THE IN­FLU­ENCE OF THE ‘AGE OF AC­CEL­ER­A­TION’

New Zealand Marketing - - Bauer Media -

Me­dia typ­i­cally aims to re­flect re­al­ity. But it can also in­flu­ence it. In the in­ter­ests of bet­ter un­der­stand­ing the su­per­nova of tech­no­log­i­cal change and glob­al­i­sa­tion, Bauer’s re­search di­vi­sion In­sights IQ, has been ex­am­in­ing how New Zealan­ders are re­spond­ing to this un­prece­dented pace of change – and as Erin Mcken­zie finds, it ap­pears ki­wis are feel­ing pretty over­whelmed.

Take a sec­ond to think about your child­hood and the tech­nol­ogy that was part of your ev­ery­day life. Now fast­for­ward to to­day. How have things changed?

If you’re think­ing a lot, you’re not alone. Ray Kurzweil, di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing at Google, summed it up when he said “be­cause of the ex­plo­sive power of ex­po­nen­tial growth, the twenty-first cen­tury will be equiv­a­lent to 20,000 years of progress at to­day’s rate of change”.

It’s an ex­cit­ing time, but the cur­rent chal­lenge lies in

the gap that ex­ists be­tween hu­man adapt­abil­ity and tech­nol­ogy ad­vance­ment

– we feel out of con­trol be­cause we can’t adapt to the world as fast as it’s chang­ing.

Want­ing to ex­plore how New Zealan­ders feel about these changes, Bauer’s In­sights IQ team tapped into the minds of 1,600 Ki­wis, gen­er­at­ing nearly 500 hours of re­search data to sup­port their Thriv­ing in the Age of Ac­cel­er­a­tion project. It’s a sig­nif­i­cant piece of re­search in which re­spon­dents were asked to share their thoughts on the pace of change and how this is im­pact­ing so­ci­ety over­all, how they’re adapt­ing to new tech­nol­ogy, the im­por­tance of com­mu­nity, changes in busi­ness and the work­place, and their feel­ings to­wards the fu­ture.

TAK­ING A CLOSER LOOK

It all started last year when Julie Bram­ley, lead at Bauer’s re­search di­vi­sion In­sights IQ, read Thank You for Be­ing Late: An Op­ti­mist’s Guide to Thriv­ing in the Age of Ac­cel­er­a­tions by Thomas L Fried­man. It gave her con­text and per­spec­tive about the im­pact of the fast-paced world we live in, while also giv­ing her de­tails about the tech­nol­ogy tsunami we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and a new-found con­fi­dence around tech­nol­ogy.

“It has in­spired and pro­pelled me to get out of my com­fort zone and start talk­ing about how to nav­i­gate the pace of change with our clients,” she says, adding the most sur­pris­ing find from its re­search was learn­ing that 78 per­cent of New Zealan­ders be­lieved that we are liv­ing in a time of un­prece­dented change. “I knew we were onto some­thing.”

Also in­ter­est­ing to note is that the sen­ti­ment is not re­lated to age or tech­nol­ogy abil­ity as one might as­sume. The find­ings show lit­tle dif­fer­ence across gen­er­a­tions and while fe­males feel slightly more af­fected by the pace of change, they don’t dif­fer too far from how ev­ery­one else feels.

58 per­cent of all New Zealan­ders say they don’t know who or what to trust these days and driv­ing the feel­ings of mis­trust are so­cial me­dia, politi­cians, fake news and is­sues with big data. As one male re­spon­dent so suc­cinctly said: “I only trust my own fam­ily.” With is­sues around big data and the pace of change it’s also not sur­pris­ing that 57 per­cent are yearn­ing for a sim­pler life, which is also fairly con­sis­tent across all gen­er­a­tions. And as an­other male re­spon­dent com­mented: “It just makes you wish for per­haps a sim­pler time with less de­vices or screens in my life, and not hav­ing to worry about not be­ing on Face­book for a few days or get­ting asked “why didn’t you re­spond to my Fb/what­sapp/snapchat within three min­utes.”

This no­tion that New Zealan­ders are af­ter a sim­pler life was sup­ported by Barnes, Cat­mur & Friends Dentsu founder and part­ner Daniel Barnes. As part of the re­search, Bauer col­lab­o­rated with key agency strate­gists who shared their take on the fast pace of change and, for Barnes, it is con­sis­tency over time that is a

nat­u­ral hall­mark of trust.

“Brands that keep try­ing to move and chase the con­sumers all the time are ac­tu­ally un­der­min­ing their own foun­da­tions … Just be­cause some­thing is wide­spread and ev­ery­one uses it, doesn’t mean I trust it. It means it’s eas­ier to ac­cess,” says Barnes.

On a sim­i­lar note, NZ Lis­tener ed­i­tor Pamela Stir­ling points out that so­cial me­dia, for ex­am­ple Twit­ter, has given the likes of pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump the abil­ity to speak di­rectly to his fol­low­ers. With that in mind, she says its im­por­tant me­dia re­mains on his case and keeps guard by ques­tion­ing the govern­ment.

