2017 UK Business Trends
Following a tumultuous 2016, we’re entering 2017 somewhat tentatively. With many question marks hanging over us in the wake of Brexit, startups and SMEs may wonder what the future looks like for UK business.
Here’s our rundown of some of the key trends being heralded as the drivers of business in 2017.
With its oldest members now reaching their 30s – there’s no underestimating the Millennial impact on business as we enter the New Year. On the cusp of maturing into their “prime spending age” (Goldman Sachs infographic) the largest ever generation will play an increasingly big role in shaping business, both from the inside and the outside.
There are a few key differentiators between Millennials and their preceding generations, and it’s these differences which are changing the way that businesses operate.
- They live digital: video games, online TV, social media, music downloads – the Millennial world is a marked step away from analogue
- They’re more connected than any previous generation: this redefines how brands communicate with their audience
- They are indebted and have less money to spend: so lavishness is no longer appealing – convenience and money-saving are the drivers behind Millennial consumption
- They have different priorities: as a result of less money to spend, big commitments such as marriage, children, property buying and even car buying are being put off – with reluctance toward some of these bigger purchasing commitments (e.g. cars) giving way to what’s being called a “sharing economy”
Millennials are also redefining companies from within. Their ability to adapt quickly to a changing environment – and a finger on the pulse of all things tech and communication – has seen a spike in companies purposefully scouting for Millennial employees, in a bid to reinvigorate business:
“What people are interested in today is different than 22 years ago. We take that to heart,”
– Dan Black – Global Accounting Firm: EY
Possibly the biggest investment that any company will make this year is in its tech infrastructure. With the Millennials (and under) fully embracing technological advancement there is huge opportunity to widen the appeal to these markets through – but not exclusive to – the following;
eCommerce: eCommerce retail sales pitched in at around 12% of all UK retail sales at the end of last year so, if you’re not online already, perhaps 2017 is the year to make the digital leap. By 2020, Worldwide retail eCommerce sales are tipped to top £3.3 trillion, so integrating a web presence into your business is becoming increasingly important – even if on a small scale.
Things like free shipping. incentives and flash sales will be key drivers for online retailers, as competition hots up and savvier consumers search for a hook.
What this also means is that traditional bricks and mortar stores need to get a little cleverer to differentiate themselves. If it’s easier and more convenient for customers to shop online these days, then going into a store needs to deliver an experience that they can’t get online.
Digital Marketing: As we become an increasingly digital consumer group, so too will our marketing take on an ever more of a digital form. A few key digital marketing tactics to watch out for in 2017 are:
- Live-streaming video
- Content marketing
- Automated marketing
- Mobile marketing
- Segmented/ targeted marketing
Artificial Intelligence (AI): Innovative, integrated, tech solutions which allow a service to be intuitive and reactive are receiving a great deal of press.
Almost any search for “Tech Trends 2017” will return AI as one of the most hotly anticipated business developments of the year ahead – with increasing interest in embedding AI in roles such as accounting, supply chain, finance and HR – within established companies.
Taking the notion a step further, driverless cars and human-less helpers such as Siri and Cortana – which are already taking off – will start to become ever more popular.
As we’ve established, the Millennial market is about convenience, and businesses which cater to this are on the rise.
UBER, AirBnB and Deliveroo are a few, now well known, examples of businesses which do not own their own assets but act as a connector between assets and their audiences. As our society becomes a more self-serving one, we’ll continue to see the rise in popularity of this type of business proposition.
Some of the startups which have been featured on “Most exciting of 2016” lists are exactly this type of offering. Carwow flips the car buying experience on its head by having dealerships compete for customer, based on the model selected by the consumer online.
Grabble.com describes itself as the “Tinder of fashion” – allowing users to swipe through personalised style suggestions and then easily integrate with the source host store, i.e. Topshop or ASOS.
There are even new online GP apps being released to market, which attempt to take the stress and longevity out of visiting your doctor for, what may be, a minor issue.
Health and Wellness
There is no denying that the nation’s health conscience has been given a nudge, and with Millennials a more health conscious consumer than any of their predecessors, the health and wellness market is set to continue its ascent.
To round-up, Millennials are the key influencers of business trends for the coming year and it’s all about simplifying, either through clever innovation which allows companies to offer a more seamless experience – through cutting out the middleman – or through promotion of a simpler, cleaner lifestyle.
Hopefully some takeaways for you and your startup or SME!