THE Media Store’s 2018 Trend Forecast has identified  major changes in interactions between companies, brands and consumers and found many brands are becoming ‘borderless’.

The timbre of the forecast, launched at the recent Brand Forum in Sydney, is that consumers want brands ‘to stand for something that matters’. The forecast also acted as a warning that consumers wanted brands ‘to know there are more social groups than just millennials’. Helen Karabassis.

The Media Store head of research and insights, Helen Karabassis said, “2018 is a year without borders for true leading brands. Consumers expect so much more from the brands they buy from and are a lot more loyal if a brand shares the same values as they do.

“Australians are no longer interested in seeing #soblessed influencers tagging hundreds of brands through sponsored content.

“Consumers have shifted and want their favourite brands to be presented by real humans with real values that they can relate to – aspiration is out, honesty is in.”

With technological advancements the main driver for changing interactions between brands and consumers, The Media Store’s trend forecast has identified the characteristics of the emerging generation of consumers who are driven by their creative instincts and desire to make a difference.

Other insights within the 2018 Trend Forecast include the visual companion to voice technology, creative disintermediation by brands wanting to own the customer relationship, and emerging ‘e-sport’ opportunities.

Ms Karabassis worked with The Media Store’s insights team to identify global shifts in brand marketing and psychology, presenting her learnings to Australian marketing managers via a presentation on the Forecast at this year’s Brand Forum on February 21-22.

“By not pigeon-holing themselves, brands have the opportunity to expand across consumer interests and reach new audiences,” Ms Karabassis said.

The Media Store’s 2018 Trend Forecast includes:

Hyper-personalisation: The perpetually self-monitoring consumer is expecting brands to show they care by personalising the entire customer experience to meet their needs and dreams.

Focus on the Digital Lens: Voice controlled devices are getting eyes to complement their ears. Embedded cameras will become platforms for personalization and ‘point and learn’ search. 

Three’s a crowd: Retailers beware. Static loyalty programs are losing potency and brands are choosing to control the customer relationship directly.

Making a ‘brandstand’: The world is in peak anxiety, so brands will offer consumers a safe haven – even if only to make them feel supported in a complicated world. Peace, diversity and health of the planet will come first.

Native creators: Move over Millennial snowflakes. The next generation of consumers is driven by their creative instincts and the need to make a difference.

Democratised influence: The few gatekeepers will be overtaken by the many micro-influencers as consumers reach peak influencer fatigue. Consumers will be able to tell – and boycott – those brands who work purely in pay-to-play (#spon) influencer space.

Power partnerships: Heritage brands are partnering with start-ups to leverage innovation credentials and capture the attention of consumers who are constantly chasing the new.

E-sports fire up: E-sport leagues offer more than just passionate Millennial males. Loyal, highly engaged communities are mainstreaming and opening up for brands.

AR steps forward: Advances in augmented reality (AR) tech meets the growing proliferation of mobile phones calibrated to supercharge the experience. Fuel creative creators, offer try-before-they-buy reassurance, or use AR to draw a crowd IRL.

Trust in the chain: Bots and fraud are persistent concerns in adland. The transparent, unmodifiable nature of blockchain technology could be the trust tool we’ve been waiting for.

www.themediastore.com.au

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AN AUSTRALIAN beer brewer – branded Broo – has secured what is believed to be the country’s biggest beer deal in China since the original globalisation of Fosters products.

Impressively, Broo Export Pty Ltd has struck a seven-year agreement with the major Chinese supply and distribution company, Jihua, belevied to be worth more than $120 million in aggregated distribution revenue. 

“Jihua’s distribution reach in China will see Broo Premium Lager penetrate the Chinese beer market and expand into a major brand over the coming years,” Broo founder and CEO Kent Grogan said. 

Jihua has agreed to purchase the Broo Premium Lager beer products that are manufactured in China, directly from Broo’s approved Chinese manufacturers, Mr Grogan said. The agreement is binding on a ‘take-or-pay’ basis for 1.5 billion litres of Broo Premium Lager beer products over the seven year period.

Mr Grogan said Jihua has also committed significant upfront marketing and advertising funds to expedite the growth volume of Broo in the first three years of the distribution and Broo has agreed revenue payments for that term can be accrued and paid upon completion of the third year, with payments continuing on a six monthly basis thereafter.