“Peo­ple are all over the place on is­sues now and they re­ally want to make up their own mind on trusted, cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion,” she says, point­ing out how the likes of NZ Lis­tener, which has been around since 1939, has had years to prove its in­tegrity.

CHANG­ING CON­SUMER MIND­SETS

The pace of change and the way au­di­ences are nav­i­gat­ing it has re­sulted in some new con­sumer trends, which Bauer’s re­search iden­ti­fied as ‘the united states of anx­i­ety’, ‘a mind­ful way of life’, ‘fe­male em­pow­er­ment’, ‘DNA de­code’, ‘bor­rower’ and ‘con­scious shop­pers’.

The first two of those trends have been ex­plored fur­ther in the re­search and it found 35 per­cent of New Zealan­ders feel­ing more stressed than ever be­fore – a trend that in­creased with the younger gen­er­a­tions.

Across all ages, it was Gen­er­a­tion Y (59 per­cent) and Gen­er­a­tion Z (63 per­cent) that agreed most with the state­ment ‘I often feel anx­ious’.

One spe­cific cause of anx­i­ety is ro­bots, which pose as both an op­por­tu­nity and a threat. In the study, 54 per­cent of New Zealan­ders agreed that ro­bots will even­tu­ally take over most man­ual jobs.

The sec­ond trend, ‘a mind­ful way of life’ was high­lighted in the find­ing that 55 per­cent of New Zealan­ders make sure they find time to be ‘un­plugged’ and com­pletely away from tech­nol­ogy.

PHD group strat­egy di­rec­tor Si­mon Bird touched on the over­whelm­ing na­ture of the rise of tech­nol­ogy when shar­ing his thoughts about the pace of change.

He says VR and AR have been mas­sively overblown, much like 3D TVS and Google Glass, be­cause while they’re tech­no­log­i­cally in­ter­est­ing they do not solve a prob­lem for ev­ery­day peo­ple.

But what he does see hav­ing stick­a­bil­ity through the change is voice-driven tech­nol­ogy.

“Voice will be­cause it’s much more nat­u­ral for us to talk than it is to type. 100 per­cent that will be the big­gest deal in the next while.”

But be­fore it gets there, Bird points out there are things to work through, like brands fig­ur­ing out what they sound like on top of what they look like.

Founder of Cir­cu­lar­ity, Louise Nash, has a so­lu­tion for brands look­ing for ways to in­cor­po­rate tech­nol­ogy into their mix with­out adding to the clut­ter. She thinks the rapid pace of change has opened up an op­por­tu­nity for brands to go be­yond the con­straints of the prod­uct’s pack­age to cre­ate a sup­port­ing ser­vice or of­fer­ing for cus­tomers.

“If you have a well­ness prod­uct, why don’t you cre­ate yoga classes be­side it? Why don’t you cre­ate a med­i­ta­tion app and us­ing tech­nol­ogy in that way to cap­ture new oc­ca­sions, cap­ture new con­sumers?”

From a con­sumer’s per­spec­tive, hav­ing tech­nol­ogy that of­fers a ser­vice, rather than just an­other screen in their lives can help break the anx­i­ety cur­rently as­so­ci­ated with the pace of change.

SERV­ING CLIENTS AND AU­DI­ENCES

“The goal of the Age of Ac­cel­er­a­tion re­search is to build bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and an­tic­i­pate what’s im­por­tant to au­di­ences al­low­ing Bauer to de­liver mar­ket-lead­ing so­lu­tions to clients,” ex­plains Kay­lene Hur­ley, com­mer­cial di­rec­tor at Bauer.

“Our fo­cus in 2018 is to pro­vide end to end con­tent so­lu­tions, backed by the best in­sight and cre­ative ideas in com­bi­na­tion with our edi­to­rial ex­perts,” “To lead this strat­egy, we have the Me­dia Col­lec­tive our com­mer­cial con­tent ex­perts, who cre­ate amaz­ing in­te­grated cam­paigns.”

The next project for the In­sights IQ team will be re­search on how New Zealan­ders live, how they eat, work, learn, love, and play. Each mod­ule will be in­sight-led and have an edi­to­rial com­po­nent rel­e­vant for brands.

“We think it’s vi­tal to know and un­der­stand con­sumers bet­ter than any­one else to help our ad­ver­tis­ers tap into the en­gaged per­sonal re­la­tion­ship our brands have with their au­di­ences,” she says. “This en­gage­ment is driven by rel­e­vance and trust, and in to­day’s frag­mented land­scape, these val­ues are im­por­tant than ever.

“Each day we strive to build trust in our brands, and Bauer will con­tinue to fo­cus on build­ing au­di­ences across new plat­forms and driv­ing en­gage­ment through rich con­tent.”

To hear more of what Barnes, Stir­ling and Bird have to say about the Age of Ac­cel­er­a­tion, watch their full in­ter­views here: https://youtu.be/gjp­pao5i2-s

Julie Bram­ley

Kay­lene Hur­ley

Daniel Barnes

Pamela Stir­ling

Si­mon Bird

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