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Every week we bring you the FreshMinds Friday picks – ideas to help you make the most of digital technologies and understand how they are helping brands to grow and innovate. This week we’re looking at the top 5 trends to watch in 2014 including the collaborative economy, wearable tech, personalisation,  consumer privacy concerns and adopting lean start-up principles.

The collaborative economy

The collaborative economy was one of last year’s hot topics with companies such as TaskRabbit and Zipcar harnessing the power of the crowd to develop new, high growth business models, disrupting well-established companies in the process. In December, it became apparent that learning how to make the most of the collaborative economy will be a top strategic priority for global brands in 2014, with 24 of the world’s biggest businesses joining the Brand Council of Crowd Companies for this very purpose. With this in mind, we predict 2014 will be the year that this phenomenon goes mainstream, with start-ups and super brands alike working with consumers and developing new business models as they seek to tap into the collaborative economy.

Wearable technology

Wearable tech exploded in 2013 with devices like the Nike FuelBand becoming popular amongst consumers. This looks set to continue in 2014 if the vast numbers of wearable devices showcased at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show is anything to go by. Growth in the area is an exciting development for marketers and market researchers alike. With consumers tracking information on almost every aspect of their everyday lives, they’re creating a phenomenal amount of behavioural data. This is an extremely valuable source of insight which will allow brands to understand more about their consumers than ever before, especially when used in conjunction with more traditional sources of insight.

Personalisation

Thanks to the rapid growth in social and mobile technologies, marketers now know more about their consumers than ever before, enabling them to personalise both their products and marketing to specific groups. New technology looks set to accelerate this trend in 2014. Take the growing popularity of 3D printers that are helping brands develop more personalised goods or Apple’s new iBeacon technology that will enable companies to send customers targeted messages based on their location within store. Could 2014 be the year that we finally say goodbye to mass marketing and welcome in the ‘segment of one’?

Privacy lock down

As technology evolves and provides new opportunities for brands, consumers are starting to realise just how much data they’re producing and the immense value of this information to businesses.  Against this backdrop it’s no coincidence that SnapChat, a social network that allows users to send messages that once read, self-destruct never to be seen again, has undergone a meteoric rise. Consumers are making a conscious effort to limit their data exhaust and in 2014, this is likely to go further with data lockers appearing that give consumers greater control over which companies have access to their data.  This throws up some serious questions for brands. If some consumers are limiting the data they provide, how representative is the information held in the CRM system? And how do you understand more about and reach those who have made a conscious decision to lock down on the data they share?

Lean, mean business machine

The success enjoyed by companies such as Dropbox and Airbnb in 2013 popularised the lean-start up approach developed by Eric Ries (picked as one of our five thought leaders shaping the future of market research.) Companies harnessing this methodology have gone from strength to strength, growing at an incredible rate and providing stiff competition for well established businesses less agile at innovation. This cannot have not gone unnoticed by global brands and in 2014, we predict we’ll see more large companies adopting a test-measure-learn approach and applying other elements of the lean start up philosophy to areas of their businesses in order to keep up with emerging rivals.

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