It sounds like an ideal launch formula for the relatively small Australian brewer.

Jihua has interests in a wide variety of industries in China and has established quality supply and distribution channels with major Chinese organisations across multiple market segments, including China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporations (COFCO)  which is China’s largest food processor, manufacturer and trader; China Aerospace, Science and Technology Corporation (CASC); hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience store chains throughout China including Wumei Holdings Inc; restaurant chains including China Quanjude (Group) Co Ltd; and hotel chains including Huatian Hotel Group Co Ltd.

“Our focus is now on continuing discussions in other international markets and domestic expansion,” Mr Grogan said. 

www.broo.com.au

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TEAM MachineGenes, led by artificial intelligence (AI) developer and mathematician Nigel Greenwood, has beaten 624 other international teams to make it to round two of IBM Watson’s XPRIZE.

The IBM Watson XPRIZE is a global competition that challenges teams to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with AI to tackle the world’s challenges.

Dr Greenwood, who is based in Brisbane, has risen to this challenge to show how his new form of AI can be used for many purposes, although he and his team are currently focussing on both helping people with Type 1 diabetes and keeping aviation turbine engines operating at optimal capacity.

“My patented AI can be used for personalised medicine - it can understand how each person is unique and can recommend the best insulin dosage to keep the patient’s blood glucose levels under control,” Dr Greenwood said. 

In silico trials conducted in conjunction with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have demonstrated my technology could be extremely successful in controlling blood glucose levels for people with ‘brittle’ diabetes.

“It has the potential to reduce greatly the risk and severity of hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemic events for people with diabetes.”

The same technology is also being used by Dr Greenwood’s team to demonstrate another world-first capability, for AI to understand the health of aviation engines in a way that is currently impossible.

One of the world’s top-three engine manufacturers was were so impressed by the diabetes work that it has begun part-funding the engine demonstration. While confidential, the arrangement would be with either GE, Rolls-Royce, or Pratt & Whitney.

Dr Greenwood said both medical and engineering work, a key source of frustration is the difficulty in getting suitable investment, with Australian venture capitalists reluctant to invest in deep transformative technologies.

“International recognition of my work is bittersweet as it comes at a time when it appears inevitable that my technology, a globally new kind of AI, will be forced to leave Australia,” Dr Greenwood said.

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE is a four-year competition with annual milestone competitions in 2017 and 2018. The top three finalists will compete for the grand prize of $5 million at TED 2020.

www.machinegenes.com

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Ecozen set up to save the world ‘one pool at a time’
WHEN he graduated from Queensland’s Griffith University, armed with horticultural qualifications and an Environmental Science degree in the 1990s, Sean Lynch knew he wanted to change the way built environments interfaced with the natural world – for the better.

He chose pools as his canvas, figuring he could make a positive impact upon the chemical-laden practices of the time. How right he proved to be, taking a lead in applying new technologies and sustainability practices after he founded Ecozen Pools and Landscapes in 1999. 

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JOINLOX has already quietly started a global revolution in materials joining-technologies. Now the Australian innovator is set to apply its award-winning bio-mimicry systems to a global sector of urgent need: infrastructure built on aged and degrading marine piles.

The significance of Joinlox’s PileJax marine infrastructure system is only now dawning upon government and industry owners of critical infrastructure such as road and rail bridges, ports and wharves. 

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Aussie thongs innovator rebrands as Boomerangz
GOLD COAST-BASED Willi Footwear – whose double-plug thong designs have won acclaim from hundreds of thousands of loyal Australian customers – is re-branding to expand into global markets as ‘Boomerangz’.

The name stems from the boomerang-shaped plugs that are employed to solve an age-old problem that wearers of Australian thongs have dubbed ‘the blowout’ – the strap plugs disengaging through the rubber sole.

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AUSTRALIAN Securities Exchange-listed Medibio Limited has enlisted the world’s most successful Olympic swimmer, American Michael Phelps, to assist in the promotion of its diagnostic products for depression, chronic stress and other mental health disorders.

Since retiring from competitive swimming in 2016, Mr Phelps has actively sought to raise awareness around mental health. He said joining Australian innovator Medibio’s board was a natural next step in his professional journey. 

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