At South by Southwest this year Rohit Bhargava spoke about some of the non-obvious trends for 2018 that his company identified. You can see the full list of 2018 and past trends on the company’s website. Two that caught my eye were Human Mode and Lovable Unperfection.
Human mode is the pendulum swinging away from pure digital automation. Sure sometimes you just want to order a pizza online or skip chit-chat with a cashier and check yourself out at a kiosk, but there are other times when you need a quick question answered by a real human.
Trend spotted – Human Mode
One grocery store in Scotland opened a slow checkout line for folks who want to feel less pressured to move quickly through a checkout line or for those who have trouble moving quickly due to medical conditions. Another example of the human mode trend is a library where the books are people. You can “check out” a person with autism, a refugee or a transgender person to chat with them about their life experiences.
Trend mastered – Human Mode
So, how can your business take advantage of this? Maybe you’re fully digital, but you add a chat feature to your website. Maybe you’re already in a field full of people such as health care, but you ensure providers take a moment to explain the beeping monitors. Nonprofits could use the idea of a human library and give it a twist to help personalize the people they serve. Something like lunch with a homeless person or a program that sets up networking coffees with a refugee looking for a job. Many customer service departments measure their employees based on how quickly they can serve people; perhaps one line is dedicated to going more slowly, and their goals are adjusted to match.
Adding a more personal connection/touch to your business could be a winning strategy – when people want it. The key is offering a balanced mix of digital and human modes so that people who want to text and get a Y/N in response can do that, but the people who haven’t mastered text messages or need a question answered by a real person can get that, too.
Flaunting your honest (inoffensive) flaws is the new cool thing. It makes you seem more authentic, and in a world of polish and pizzazz sometimes people just want to know that there are other imperfect brands/people out there, too.
Trend spotted – Lovable Unperfection
The Hans Brinker Hotel in Amsterdam is a cheap place to stay and offers little to no amenities, and they own it. To the point where they have offered guests cardboard cutouts of the things they don’t offer, and their ads highlight how amazingly bad they are. They’re still consistently booked solid.
Trend mastered – Lovable Unperfection
Treat this one like that awful interview question. What are your greatest weaknesses? You don’t want to turn people off with something deeply wrong. Instead, showing that you’re a brand made up of real people who are working to improve or who aren’t always 100 percent perfect, even though you try, can help people appreciate and relate to you more. Maybe you made a typo in a tweet and you don’t delete it, you point it out instead. How many times have you completely ignored a marketing email, but when a follow-up email with a title along the lines of “We Goofed” or “Our Mistake” comes in, curiosity gets the better of you and you click through? You can really have fun with this if you’re willing to accept that your brand is made up of people and people are imperfect. Bonus, treating mistakes as lessons to be learned from and even celebrated instead of something terrible can help improve your organization’s internal culture and encourage creativity. Employees may be less afraid to try new things that have the potential to lead to mistakes, failures or amazing success!
It can be tough to know what the latest trends are, let alone keep up with them. One great thing about the folks at the Non-Obvious Company is they look for trends that are related to the way people think, act and perceive the world and not necessarily the pop-song currently at the top of the chart. Those are the type of trends organizations should consider jumping in on.