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The Future Laboratory

TREND BRIEFING 2013 DEBRIEF London based forecasting agency The Future Laboratory was founded in 2001 with two aims – to innovate and inspire through thoroughly informed brand strategy. We attended their annual Australian Trend Briefing in Melbourne last week where founders Martin Raymond and Christopher Sanderson shed some light on the way of the future. The focus of the 2013 brief was on collaboration in all its forms and placed a new significance on the suffix ‘co’: ‘Think co-opetion, co-selling, co-curating, co-marketing and co-sharing… to create new and increasingly powerful brand, product and service categories.’

In the Co-Commerce Revolution three key market and consumer trends were highlighted:

Symbiotic Branding Collaboration between brands has traditionally been seen as optional or tokenistic. Now ‘a web of interdependency is emerging in which a brand’s competitors are its new collaborators, and customers are the new designers, marketers and retailers.’ The trend is driven by urbanisation and space becoming scarcer, an age of austerity as brands learn to cope with globally influenced financial strain and the way that ‘open sourcing’ has become instrumental in how products are developed and the way they are used. In this video Samsung effectively uses the expectations of one brand to convey the values of another in a form of Symbiotic Branding The Future Laboratory has coined ‘brandalism’.

Faction Marketing This is described as a reactionary movement towards the ‘know-everything, see-everything transparency culture of the web’. Consumers continue to demand the truth but are more engaged by fantasy: ‘narrative brandscapes, back stories and fairy tales.’ Thus the blending of fact and fiction to form the concept of Faction marketing where ‘tall tales are planted in real-world media, social platforms and networks.’ The trend has underscored a value of brand history or heritage and highlighted the return to storytelling. The video, The Forty Story was made at the 40 year anniversary of multi-disciplinary design firm Pentagram, and uses a fictional life story to tell the tale of the brand.

The New Sublimity A new sublimity couched in the idea of a digital switch off or digital diet, where ‘consumers are turning away from their busy, hyper-connected, digital lifestyles and prioritising personal fulfillment and well being.’ A fantastic approach to this sentiment was envisaged by renowned London department store Selfridges with their No Noise program, where they created dedicated quiet spaces free from the noise of Oxford Circus and ‘The Quiet Shop’ where products were effectively stripped of all branding. The 2013 Trend Briefing was interesting and inspiring, conveying thoughtful and exciting marketing insights that are without doubt applicable across all modes and types of businesses. We certainly came away encouraged by the energy and innovation of some of the brand stories discussed and look forward to carrying on that innovative and future-focused spirit at Office 2010.

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