2017 Consumer trends and the opportunities for HR

Last week David Mattin, the global head of Trends & Insights of TrendWatching.com gave a briefing on some of the major consumer trends for 2017. Very insightful and very inspiring. TrendWatching uses a framework with 16 major consumer mega trends.

consumer trends

In his briefing Peter focused on five areas, and he specified some specific trends in these domains. In this article I like to give some thoughts to the possible implications for HR.

1. The Virtual Experience Economy

“In 2017, a shift years in the making finally becomes a reality, as digital experience (including AR/VR) become real status currency for millions of consumers”.

This is clearly an area with big opportunities for HR. Status is important for people, and your status is less determined by your car and house, but more by unique experiences you can communicate about. And these experiences can be virtual experiences. In our article “10 HR Trends for 2017” consumerisation is number one on the list. How can you give your candidates and your employees a unique experience? Many organisations have experience in this area. We have seen many business courses and online games to attract applicants. Using AR/VR in the HR domain is still early days, but we can expect many developments in 2017.

2. Capacity Capture

“In 2017 consumers will embrace brands that capture idle capacity and claim lost value from wasted resources, all for the good of society and the planet”.

In many organisations there is plenty of idle capacity. The potential of most people is under-utilised (read: “10 ways to unleash some potential“). Again a big opportunity for HR. How can organisations find ways to use the potential of their people, preferably for the good of society and the planet? It might be useful to revitalise some of the established practices in this area, like allowing staff to work on social projects for a couple of days per year and like creating an internal market for interesting assignments where employees can work on part-time.

3. Incognito Individuals

“In 2017, consumers will embrace new tools, services and platforms that strip away the identity imposed on them by demographic circumstance”.

In the presentation of TrendWatching an interesting example in the HR domain is mentioned: Interviewing.io, a platform that offers organisations and candidates the opportunity for unbiased interviewing. The quality of recruitment and selection can certainly be increased by using tools that hide candidate characteristics that are not relevant.  Employee mood measurement is another area where collecting anonymous feedback is possible (read: “Employee Mood Measurement Trends“).

4. Big Brother Brands

“In 2017 consumers are going to embrace brands that are able to intelligently watch them, intelligently soak up lots of diverse kinds of information about them and use that to deliver incredibly useful and incredibly personal services”.

This is a big opportunity for HR. Where are the organisations that “intelligently watches employees, intelligently soaks up lots of diverse kind of information about them and uses that to deliver incredibly useful and incredibly personal employee experiences”? Good people analytics is a necessary condition to make progress in this area. The opportunities are great, it is time HR uses them to increase their impact.

5. Worlds Apart

“In 2017, empower new global citizens who want to remain open and connected to the world, or nation nurturers who want to focus on their loyalty”.

I find it more difficult to make a translation of this area from the consumer to the HR domain. Of course segmentation is important: make sure you target the right people when you are looking for global citizens to work in a multinational company. Or use your strong local profile to attract candidates of the second group (the ‘nation nurturers’).

Food for thought. The five 2017 trends only touch five of the mega trends as defined by TrendWatching. The other 11 mega trends also contain many trends with opportunities for HR.

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