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Is Being Random a Trend Worth Watching?

The end of the year is packed with posts that look back over what’s transpired and an equal number of pundits who project what the future will hold.

Both have their place…but often times, they’re both based on the writer’s bias and opinions. That’s what I like about the work JWT does every year to produce their annual trends report.

With ample empirical data gathered through quantitative surveys conducted throughout the year, subject matter experts, influencers, and JWT’s own work in the market — they go on to produce an annual report that looks at the top ten emerging trends which they believe will have the most impact on the upcoming year.

I find their report insightful and ”spot on” accurate when I look back at the past few years and what they accurately identified as trends worth watching. So I was delighted to get a sneak peek at this year’s thinking (The full report is available for $250 at www.JWTIntelligence.com.).

Being Random as a Trend

One of the trends that really caught my attention is titled Reengineering Randomness. The idea behind it is that because of the information overload and the algorithm driven life we lead, we’re all beginning to hunger for a little more surprise and serendipity in our lives. Think of it as the polar opposite of the hyper personalization that most social media networks and Websites are trying to deliver to us. Sites are constantly suggesting the next choice or option, based on the last choice or option. This trend says we want an escape from that predictability now and again.

Being Random - Trends

One of the manifestations of this trend, according to the report is the LivingSocial Taxi. The service positions its daily deals as a way to inject something new and different into everyday life, promising that its local deals ”drive you to surprising and delightful experiences.”

To illustrate the idea, a promotion in London gave passengers who hailed a specially outfitted cab the choice to be taken to their intended destination or to ”roll the die” and win a LivingSocial experience. Those who agreed found themselves suddenly taking a pole dancing class or getting a fish pedicure, among other activities. Check out the YouTube video of what this taxi’s been up to:

So what does this mean for us? A couple things worth noting, I believe.

Be mindful of not being overly prescriptive:

While people do appreciate your learning more about them so you can be more helpful and filter out the news and noise that doesn’t pertain to them, they also don’t want to be dictated to. Build in some randomness or an element of surprise as you work with customers to create an experience that feels both tailor made for them but also has some whimsy woven in.

Figure out where you could be the surprise:

  • Is there a business you could partner with — where you could be that element of surprise?
  • How and where could you show up that would be both completely unexpected and completely welcomed?
  • Is this a path to new customers or, at the very least, new influencers who have suddenly been given a gem of a story to tell about you?

The message:

I think the message underlying this trend is that while we appreciate the convenience and connectedness that the online world with its algorithms and laser-like accuracy, we don’t really want to be all that predictable or just part of an elaborate software program.

We want spontaneity, surprise, and, most of all — we want to be recognized and treated as a real person — who doesn’t always want to read, eat, listen to, or watch something just like the one we just consumed.

We want brands and social networks to realize we’re human. And there’s nothing too predictable about that!

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