The Think Collective’s Top 10 Global Trends for 2017

by: Louise Graham

“2017 will see brands move to more specialization, visualization, personalization, and humanization in their content marketing programs and approaches”.
Michael Brenner— CEO of Marketing Insider Group, and co-author of The Content Formula.

At The Think Collective, we keep a keen eye on TrendWatching, Forbes and the latest global trend analysis. This ensures that we keep ahead of the curve when giving marketing advice to entrepreneurs and startups.

2016 was certainly a year that will go down in history. In response, customer expectations in 2017 will favour innovations that have a positive impact in a world of political and economic turmoil; simplify complexity; and give consumers a better sense of stability and self.

2017 is going to be an exciting year as brands disrupt markets by creatively harnessing and streamlining major advances in technology (AI, AR, VR, live streaming and cloud adoption).

Let’s look at some of the predicted innovation/technology, marketing and consumer trends for next year.



“AI stands to become one of the most disruptive forces in the IT world” (Forbes, 2017)

AI can now collaboratively work with human professionals to solve complex problems. Tractica, August 2016, predicted that users of virtual assistants are set to rise from 390 million to 1.8 billion worldwide by 2021. Our last blogfeatured another impressive example: the futuristic Taiwanese product GliaStudio which automatically creates video summaries of text articles using artificial intelligence (AI).


The New York Times Bestselling Author Roger James Hamilton, recently posted a series of top trends for 2017. The rise of Renaissance 2.0 is all about customisation of products, services and experiences. With the rise in conscious spending, customers are increasingly valuing quality over quantity. He explains: “All of our online experiences, from our social media platforms to our mobile apps to our video and music playlists are already customized. With the growth in co-investing, co-purchasing and co-working, we’re going to increasingly see customized dashboards and interfaces extend far beyond our current co-creation. From personalized learning, to personalized medicine, to personalized art — the paradox is that more powerful technology in AI and big data is allowing us to become more human”.


Undoubtedly the hottest topic at the moment is the mainstream shift to VR and AR experiences. We could almost write an entire blog about that subject alone!

The overwhelming success of PokemonGo has shown that consumers are ready for AR and that there is major earning potential for marketers and innovators. Forbes predicts a flow of AR games, ads and apps. Workplace gamification is predicted to become a core business strategy, with employers shifting their understanding of digital experiences. Both VR and AR will improve employee engagement, retention and customer experience.



Using VR for content marketing is also a predicted trend. 360 videos make users feel as if they are immersed in, and connected to, something unique and memorable. In July 2016, online e-commerce giant Alibaba made history, launching a shopping experience driven by VR for Singles Day (China’s anti-Valentine’s Day) that netted USD 17.8 billion in transactions: nearly 8 billion more than Black Friday 2015! In 2016 long established Australian retailer Myer worked with ebay create the world’s first online department store. Customers can purchase to their heart’s content using “shopticals”.


Live streaming video will be a major driver for building an audience. Text based content and talking head video will be a thing of the past. In 2016, the US presidential debate was live streamed for the first time, and Facebook and YouTube rolled out live streaming capabilities. IBM’s analysis of digital marketing trends (and a bunch of other articles) highlight it as a main trend for 2017. Whether it be live-streaming an event, product launch or behind-the-scenes look, being creative with live-streaming content will keep your business ahead of the curve next year.


New formats in data visualisation will enable marketers to perceive consumer patterns and key messages in deeper ways. Organisations that upgrade the tools they are using to analyse and predict consumer behaviour will be at a huge advantage. Cloud models for business/data analytics (and data storage/data management) are envisioned to “lead cloud adoption in 2017 and beyond”.


Consumer preference for social media and instant messaging has created a tidal wave that’s sweeping away the use of email. So much so (author, educator and entrepreneur Hamilton points out) that over 90% of customers are now unresponsive to email lists. The future lies in harnessing social media: remarketing and remessaging through Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter; collecting phone numbers and setting up WhatsApp and WeChat groups, taking advantage of the 150 million instant messages sent per minute (and typically these days checked before emails); and/or creating an app for consumers (voice command, AI, VR or mixed reality to jump ahead of the curve).



“Because my self-actualization is faster, smarter and more exclusive than yours”. Trendwatching, 2016.

A Trendwatching report on the global luxury market sees the temporary lull in growth as an opportunity for brands to make an epic shift towards more “varied, complex, individualized, and meaningful forms of luxury consumption”. A key to creating disrupting innovations in this market is understanding the shifting definition of status from ‘what I have’ to ‘who I am’. ‘The Quintessential Self’ is typified by shareable content about taking self-improvement to another level, in a way that people are not yet aware of.


“I literally predict within 4–7 years if you don’t have a true genuine impact in your business you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage” Yanik Silver, Evolved Enterprise.

Sustainability is a major consumer trend amongst predictions for 2017. Trend Watching expects that brands will expand their thinking of sustainability in 2017 to explore Capacity Capture “finding and unlocking exciting new sources of value, or finding creative new ways to eliminate any wasted resource”. Case studies include : Nissan owners selling excess power from electric cars back to the national grid; and the Integrated Waste Exchange (online portal) in Capetown.

Environmentalism. As we all notice the effects of climate in our local environment, environmental sustainability is an ongoing trend. Showing a real commitment to the environment, and positive action (also with local social initiatives) with your brand will take you a long way giving consumers a sense that they are contributing, and also a renewed sense of place. Although Euromonitor pointed out that in marketing products, it is good to keep in mind that consumers are more likely to pay for “good for me” features ie. organic or non-GMO than good for the environment features.


In the current political and economic climate, consumers are looking for stability and solace: “purposeful brands will find renewed opportunities in helping people understand their changing relationship to home — be that their nation, city or neighbourhood”. Trendwatching, breaks this down into the growth of “New global citizens” and “Nation Nurturers”. “New global citizens” such as those represented in the viral Momodo video in which interviewees discovered they were a combination of genes, show that we are all part of a growingly interconnected world and have more in common than we think: we are all just humans trying to do our best on the planet. “Nation nurturers” is typified by campaigns that have a real commitment to the local area — ie. through charity donations to the underprivileged.

Trendwatching’s Global Head of Trends and Insights will be hosting a (free) exclusive webinar on Tuesday 13, December. Sign up and receive insights on game changing trends for 2017. We’ll be there listening in and taking notes too!

Register here.

About Louise Graham:

London-based (for now) Co-Founder The Think Collective. A global network of problem solvers helping entrepreneurs solve their marketing problems in effective and imaginative ways.