2024 Trends: The Toaster Edit

Tech and Human Experiences - Harmony or Tension?

As we wrap the first month of the year, some may dwell on the negatives…
A distinct clampdown on Deliveroo spending, dark and sporadically arctic afternoons. But all around the world, keen marketers have enjoyed the flurry of trend reports that have landed in our inboxes. - Well, that’s what we’ve enjoyed doing for the past few weeks.

And after indulging in generous portions of trend reports from across the web, we’re hyped about three big themes…

1. Convergent AI

Seamless Fusion for Hyper-Personalisation

Back in the early 00s, there was a lot of talk about the convergence of tech - making our many devices work together smoothly, breaking down the walls between the different types and creating a simpler, integrated experience for users.

Today, we see this trend make a comeback, but with a twist. Instead of a trend grounded by hardware, this is all about the convergence of data modalities and AI functions. As spotted by the good folks at Raconteur, tools like Gemini are poised to break down silos between separate AI functions. A single model can handle tasks like natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics, creating a more unified and intelligent agent.

This paves the way for even more deeply personalised marketing campaigns and brand interactions. Imagine ads that have hyper-customised jingles or a digital OOH with a poem that constantly changes in response to the person standing in front of it.

Toaster asks:
💭 How can we think more multi-dimensionally about the role of AI?

💭 How could you support or surprise your customers by creating AI-powered experiences that combine both language understanding with image recognition or visualisation?

2. Human-Powerered Authenticity

Creating and Scaling Authentic Content in the AI Epoch

There's an exciting tension forming between the future of AI-powered marketing and a desire for human-powered authenticity.

We first spotted this trend at D&AD’s Annual Trend Event where they showcased Skinny Mobile’s ‘Phone It In’ campaign. It features real people phoning in to voice record local radio ads, reading aloud from scripts printed on OOH spots across New Zealand – 34 witty, bespokely crafted scripts contextually written for their geographic placement. But what if those 34 scripts became countless more localised ads through the power of AI? Would it lose its authenticity or cleverly amplify it?

It’s exciting that AI now offers marketers great opportunities to scale content. But as our social feeds fill up on deepfakes and AI-generated Harry Potter trailers for sequels that don’t exist, it’s no wonder authentic videos like this gem from Hobbycraft employees are doing the rounds on TikTok.

Toaster asks:

💭 How can we seamlessly integrate the power of AI in scaling content while preserving and even enhancing the human authenticity seen in successful campaigns like 'Phone It In'?

💭 What innovative approaches can we explore to involve our audience in the content creation process, ensuring a genuine and relatable touch to our marketing campaigns?

3. Tangible Thrills

Crafting Moments Beyond the Digital Horizon

It turns out that seeking human-powered authenticity in our feeds is not enough. We need to experience it in the real world too. With so much of our lives spent online, more effort and curation goes into planning bigger momentous IRL social events - especially for Gen Z.

Ypulse calls this the ‘Joy Economy’. Forbes calls it ‘Offline, Tangible Experiences’.

Despite rising costs, we are spending big on IRL social moments that provide lasting rushes of positivity – whether that’s the Eras Tour, theme park tickets, Tiktok-famous restaurants or ridiculously over-the-top decorations for Halloween.

It’s no wonder NFTs are on ice while the collection of real-world things like Stanley cups and Squishmallows are on the up (kidulting is still a thing, apparently).

Toaster asks:

💭 In what ways can we strategically align our marketing efforts with the rising trend of spending on significant real-world events, ensuring our brand becomes synonymous with positive and lasting moments?

💭 Given the shift towards valuing tangible experiences and items, what innovative approaches can we employ to authentically connect with our audience and participate in the 'Joy Economy' movement, especially considering the shift away from virtual assets like NFTs?

To wrap up…

We can’t wait to see how these manifest as we move through the year.

Need a little help to creatively explore how these trends (among others) might apply to your business? We love running ideation workshops to help brands make the most of emerging trends. Get in touch!