Louise Lloyd, Cirkle: Stay ahead of the trend curve

Brands and PROs that can see the future and engage in new behaviours will benefit the most.

Harnessing trend intelligence is a great opportunity to improve our PR campaigns. Everyone wants to develop more meaningful relationships with consumers and stay ahead of the game by tapping into emergent trends that resonate with, and influence, consumers.

By anticipating future trends and changes and how consumers will respond, brands are able stay one step ahead of their competitors. Our insights into trends allow us to shape our consumer campaigns, giving our clients that all-important competitive edge by being able to position them as innovative, early adopters, in tune with their target consumer.

As part of our forensic examination of a brand and its landscape, we work with global trend forecasters, LSN Global/The Future Laboratory to identify and exploit relevant trends throughout our campaigns. Homedulgence - the trend that started as a backlash to the credit crunch - sees staying in as the new going out, as consumers transform their homes into multi-functional entertainment spaces.

The lounge becomes redundant in favour of open-plan kitchen living spaces, while dinner parties and home concerts are on the rise. This trend was at the heart of our 'Kitchen Theatre' comms platform to launch Russell Hobbs' premium food preparation appliances. Our onand offline campaign positioned the consumer as a culinary 'performer' with the kitchen as their 'stage', appliances as their 'props' and guests as their 'audience'.

So, what is the next big thing? As we're in an era of conversations, PROs need to create ultimate engagement, intimacy and loyalty between brands and their consumers. Ten years ago, who knew social networking would be a global phenomenon and one that has changed the world by becoming a crucial extra layer connecting consumers and brands? According to LSN Global, there is now a new layer: gaming. Over the next ten years, it believes it will have a similar impact on the world as social networks have had over the past ten years. But it is not about traditional Xbox-style gaming; it's about experience, play, collaboration, status and reward as a new generation of social media-savvy consumers turn to gaming to learn and engage with the world around them. Look forward to the rise of what LSN Global describes as 'ubiquitous gaming culture', where brand owners apply 'gamification' to their brands by incorporating 'game play' elements into non-gaming applications as well as products and related services. Think how you can motivate your target audience - it could be as simple as Braun Oral-B's toothbrush that displays a happy face when properly used.

In today's prohibition culture, where governments and brands are trying to curb, control, nudge and monitor our behavior, 'gamification'

is becoming increasingly evident throughout comms. In Sweden, VW and the National Society for Road Safety created the speed camera lottery, encouraging safer driving by rewarding responsible drivers, instead of penalising speeders, while in the US, the online game Xtreme Krunch Kart encourages healthier eating as players need to crunch carrots near to the microphone to accelerate their carts.

In this trends context, PR is in an ideal place, with a clear advantage over other marketing disciplines. We're able to be agile and quick to respond to emerging trends, exploiting them and, in other instances, foreseeing them throughout our integrated comms. In our 'always on' world, the pace of change is increasing. Brands, and importantly PROs, that can see the future and engage in new behaviours stand to benefit the most.

Louise Lloyd is board director at Cirkle


If your agency was an animal, which would it be and why?

A cliche, but a tiger. Tigers are able to play the long game or jump straight in to grab an opportunity - both are important in PR. Tigers are also fearless and energised, and, unlike the lion, prefer to seek out the next challenge.

To which three consumer brands are you most personally loyal?

Pizza Express, because it displays a real commitment to consumer comms; Legoland, because I am a weekly visitor with my daughter throughout the season, and Veuve Clicquot, because it always reminds me of fun times - Ascot, Henley Regatta - where it works hard to have a dominant presence.

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