6 Digital Trends Which Are Shaping Marketing & Consumer Life in 2022
By Varun Bodhi
As we are in the midst of 2022, several digital and technology trends have emerged, and some which were on the rise have now solidified themselves as mainstays. These trends have a profound impact on marketing, consumer life and business development.
Businesses have pivoted their strategies more than we've ever seen. Covid-19's impact on how people interact with others, and new consumer purchasing behaviour as they settle into their new normal has created an unknown environment.
The digital transformational trend of businesses making a heavy shift into the online world created a very saturated market. Businesses which had already placed an emphasis on their online marketing and presence had thrived in this landscape, while others formulated new strategies to cater for their evolving customers' needs.
The biggest takeaway from 2021 is that the digital world is only going to continue to grow and shape the way we live, work and play. Some may be temporary and others may last for decades, however what's most important is recognising what the current digital trends are and why they are succeeding.
The Metaverse: Digital Twins
The Metaverse is a term used to describe the virtual world which people can enter and interact with others in a realistic way. This world is made up of digital twins, which are computer-generated models of real-world objects or people.
Digital twins are created using data collected from the internet of things (IoT) devices, sensors and software. This data is then used to create a virtual replica or model of the object or person.
Although still developing the metaverse has already made leaps and bounds from it's early days and has many marketers wondering what this means for them. According to research from McKinsey, there are three primary deliverables from the metaverse:
Shorten the Production Phase
While other businesses are building infrastructure, manually testing products and creating tangible designs, the metaverse allows for a product/service to reach the market at an accelerated pace.
By utilising the metaverse's virtualisation and virtual engineering capabilities, products can be designed and created at a faster rate.
Better products & enhanced services
Before a product or service reaches physical testing in the real-world, the metaverse can enable businesses to run it through performance simulations as their first phase of testing.
Everything is cheaper
In a world where physical material isn't needed and digital twins can be used in place of them, the operating costs for businesses will be reduced. As a result, revenue may increase and product/service performance is enhanced.
The Consumer Perspective
Other than observing the metaverse from the lens of a business perspective, there's also the consumer factor.
One of the biggest changes that Covid brought in consumers was the desire for heavily experience driven products, and the metaverse is the key to that lock. As consumers began to value their health and happiness more in the midst of Covid, businesses which found a way to deliver this in a safe environment became the favourite.
Unique experiences as people engage with the visual world and create memories by doing things they otherwise may not be able to do, makes the metaverse, VR and augmented reality, a very appealing technology trend and one that's here to stay.
QR Codes: Digital Story Telling
Gone are the days where brands can talk about themselves and expect consumers to find it interesting. Although certainly not a new technology, QR codes are becoming a great tool for story telling the crucial information to consumers of "Why should I care?" and "How does your product enter my story?", note, the consumer should always be the main character of the marketing approach.
Several FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods) brands have implemented this approach by adding a small QR code on their product, especially with the advent of sustainability in products becoming a large movement, making story telling a pivotal tool.
Whether it's the story to sustainable packaging, regenerative practices or an effort to reach a zero carbon footprint, a story which highlights how the consumer can be part of a solution is far more likely to result in engagement if they are your target audience.
Why Consumers Care
Digital trends which cater for people makes them feel valued, and that's a trait that everyone seeks. When consumers recognise that a brand aligns with their own values and unbeknownst to them, it targets their psychological needs and wants, our interest becomes peaked.
In a market where there are at least 100 brands for any type of product, people want to know how a product/service adds to their story, which will become one of the deciding factors when making a purchase.
NFTs: 2022's Biggest Craze
Everyone who is active within the digital realm has heard of NFTs, but for those who need to catch up on the digital trends, here's a quick breakdown:
A NFT is a non-fungible token which represents a digital asset that is unique and cannot be replaced. This means that an NFT can be used to represent anything from a piece of digital art, to a video, or even a tweet!
NFTs are digital assets which are stored on a blockchain, the same technology that powers cryptocurrencies. They are unique, cannot be replicated and have been increasing in popularity, with sales reaching $250 million in the last month of 2020.
The most popular use cases for NFTs have been in gaming and collectibles, with people buying virtual assets such as in-game items, art and even music. The key characteristic that sets NFTs apart from other digital assets is that they are not interchangeable – each NFT is one-of-a-kind.
This makes them incredibly valuable, with some of the most expensive NFTs selling from anywhere between $7.6 million to $91.8 million - the prices themselves are a clear indication that NFTs are here to stay and will only continue to grow in popularity.
What's interesting about NFTs is that they are not just used for buying and selling digital assets, but can also be used to represent physical objects. For example, an NFT could be used to represent a ticket to a concert or a seat in a stadium.
Currently, marketers have been testing NFTs to address a range of goals including brand awareness, customer loyalty and creating more engagement.
All of this makes the NFT one of the most significant digital trends in 2022.
Cryptocurrency: The Acceleration of Digital Money
Cryptocurrency is a digital asset that uses cryptography to secure its transactions and to control the creation of new units. Cryptocurrency is decentralised, which means it isn't subject to government or financial institution control.
Bitcoin, the first and most well-known cryptocurrency, was created in 2009. Since then, thousands of different cryptocurrencies have been created with various purposes and functions. Although cryptocurrency has been around for a while, as of 2022, more people are becoming familiar and knowledgeable on the topic, which is the driving force behind its popularity as a digital trend in 2022.
Cryptocurrencies are often traded on decentralised exchanges and can also be used to purchase goods and services. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of businesses that accept cryptocurrency as payment, including Microsoft, AT&T and Overstock.com.
There are a few reasons behind cryptocurrency's popularity as a digital trend in 2022.
Firstly, as the world becomes more digitised, it is only natural that money would follow suit and become digital as well. Secondly, cryptocurrency is seen as an alternative to traditional fiat currency and is not subject to government control or inflation. Lastly, cryptocurrency is seen as a more secure form of payment as it uses blockchain technology, which makes it incredibly difficult to counterfeit.
This digital trend has arisen as people become more conscious of their data and privacy. Privacy-enhancing computation aims to address these complications be enable the sharing of data across ecosystem, whilst still maintaining privacy.
There are a few ways in which privacy-enhancing computation can be used. One way is through secure multi-party computation, which allows multiple parties to jointly compute a function over their inputs while keeping those inputs private. Another way is zero-knowledge proofs, which allow someone to prove that they know something without revealing what that thing is.
This digital trend is significant as it has the potential to change the way we share and use data. By keeping data private, we can prevent companies from using our data for their own gain and instead, use it to benefit us as individuals. According to technological research firm Gartner, by 2025 around 60 percent of large organisations will utilise one or more privacy-enhancing computation techniques.
In general, people find this to be valuable as invasive cookies has become concerning and large companies such as Apple have also introduced methods to tackle this.
Simply put, third-party tracking cookies are expected to phase out and brands need to implement methods which can collect data which prioritises consumer privacy.
Although gaming is not a new trend, there are trends within gaming which are effecting the general population - marking itself as one of the growing digital trends in 2022.
Immersive gaming as a genre has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, linking back to the prior point established: consumers are seeking experience driven products which add value to life. According to Deloitte, a large amount of US, UK and Asia located gamers find immersive games relaxing, creates new connections, allows for self-expression and satisfies emotional needs.
Games which are heavily story-driven and allow for player agency are some of the most popular games on the market. Games such as The Witcher III, Red Dead Redemption II and Mass Effect: Andromeda have all been critical and commercial successes.
The primary take away from all of the listed digital trends are value, experience and making the consumer the focus. Through these six trends, there is a clear theme between consumers seeking personalisation and happiness after a pandemic lifestyle changing experience.