In its 15th year, Accenture’s Fjord Trends report investigates characteristics of human behavior that will affect the culture and work ethics of businesses this year.
Global IT services and consulting company, Accenture publishes the Fjord Trends report, which offers a comprehensive view into the future of people, technology, and business. The report looks at consumer behavior and its resulting impact on the culture, society as well as existing or potential businesses in the coming year.
In a post-pandemic era, new possibilities, and deeper thought into being open to change are taking shape. This year’s report identifies five human behaviors that will challenge organizations to rethink their approach to innovation, design, and driving revenue.
Managing Director at Accenture and Global Co-Lead for Fjord, Luis Arnal tells Communicate, “Fjord is a global exercise that we do to tap into the collective knowledge and observations of over 2000 people worldwide. We then distill these insights to derive trends which organizations across the globe can learn from.”
In 2022, Accenture derived five such trends that might have significant implications:
1. Come as you are
The first trend identifies how people from across the world are finding new confidence in themselves to do things the way they want to. The rising individualism underlined by a “me over we” mentality is stressing empathy between colleagues within companies and changing people’s aspirations as customers, which presents new challenges and opportunities for employers and brands.
“We see a lot of people more empowered, to take on a more proactive role in their lives and not only be susceptible to the life that we had before. Among many different manifestations of this trend, the most dominant one has been remote working. Large companies are allowing their people to work from anywhere in the world permanently. Many have altered their contracts, revised their setups to accommodate this trend.”
Moreover, the report also explains how the side hustle economy is on the rise across the world. With digital growing by the second and the stream of free flowing content online, people are educating themselves and directing their hobbies into businesses. “The rise of entrepreneurs is one manifestation of this trend. Everyone has their own gigs, since they have the freedom to work on their terms. A great example of this in the region is how the UAE government has been giving our freelance visas,” explains Arnal.
2. The end of abundance thinking?
Rising energy bills and shortages in everyday services. It’s come as a shock to those of us who have been able to get whatever we want with minimal effort—those who have been lucky enough to enjoy abundance thinking.
The findings from the Fjord trends report suggest that there is an expectation of an urgent need for the coming together of marketing, customer service, and supply chain in order to protect and support brand reputation. Supply chain issues significantly impact the buying experience, especially as customers feel the volatility of prices, delivery times, and unavailability of desired goods. If continued, people will inevitably be vocal online when they can’t get what they want, and companies should handle the challenges with care.
“Two major forces, one of them being sustainability and consciousness and the second one being the supply chain disruptions that we've had, are going to bring a little more humanity to the materialistic culture that is still prevalent. More companies will be able to collaborate and do things to jumpstart the process and overcome the disruptions that we've been facing,” explains Arnal.
Climate change is also playing the role of a key catalyst in overcoming these disruptions. Throughout 2021, this impact was felt through a series of natural disasters from unseasonal flooding to devastating wildfires.
Events of the past year also revealed how interconnected and interdependent our commercial infrastructure is, which is something shoppers might have not been aware of before. “We’re now already aware of how global problems affect us and we don't want another one, like the pandemic. The pandemic made us wholly aware of the power of global connections and the interdependencies amid governments and countries. It is more visible, and this is only the beginning,” added Arnal.
3. The next frontier
Metaverse is the next frontier of the internet. With the buzz around the idea of what it’s going to offer, a significant cultural change might be on its way. Since it is going to be an entirely immersive experience, it will affect how consumers experience art, music, and brands that take part in it.
Fjord finds that the democratization of access to the data in Metaverse might lead to a new wealth of shared cultural experiences and new economies. Whereas, innovating responsibly will be the foundation of every brief going forward.
“While numerous brands are already using AR and VR to send out their messages, there are many different applications that we still haven't explored. At the end of the day, the possibilities of the Metaverse are infinite. Some of them will be will persevere and some might go down as just experiments,” explains Arnal.
4. This much is true
Fjord’s fourth trend has to do with the human’s quest for truth in the age of simultaneous digital evolution. “People are becoming much more sensitive to the information out there. They are constantly fearing that they are being misled. This is forcing a lot of companies to provide more details about their products and their intent,” explains Arnal.
The report finds how increasingly, brands will likely compete with one another on information layers—if one brand owner decides not to include them, a rival brand might.
Proof demonstrates the truth. Not all customers will want to interrogate the veracity of the information they’re offered, so the expectation is on brands to substantiate what they say in their information layers to lighten the customer’s mental load. This can also be a powerful trust-building opportunity. Arnal adds that “the information has to be given in layers and it has to be done contextually to build trust.”
5. Handle with care
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on mental health around the world—this was one of the biggest global signals for Accenture while researching.
Fjord trends' explains that people are growing more comfortable using a combination of digital and physical services to care for themselves and others, and companies are responding with hybrid propositions. It finds how the focus of care is expanding beyond the health industry, this has traditionally non-health businesses and services are finding new ways to show care to customers.
“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) before the pandemic was only a prerequisite to do business and now it's one of the many priorities that every company in every sector needs to work on. It’s not about the credibility and positioning of the brand among the consumers but it's really a business imperative. Brands are able to give out the message that they care for their consumers with a strong CSR strategy, this is one of the many explanations of how empathy and compassion form the basis to any brand-consumer relationship.” explains Arnal.
Arnal explains the underlying factor for all these trends is the interpretation of relationships. “Most of these trends have to do with the changing meaning of our relationships with other people, information, brands, and the products and services they offer. It all adds up to the renaissance of rebuilding connections that have existed since before the pandemic and have evolved now. The Metaverse, for instance, has to do with different relationships in virtual worlds, it invites us to come as we are and explore. Abundance thinking has to do with our relationship with the products and their consumption. It's not always about money, it has to do with our relationships with the environment. We are now much more aware of what it has to offer and must make the most of this knowledge.”