Five trends driving transformative change in the next decade

01 November 2023 Consultancy-me.com 4 min. read
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Accenture has released the 2024-edition of its ‘Life Trends’ report, an annual exploration into the foremost trends shaping economy, society, and people in the next decade. A round-up of the five key trends.

The customer love

For years, the correlation between customer experience and revenue growth inspired organizations to hold the customer at the center of every decision. Now, economic considerations are forcing cuts at enterprises, driving friction between customers and brands across channels – in the form of price increases, reduced quality, an avalanche of subscriptions and poor customer service.

Nearly half of customers feel less valued when facing difficulty reaching or talking to unsupportive customer service.

Five trends driving transformative change in the next decade

Quality or size reductions (‘shrinkflation’), declines in service (‘skimpflation’), customer service shortcomings and unwelcome subscriptions are adding up to a sense that brands are quietly reversing on their promises. At the center of this trend is a critical perception problem: where companies see actions for survival, some customers see greed.

The great interface shift

With 77% of people familiar with conversational AI, this is a technology with mass cultural awareness. Generative AI [a $.4.4 trillion opportunity] is upgrading people’s experience of the internet from transactional to personal; large language models (LLMs) are being used to stage intelligent, two-way conversations, giving people solutions to “I want to” queries, rather than simply “I want a” requests.

Nearly half (42%) of consumers would be comfortable using conversational AI like ChatGPT for product recommendations, completing tasks at work (44%) and wellness and healthcare advice (33%). This technology will eventually change most of the interfaces we use. Brands will try to use that understanding to shape hyper-relevant products, services and experiences, while smart brands will go beyond, into responsive brand development.

Meh-diocrity

The chief aim of creativity used to be inspiring an emotional response through imagination and human connection. Now that algorithms and tech often sit between creator and audience, it’s become about playing the game or risking going undiscovered, which is influencing the end product – sometimes for the worse. In entertainment, consumers are being fed a constant diet of film and franchise extensions.

Broadly, 35% of respondents feel app designs are indistinguishable across brands, a sentiment that rises to nearly 40% among 18-24-year-olds. A period of cultural stagnation appears to be arriving.

This mediocrity challenge isn’t going to solve itself and might even get worse as generative AI becomes a bigger player in creative processes. Savvy businesses will see opportunity here: in a sea of familiarity, originality will always stand out – as will investing in creative talent.

Going human in a tech-era

People’s relationship with technology is at a critical juncture. Nearly a third of consumers say that technology has complicated their lives just as much as it has simplified it. Tech feels like something that happens to them rather than for them, demanding too much and often failing to make a positive impact on well-being.

31% percent say constant notifications control their use of personal tech; 27% say it’s algorithms, while another 27% say it’s the draw of the endless scroll. In response, consumers are tightening the reins on their tech use: a third are removing notifications, one in five are putting on screen time limits and a quarter are removing apps and devices altogether. This tension points to technology draining people’s resources and their desire to put their well-being first.

Organizations must be thoughtful about how their use of technology will fit in to people’s lives and what it will demand of them. Time? New skills? Brands that offer people greater choice in how they use (or don’t use) technology to interact with will become trusted partners, because customers will be able to regain a much-needed sense of agency.

Decade of deconstruction

Traditional life paths are being rerouted by new limitations, necessities and opportunities, significantly shifting demographics. People are challenging long-standing ideas, and shaping new ways of thinking, acting and living. It feels like a decade of deconstruction is beginning, and the impact on systems and services will be far-reaching.

For example, people are now living life less than one year at a time – 48% make plans for their lives less than 12 months ahead, or don’t plan at all. In the past three years, we’ve also seen a drop in the value placed on traditional milestones including marriage (from 30% to 21%), graduating from college (from 30% to 24%) and moving out of the parental home (23% to 17%).

These new mindsets will trigger different perspectives on products and services. Businesses that fluidly adapt, craft seamless experiences that challenge norms and support people’s unique paths will remain relevant to the evolving consumer.

The study

For its research, Accenture surveyed over 15,000 respondents across 21 countries. The firm also crowdsourced insights from within its own ranks, tapping into the views of consultants, economists, designers, creatives, technologists, sociologists and anthropologists.