And what retailers and brands can do in response to mitigate their impact

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Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

It is now common knowledge that the pandemic has significantly accelerated the adoption of ecommerce and related digital shopping services. U.S. ecommerce sales grew by 44% y-o-y in 2020, nearly tripling the 15.1% increase in 2019, according to the latest data from DigitalCommerce360. 25% of businesses surveyed by Software Advice in June reported having launched an ecommerce sales channel due to the pandemic. Overall, the pandemic has accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years, per IBM US Retail Index.

Less commonly addressed, however, are the unexpected consequences and new challenges stemming from hastened…


Exploring the potential marketing applications of non-fungible tokens

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Nike is one of brands that have started exploring NFTs, Image source: Nike/SixfiguresSneakerhead

If you’ve been online these days, you’ve probably come across some incessant buzz about something called non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Lindsay Lohan and YouTuber Logan Paul both created some sort of digital collectibles based on NFTs; Post Malone teamed up with a startup called Fyooz to launch a celebrity beer pong league using NFTs; and the first NFT artwork just went on sale at major auction house Christie’s.

So what exactly is a NFT? How do they work? Why are they suddenly everywhere? …


Digital-native brands, 5G, and sustainability stood out in a year of brands trying to keep things light

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On Sunday, the grand American tradition of the Super Bowl match returned to TV after a transformative year, and brought with it one of our favorite weathervanes of cultural zeitgeist — the Super Bowl ads. As with years past, they reflected brand marketers’ best guesses at where consumer interests and sentiments are landing these days and, in aggregate, pointed to some interesting market trends that all brands should keep an eye on.

The Takeover of Digital-Native Brands

Super Bowl, the crown jewel program of U.S. broadcast TV, has long provided unparalleled audience reach for brands, especially those in categories like auto, CPG, and entertainment, whose…


Clubhouse had a big moment, but its path to monetization and brand opportunities remains uncertain

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Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

Clubhouse is having a moment. Although the social audio app is not yet a year old, it has become a buzzy platform among the Silicon Valley crowd. Built around the idea of live audio-only interaction, Clubhouse enables users to broadcast their live conversations and invite live audience feedback. Instead of a central content feed, users are presented with different “rooms” to join for live discussions on various topics where they can choose to simply listen or to participate.

After raising a series B round at a staggering $1 billion valuation last month, Clubhouse scored an Elon Musk appearance on Sunday…


What brands need to know in order to effectively reach this rising high-value audience segment

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A hotel in Aruba has created outdoor workstations for digital nomads. Credit: Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba

As we dissected in our brand new 2021 Outlook report, the accelerated shift towards remote work is giving rise to a new class of digital nomads and forcing many knowledge workers to reckon with a broken sense of time and location in everyday life. …


Decoding the key trends emerging out of the first virtual CES

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As the first virtual CES comes to a close, we are left to reflect on the all-digital experience and reevaluate the trends signaled by the show’s new products and announcements. Rather paradoxically, this CES felt both smaller and bigger: smaller because less than half of last year’s 4,400 exhibitors opted to join the virtual show floor, and there was no cavernous convention hall to roam; bigger because of the ever-expanding scope of consumer tech products that now impact all aspects of our economy and daily lives. Attending CES from home only accentuated the essentialness of digital technology.

To better understand…


The five key trends that marketers should keep a close eye on

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CES 2021 is set to kick off on Monday, and like many recent events, it is going fully online. Instead of the bustling show floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center, this year’s biggest consumer technology event will happen on a digital venue developed by Microsoft. No more getting stuck in awful traffic going between different venues, or waiting in long lines to get into a keynote venue; every content session, including the ones from the Lab, will simply be a few clicks away.

While the CES experience this year will undoubtedly be very different, it may just end up…


How our Outlook trends played out over this unusual year

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

2020 has been a year defined by a devastating global pandemic that no one saw coming, which brought on a variety of changes in consumer behavior and accelerations in market trends to which all brands had to quickly adapt. Looking back on this highly unusual year, one thing stands out loud and clear — change is hard; it happens gradually and then suddenly.

Back in January when we released our annual Outlook trend report, we envisioned 2020 to be a year of sustained, steady growth of an increasingly digitized economy and algorithmic culture as big tech companies continued the race…


An exciting emerging channel for immersive storytelling, world-building, and unlocking fan creativity

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Image credit: Epic Games

It’s been almost a year since Fortnite’s exclusive Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker event, where fans got a sneak peek at the movie, played with lightsabers, and danced with director J.J. Abrams’ avatar, all inside the massively popular online game. Reviews of the event were a mixed bag, with some applauding it as a bold step towards the future of interactive entertainment while others finding it underwhelming and blatantly promotional. Regardless, no one could deny that Fortnite and Disney were onto something in their innovative collaboration.

Since then, Fortnite has doubled down by hosting a series of buzzy virtual…


December is shaping up to be the new April, and brands should prepare for many media and consumer trends to re-accelerate

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

December is the new April, judging by the way things are going. With new Covid-19 cases sharply climbing nationwide, some states such as Washington and New York have already reinstated some restrictions that were previously put in place to encourage social distancing and curb the third wave of outbreak.

Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse, given that it’s the season of holiday parties and family get-togethers. About 40% of Americans surveyed say they plan to gather in groups of 10 or more people this holiday season, and nearly 33% say they will not require friends or family to wear…

Richard Yao

Manager of Strategy & Content, IPG Media Lab

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