Consumers are driven by what they can see and obtain quickly, according to the 2018 Mindshare report. In its annual study, the UK media company identified five key trends are shaping the technological and cultural worlds, as well as how they impact today’s brands.

The key trends impacting consumers and brands in 2018 include image-based interaction, discovery, connectivity, automation and data.

Mindshare surveyed over 6,000 people and held focus groups across the UK. They also carried out mobile qualitative and diary style exercises with over 100 people and carried out social and search analysis. Respondents were asked about levels of interest in different trends as well as usage habits.

Visualizing The Future

Human beings have always been visual creatures from the first cave drawings to this morning’s Instagram post. Mindshare found that images are just as, if not more, vital to today’s consumer in everything they do. Nearly three-quarters of consumers between the ages of 18-24 admitted to taking pictures or screenshots to help remember things.

Respondents expressed interest in visual search, especially, and 41 percent said they would use technology like Google Lens to do so.

Mindshare recommends that brands optimize their content for image search and consider how consumers use images to search. In addition, brands should think about the points in their purchase journey that could be improved through image recognition.

Exploring For Inspiration

Seven in 10 people click on content that has been recommended to them online, according to the report. That number rises to eight in ten for millennials and nine in ten for Gen Z. This makes trust even more vital for brands to earn in the coming years.

Recommendation engines have become a part of everyday life that many of us take for granted, whether that’s Netflix suggesting a movie or Amazon highlighting related items. Forty-one percent of consumers said they find it helpful when technology recommends them new products or services. Because these services are so commonplace, there is a higher expectation among consumers to receive accurate recommendations.

Tech’s Role In The Customer Journey

Automation is more prevalent in the lives of consumers and how they interact with brands. In 2018, Mindshare predicts that brands will weigh the impact this has on the consumer relationship. Forty-three percent of respondents find automation frustrating. In the coming year, the agency recommends augmented, not replacing the human role in customer support. Automation should also be delivered in the brand’s unique style so that consumers will feel easier about the process.

The final and perhaps most important trend impacting brands is data—whether it be martech or compliance with GDPR. The study predicts that many consumers will take a more proactive approach to data privacy by using encryption tools and denying access to brands. For this reason, brands need to practice transparency, help consumers make smart decisions and offer consumers a benefit for sharing.