Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Birnbach Communications' Top Predictions for 2014, Part V: Ongoing Consumer Trends

Here's our list of ongoing consumer trends we expect to see in 2014.
  • The Battle for the Living Room.  There are two fronts to this battle: high-end TVs and gaming consoles. CES will generate some buzz for the latest mega-ultra high def systems while the battle between Xbox and PlayStation will especially heat up around next Christmas. 
  • Cord-cutting will continue to be a top story.  Because the different streaming services offer complementary offerings, we think there will be a shift in coverage away from comparing Netflix vs. Amazon Prime vs. Hulu; instead, the focus will be more on streaming services vs. cable. Over the next 24 months, cable, while more expensive, has an advantage because it is still easier to use than having to switch inputs between streaming services and cable channels. 
  • Consumers still expect Apple to unveil a new way to watch TV, but Apple will offer, instead, the iWatch.  Samsung beat it to the punch with a large connected wrist-device that looks it was designed by Dick Tracy, but we expect Apple to launch its iWatch connected device before it announces an iTV. That said, we still expect demand for an Apple iTV to generate a lot of speculation in 2014. 
  • Premature deathwatch of things that are very much alive. People love to predict the death of various, usually popular items, devices or technology. Here are candidates for 2014: 
    •  PCs: We may be in a Post-PC era but corporations (among others) are continuing to buy PCs or Macs; and if they are buying tablets it’s in addition to, not a replacement of PCs. They may be ailing, but PCs are not dead yet. 
    • Cable TV: Cable carriers are looking at ways to evolve, offering services via the Internet. We don’t think cable companies will disappear anytime soon because they’ve made bundling – phone/cable and Internet – so indispensable. 
    • Press releases: Despite social media, there’s still a place and a value to press releases. And companies need to make sure they include some of their keywords in their press releases because that’s important from an SEO perspective.  Keep in mind: Google’s algorithm has changed (again) and that has changed how releases need to be organized. The rise of multimedia and infographics is having a positive effect on the role of press releases. 
    • Media relations: Social media is no longer just for early-adopting B2B companies but media relations continues to be important. By the end of the decade, both media relations and social media will converge into a single integrated effort.
  • Actual deathwatch: Things we feel are actually dying. 
    • Paper-based holiday cards: Actually, businesses do seem to be shifting from paper-based holiday cards to more interactive, email cards (with video or animation accompanied by a soundtrack) to wish us all season’s greetings. However, that’s true for business partners and vendors but may not be true for your Aunt Gloria or college friends.
    • The phrase “at press time”: This once routine phrase used by the media is near obsolete in a 24/7 news cycle. 
    • The words “authentic” and “artisanal”: This may be a pet peeve, but often, when someone claims something to be “authentic” we get the sense the thing in question is actually not authentic. As for artisanal, that seems like a nominee for overused word-of-the-year.

Let us know if you agree or disagree. Check back after New Year's for our final sets of predictions for 2014 or click here for Part I, Part II, Part III or Part IV.

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