad program. Do watch out for Facebook and YouTube too. With the addition of new features, these sites and apps will become more eCommerce-friendly.

4 IoT

What is IoT? IoT is the abbreviation for the internet of things. What does the internet of things do? Essentially the internet of things allows devices to connect via the internet.

Undoubtedly the most popular example is the smart fridge. A smart fridge can tell you if it is out of milk, texting you if its internal cameras see there is none left, or that the carton is past its use-by date.

However, there is a lot more to the IoT than just smart fridges.

Forbes magazines for example defi nes six main markets for the IoT. The markets include wearable devices such as fi tness accessories, smart-home applications like automated lighting and heating, medical electronics, industrial automation, including tasks like remote servicing and predictive maintenance, connected cars and smart cities, with applications to assist with traffi c control and other tasks within the public sector.

These markets and the range of products that come along with it, will then offer investors, developers and SMEs great growth opportunities.

But how will the internet of things affect your business?

It depends on the industry you are working in: manufacturing for example may be one of the major industries benefi ting from IoT. How exactly? For example by being able to organise tools in a smarter way and also keep track of machines and people.

Farmers and golf course operators could be another example for businesses which may also benefi t from the IoT. By connecting sensors to monitor grass growth, crops and cattle, the result may be an increase in effi ciency and higher levels of production.

Indeed there are countless opportunities and potential forms for the use of the IoT and it is very likely that connected devices will slowly but surely move into most businesses, similarly the way computers and the internet have.

5 Connection Economy

What exactly is the connection economy? Defi ned by Ian Altmann: "The connection economy rewards value created by building relationships and creating connections, rather than building assets by industrialism."

Altman highlighted in his article that the power of connecting people as a useful business model and he gave some fi ne examples of companies which have successfully leveraged on this model. Most noticeably Uber, AirBnb and crowdfunding companies like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. What these companies have in common is that they connect buyers to sellers, or consumer to content. Altman argues that it is no longer suffi cient for modern companies to only sell a product and receive revenue. Today and going forward, customers seek to connect with other likeminded individuals and it is crucial that companies offer their clients an opportunity to do so.

In summary, if companies want to build something that stands the test of time, they will have to connect customers and valuable resources to each other and they will have to make sure that their service or product extends beyond the sale.

For SMEs, this is certainly something to consider in every business strategy for 2016. The transparency and community aspects which come along with a connected economy, as clients and consumers can openly discuss products and services, can offer valuable feedback to your business for further improvement.

So to help your business stay resilient in 2016, create a community and connect your customers!

- Björn Robert Raschovsky, Online Marketing Consultant -