Building technology for the greater good

How innovation continues to build trust in a world of savvy consumers.

Businesses are evolving to factor in consumer preferences for socially-responsible brands and more sustainable production. This can be seen in advertising campaigns, employee volunteer programs and even across new products and services coming to the market.

Within the realm of consumer experiences and expectations, we see three interesting trends coming to the forefront of new electronic devices this year – each merging business design with human nature to create technology for the greater good.

Technology building trust between strangers

Uber and Airbnb fundamentally changed our willingness to get into a stranger’s car or allow them onto our private property. Our personal space is increasingly becoming accessible to service providers because it is being monitored and tracked by technology intermediaries.

Key by Amazon will soon allow strangers to deliver packages or groceries straight inside your home. Heightened security monitoring has increased transparency and accountability of individuals in order to build trust between humans.

As marketers, we have seen platform technologies such as Google and Facebook building trust between brands and consumers. However, with the question of personal data coming into the public light more prominently, advertisers need to tread carefully around how consumer data is used for brand marketing.

Innovative devices increasing accessibility to basic human needs

While not the dominant trend, there are companies building products intended to help those in less-fortunate and less-developed parts of the world. Certain innovations make medical products cheaper and therefore, create wider access to healthcare.

Others solve for environmental limitations, such as converting water in the air to safe drinking water for remote villages. It is nice to see hardware being created for developing parts of the world, as there is also no shortage of millennial-run startups that build devices for growing organic herbs or keeping champagne at the perfect temperature.

It is important for marketers to pay attention to these generational shifts toward socially-conscious products. While many of these new Kickstarter projects and start-ups are not commercially viable at a large scale, they do point to a trend of using technology to democratize societal advancements. It is becoming increasingly important to show how consumer electronics and devices are being deployed beyond the wealthiest parts of the world.  

Brands choose responsible design over single use electronics

There is a lot of technology that does not make sense as a stand-alone consumer electronics item, for instance, a clothes-folding machine or giant cocktail mixer. With younger generations moving toward ‘no single use plastics,’ disposable electronics will face similar difficulty selling to the environmentally-conscious masses.

Additionally, it would be extremely hard to change consumer behavior, beyond the ‘shiny object syndrome,’ to transform these single use electronics into daily routines. These products will either become industrial solutions for manufacturers and business owners or they will become added to all-in-one devices.

For many consumers, their smart phone is also their calculator, GPS, alarm clock and music player, as well as powering their wearables (such as a smart watch). Equally, entertainment systems and home hubs eliminate the need for a screen on every home device or multiple operating systems, meaning your lightbulbs or smart oven become like apps on your phone.  

Marketers need to pay close attention to the devices that connect electronics in the home, as they control the unified and persistent consumer data that will unlock consumer insights and media targeting opportunities by households.

As advertisers, we must look at advancements in devices and digital platforms through a lens of consumer behaviors, trust and beliefs – both at a one-to-one level and at a societal level. Increasingly, companies are designing experiences and products that benefit not only consumers and their bottom line, but humanity as a whole.

Brands should be talking more about how their service is built around the connected economy or that the sensor technology in their lawnmowers is also increasing agricultural production in rural areas.  If society wants to be kept in the loop on technology development, as marketers, we should respond with enthusiasm that people want to listen and engage about socially responsible design!

Violeta Todorova is a manager at Publicis Media’s Strategic Studio.

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