By Sue Cardwell @tuesdaysue
1. Bleeding veggie burgers
Vegetarianism has come a long way since the peace-love-and-mung-beans era, thanks to campaigns like #MeatfreeMondays helping people to reduce their meat consumption rather than making it an all-or-nothing choice.
For those of us who’d like to cut back but can’t imagine a burger minus beef, good news! Technology is transforming meat-free meals once more - enter the bleeding veggie burger. It tastes like beef, it “bleeds” like beef, it’s getting lots of attention and investment, and it’s already available - if only in one restaurant in New York for now. Can a perfectly beefy veggie burger win over meat addicts?
2. Cyclists, represent!
Amsterdam is appointing a bike mayor - and exporting the concept worldwide. The bike mayor is the go-between for authorities and ordinary cyclists. Candidates can nominate themselves with a short video, and the mayor is then selected by a combination of public vote and expert jury.
Giving cyclists an official mouthpiece - albeit without executive powers - is an intriguing concept that we can imagine being used in other contexts. The Atlantic describes it as “the birth of an interesting new category of city-fixer: a quasi-official who both lobbies for a particular group and manages this group’s relations with the city and public.”
3. Olympic-scale advertising
When a brand decides to sponsor Olympians, it brings out the best for its campaign. This is where the best and most ground-breaking advertising can be spotted. So what was the big trend in these Olympics? Make us feel part of it.
Several brands chose to humanise the athletes’ lives, drawing parallels between our own experiences and their journeys. Consider Procter & Gamble’s "Thank You Mom", Coca-Cola’s #ThatsGold, and Virgin’s #BeTheFastest, which excites us with Usain Bolt explaining what 9.58 seconds of victory feels like.
But my favourite two campaigns were even more involving. Panasonic’s #Superfans made Brits feel wonderful for supporting Team GB. Under Armour helps us all feel like we’re gunning for gold via the MapMyFitness app and their message “It's what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”
4. Alternative data sources
Market researchers are long familiar with measuring one thing as a proxy for another: advocacy as a proxy for loyal behaviour, customer satisfaction as a proxy for quality of service… So we’ll be intrigued by some of these proxy data sources using satellite imagery.
See how studying farmland or industrial areas predicts productivity better than government stats - or indeed, how these images can provide a measure in regions where government stats are hard to come by. Fullness of carparks outside big retailers is actually a pretty good measure of how they’re performing - invaluable to investors. Fascinating.
5. AI detects depression better than doctors
In a related, but more poignant example, our social media postings are a good proxy for our mental health. It’s not new to hear that machines perform better than people at detecting diseases like cancer. Innovative thinkers have now shown that they can detect depression better than doctors analysing the pictures we post online - when we’re depressed, our posts tend to be “bluer, grayer and darker.”
Machine learning also helps diagnose schizophrenia. A cellphone voice recording during a consultation gets analysed for its language ‘tics’ to diagnose schizophrenia much quicker - and track progress over time.
About the author
Coming from a background in marketing and market research, Sue Cardwell now looks after customer data and insight at Fidelity Life Assurance Limited. “5 trends” is her regular contribution to InterVIEW. Sue helped relaunch InterVIEW in 2011, but is now happy to have handed the magazine on to fresh talent. She loves to hear your comments - tell her what you think with a tweet to @tuesdaysue.