Three Trends to Look For in 2024: Dom Hickey – Howatson+Company

We ask industry leaders to give us their take on what’s to come in the year ahead and reflect on the year that’s passed.

As the great Prince once sang, “I have seen the future, and it will be.”

With the New Year on its way, it’s that time once again to take a peek into the future and offer up what we think it will be.

As part of an annual series, we asked industry leaders what they see coming in the year ahead while also looking at the year just passed.


 

Next up is Dom Hickey, Chief Strategy Officer at Howatson+Company – looking ahead, looking back, and revealing the fate of her New Year’s resolution for 2023.

Looking Ahead

What are three trends to look for in the coming year?

1. Consumers bite back as corporations cut corners and reduce value.

‘Put the customer at the centre of everything’ has been the most ubiquitous phrase for marketers in the past decade. But as the economy tightens its strings and companies scramble to reduce costs it’s become clear that consumers are taking a backseat when it comes to service and value. Shrinkflation and skimpflation are words synonymous with reducing value and lowering volume, while delivering poorer service.


 

As AI becomes imbedded in the day-to-day rhythm of business, automated checkouts, chatbots and chat-only service options become more popular with brands, and less popular with consumers.

In 2023 we can expect to see service standards drop even lower as business push the boundaries of how far and how much they can automate without losing customers.

Brands should be mindful that there is never a second chance to deliver a first impression.

2. Sustainability in practice

Sustainability isn’t moving off the agenda for brands or consumers anytime soon. Growing concerns about sustainability are forcing genuinely better and greener practices.

As we head into 2024, we can expect the conversation to continue with a pivot to useful, tangible outcomes. People don’t want to see lofty promises, carbon offset jargon or bloated ESG plans. The expectation is visible change. In short consumers want to see how companies are delivering on macro issues while supporting them to make positive change.

“Sustainability isn’t moving off the agenda for brands or consumers anytime soon. Growing concerns about sustainability are forcing genuinely better and greener practices.”

The Dutch-owned supermarket Makro is a brilliant example of a brand delivering sustainable change throughout the whole supply chain. From electric delivery vehicles and reduced plastic, to point-of-sales support for customers to reduce food waste.

3. Consumers will continue to defy expectations when it comes to behaviour and spending.

In Australia, we’ve seen a constant narrative of inflationary pressure caused by excess spending. The expectation with interest rate rises is to encourage a reduction in spending, but consumers are defying the odds.

What we’re actually seeing is a YOLO economy that appears to be here to stay. In a world where the macro markers of success (buying a home, investing and saving) are now seen as out of reach, revenge spending is rife.

Spending and convenience have become a rite rather than a luxury, consumers will adapt in ways that defy expectations to get what they want.

Looking Back

1. Your favorite trend of 2023?

Eat the rich. The emerging rich against poor narrative that delivered a raft of op-ed pieces, fashion trends (quiet luxury) and memes.

2. Your favorite campaign?

This is always a hard question. I’ve picked this spot from Adam&Eve in the UK because it stuck with me long after I had watched it. A simple but incredibly powerful piece of communication.

3. What was your 2023 New Year’s Resolution and did you keep it?

Mine was to learn to say ‘no’ more. I was wildly unsuccessful.


Check out our Three Trends series here.

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