Ayzenberg trend-watcher Ashley Otah explores the ways in which some of the world’s biggest brands are centering the experiences and needs of customers, building community and promoting inclusivity.


About one in six people worldwide experience significant disability. And yet, the representation of people with disabilities in advertising and beyond remains abysmal. Ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Apple’s latest campaign, “The Greatest,” centers the experiences of disabled people, showcasing their daily lives, talents, celebrations and more, including how Apple technology assists them in accomplishing tasks. The video exemplifies a broader effort from the technology industry to embrace inclusion. Although there is a long way to go, the ad underscores the strides made to expand accessibility for all.


The end of the year heralds the arrival of many things—holiday gatherings, friendly outings and even snow, for some—but it also signals the arrival of Spotify Wrapped. With new features to analyze users’ “Listening Personality” and other usage metrics, the yearly drop keeps audiences on their toes and coming back for more. Its shareability, personalization and community-building attributes are just a few things that boost the success of Spotify Wrapped. Users’ desire to look inward while connecting outwardly is exemplified by the campaign, and although it would be quite a feat to duplicate or defeat, Spotify’s ability to build community provides a lesson all brands can learn from.


Everything is tastier in Texas—and McDonald’s knows that. The company recently launched a new test restaurant in the Lone Star State designed for the diner on the go. Customers will be able to order ahead and pick up their orders at a dedicated conveyor, skipping the drive-thru lane. The restaurant also features a pick-up room for delivery drivers to retrieve orders and kiosks where customers can place orders to go. This new endeavor shows McDonald’s understanding of consumers’ changing behaviors. Understanding and reshaping the customer experience in a rapidly evolving landscape can elevate brands above the rest.