Digital trends 2022
When preparing my predictions for the digital year ahead, it struck me that, in a way, we are already living in the Metaverse, the most hyped-up theme in internet reporting at the moment. If you look at the time spent online, the global average for 16-64-year olds is around 7 hours per day. That’s pretty much half of our waking hours. And a lot of that time is spent in “hybrid" meetings, as avatars in online games and maintaining our social media personas. So in a way, the added abstraction of a fully immersive VR environment is just adding more sensory experiences to the mix. On to the three megatrends I have chosen to focus on…
Metaverse - new dimensions for business
Facebook has tried to monopolise the metaverse, but there are plenty of big players entering the battleground. Not least Microsoft, with their evolution of the Teams platform into Mesh, a fully VR- enabled collaborative environment. Apple is probably going to release VR glasses this year, and we will be seeing many hardware and cloud service providers stress the need for more processing power, speed and bandwidth. New "spatial audio” formats and even “haptic suits” are being launched, to make the online experience more immersive. What we can take away from this is that consumers are becoming more demanding. Immersive and engaging e-commerce and brand experiences are becoming true differentiators when it comes to consumers’ choices.
Microsoft Mesh, Image: Microsoft
Web3 - users take control
The third iteration of the internet is built on decentralised control and blockchain-verified ownership of digital assets. Cryptocurrencies are becoming more mainstream, with around 10% of the world’s online population owning crypto assets. Non-Fungible Tokens or NFT are shaking up the art world and new collaborative, “headless" brands are emerging. We can expect more buzz and perhaps some truly new developments and innovations on this new frontier. In the meantime, crypto (preferably environmentally-friendly) as payment might become expected for big-ticket e-commerce soon.
Thrift is moving online in a big way. Person-to-person selling of pre-owned goods via social media and marketplaces has exploded during the pandemic. We’re also seeing major investments in second-hand fashion platforms like Sellpy and luxury goods re-retailers such as Vestiaire Collective. Many brands are featuring pre-owned apparel on their online channels and Zalando are offering a neat solution to buy back clothing sold on their online marketplace. Why this trend is relevant? Because sustainability and value for money are really important for today’s consumers, not only for Generation Z.
5 Quick Snaps
To finish, here are 5 quick observations that I believe will be important during the year ahead:
- The Digital Services Act, designed to protect the rights of EU citizens online, has been passed by the European Parliament
- Femtech, wealthtech, yestertech and agritech are recent examples from the flood of tech startup categories - what next?
- Smart logistics and climate-conscious delivery methods will be in sharp focus during 2022 in the wake of a surge in e-commerce volume
- Chat Commerce is becoming more popular, enabling more personal, guided buying journeys
- Dreamtech - or subliminal advertising when you sleep - might become more mainstream, but the ethics and legislation are unclear
David Aler/Digital Strateg