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Understanding the latest marketing and consumer trends will allow you to stay relevant, keep ahead of your competitors and create marketing campaigns that will really resonate with your audience.

According to Trendwatching, there are five important marketing trends we need to look out for. While you might have already heard of some of them, there are one or two that will probably be a little unfamiliar.

1. Virtual experiences. We are heading from the world of the physical experience into the uncharted territory of the virtual experience. This means we’re going to see a lot more augmented reality, virtual reality and virtual experiences in the not too distant future. Virtual experiences are unique because they do away with traditional barriers of cost, accessibility and personal ability and allow people access to a whole range of different experiences that would be out of their reach before.

2. Worlds apart: The world is going through some tumultuous times and for some this means breaking down global barriers, while for others it means turning more towards the familiar within their country and community. The best way to make use of this trend is by helping to build connections between people, either at a national or a global level. It’s all about taking positive action to bring people together, and counteract the divisive forces that are at work. Think about how your brand could encourage greater bonds within a local community, or highlight the things people of different backgrounds and cultures have in common.

3. Anonymity: Over the past few years we’ve had the rise of social media and seen everything become publicly accessible over the Internet. Now the inevitable backlash is coming our way with an increase in the value of anonymity both as a way to combat discrimination and safeguard privacy online. Really this trend is about being treated fairly and as a brand it’s worth thinking about how you can ensure the anonymity of your customers or users so nobody is disadvantaged or discriminated against.

4. Maximising resources: Environmental sustainability and lack of wastage are a big focus for today’s consumers and much of the trend towards the sharing economy comes from the desire to reduce consumption and wastage. This is going to continue in 2017 as brands focus on ways they can eliminate wasted resources and unlock new sources of value. This is a strategy that all brands can adopt by promoting maximisation of resources and avoiding unnecessary wastage.

5. Extreme personalisation: Termed Big Brother Brands by Trendwatching, the personalisation trend is set to go to the extreme but not in a creepy way. Intelligent assistants like Siri and Cortana are set to grow and voice activated technology will be used for a multitude of different uses. In the future it’s very possible that our homes could be run using voice technology and personal robots could be the next wave of virtual assistants.

Like it or not the future is upon us and this means embracing the latest trends. If you want your business to grow, it’s worth sitting down now and thinking about how you can adapt the latest developments and technology into your brand to increase your appeal and be more relevant to your customers.