We’ve identified the five technology trends we expect to have a major impact on UK consumers in 2016 – this is not one to miss! Brands should consider building products and developing services and communications around these trends in order to stay fresh, relevant and competitive in their markets….

Power to the people

We have seen companies tackle the delicate issue of privacy, as data has become a prized asset for brands, yet a protected one by consumers. This is an issue set to further develop in 2016 with consumers now more aware and more conscious of sharing their information than ever before. According to Mintel research, 63% of Brits would be interested in using privacy settings on a website to avoid seeing ads that use their personal data.

So, how can brands overcome this issue? Mintel Trend Decline of Deference shows how companies must now respond to consumers’ grievances by behaving less like authority figures and more like partners, promoting open, rather than top-down discussion.

By introducing sophisticated control mechanisms that allow users to set their own advertising preferences, whether it be the type of content displayed, the formats used or the data shared, companies will find that users engage more with advertising as they feel a new sense of empowerment.

Find it for me

The media industry is producing content at a much faster rate than consumers can keep up with, and they can be overwhelmed by choice when deciding what to listen to, read or watch. But companies are responding to this issue. Mintel Trend Guiding Choice shows how some brands are reacting to this by creating tools to help consumers make more educated, individual choices.

One example of the biggest innovations we’ve seen comes from the television/video sector. US-based Pluto TV, a web aggregator service, brings together videos from a range of sources to create interest-specific channels. For example, channels dedicated to celebrity, classical music or extreme sports.

This format could help kick-start mobile viewing, where bite-sized videos are in demand, particularly among those simply wanting to ‘kill time’. According to Mintel research, half of Brits who have watched live or On Demand TV using a smartphone or tablet in the three months to July 2015 only watch TV content on a mobile device when killing time.

Bundle Up

Bundled products and services are likely to become even more commonplace in 2016, as tech and media brands continue to look at ways of delivering a more diverse portfolio in order to reach more people and retain them for longer. The telecoms market is already moving in this direction, with the merger of BT and EE set to create a communications giant covering all four services; fixed-line phones, broadband, TV and mobile. Similarly, Amazon has brought together music, video and e-books under its ‘Prime’ umbrella.

As tech brands strive to bring more people into their ecosystems, one way to develop this further is for those who have an interest in the connected home to offer consumers a ‘smart leasing’ service, whereby they can rent a range of the latest gadgets.

Meanwhile social media and instant messaging apps could branch out by emulating China’s WeChat service – a communications app that also allows people to book doctors’ appointments and pay for anything from cinema tickets to parking fees.

Two become one

The idea of a combined laptop and tablet computer is not a new one. Hybrid devices first popped up when Lenovo unveiled its first laptop with a detachable screen at CES in 2010; however after a sluggish start it appears that manufacturers may be on their way to cracking a new formula.

The hybrid is getting a boost from Apple. Indeed, anytime Apple enters new territory a huge flurry of press attention follows, meaning that its decision to launch the 12.9” iPad Pro with optional keyboard and stylus pen will certainly trigger interest in the hybrid category. This is regardless of the fact that the company is adamant the product is a tablet and not a laptop.

If this, and other improved convertibles are deemed to be a success then we can expect to see a MacBook with a detachable screen before long, perhaps as soon as Fall 2016.

Don’t disrupt me

Online advertisers have long struggled with the dilemma of how to create ads that grab users’ attention without disrupting their experience to the extent to which they alienate and annoy consumers. This can result in ad space owners losing visitors. Indeed, according to Mintel research, two thirds of Brits say they would avoid sites that become overcrowded by advertising.

Most brands now focus not on the volume of ads shown, but instead on ensuring they reach the right person, with the right message and at the right time. Once again the backlash against sharing data is a major stumbling block for brands, however intelligent native ads that look to complement the online experience rather than distract from it are most likely to win consumers over.

So how can brands reach their audience? By using content marketing, brands can actually deliver ads that users want to see, whether it be a sponsored Buzzfeed article, a Twitter poll or an interactive game/video. Consumers will favour ads that provide relevant entertainment, rather than simply clog up their favourite sites and news feeds.

To find out more about what will influencing consumers in 2016, download our European Consumer Trends 2016 free now

Paul Davies is a Senior Leisure and Technology Analyst at Mintel, researching and writing UK consumer technology reports. Prior to joining Mintel in 2012, Paul held marketing roles within the Consumer Electronics sector for retailers such as Comet, as well as manufacturing companies including Binatone Telecom PLC. Paul has been a key speaker at Mintel’s Big Conversation events and has presented at McCann’s Digital 360 conference. He often delivers presentations to Mintel’s multinational clients and regularly provides bespoke insight for digital agencies and media organisation.

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