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Digitas Predictions: How to Meet Consumer Needs in 2018 and Beyond


Michael Kahn

Digitas Predictions: How to Meet Consumer Needs in 2018 and Beyond


It’s that’s time of year again. The time when industry pundits everywhere try to put their finger on what will make headlines in the year to come.  

This year we’re setting our predictions against the backdrop of what is still considered the most well-known motivation theory in the world—psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, which turns 75 in 2018. Maslow set out to discover what people need to survive, to be happy, and to reach their full potential.

At Digitas, we set out to examine human needs every day—and understand the specific behaviors that unfold as a result.

As we approach 2018, we see tectonic shifts in consumer needs. Technology has disrupted how consumers think about safety and intimacy, and social media has changed how they see themselves and their accomplishments.

As a result, the role of brands is changing, too. Consumers aren’t simply transacting out of necessity, they’re seeking—and expecting—a 1:1 relationship with brands, too. 

Here are predictions from eight Digitas experts (from capabilities including talent, content, social, strategy, data & analysis, design, media, and tech) about how brands can future-proof their business to meet the changing needs of consumers in 2018 and beyond.

-Michael Kahn Global Brand President, Digitas

In 2018, FLEXIBILITY will be the word of the year in the talent market. To attract and retain the best talent, organizations need to offer flexibility in how, when, and where their employees work. It’s no longer a perk; it’s a business imperative for attracting and retaining the best talent.

-Erin Quill-Keough Chief Talent Officer, NA

As technology continues to empower people, they will increasingly reject, bypass, skip, and avoid all forms of intrusive, interruptive marketing (looking at you, pop-ups, banners and TV spots). Our content practice is based on the belief that brands have stories worth telling that consumers will seek out, shape, and share. Those that interrupt, intrude, and talk about themselves won’t be asked back.

-Scott Donaton Chief Content Officer, Head of Digitas Studios

People’s expectation for private and personal social media communication (“dark” social media) will continue to grow. To take advantage of the shift, marketers will need to make smart use of messaging apps and artificial intelligence, use their customer data effectively for personalization, and create experiences that add real value for customers.

-Liz Cole VP/Group Director, Social Strategy

Success in 2018 will pivot on brands’ ability to understand people as people and create meaningful connections both emotionally and behaviorally. Strategy offers brands a deeper understanding of the “heat moments” in people’s lives and journeys, providing clarity on when and where brands should connect with people and defining what experience to create to deepen relationships.

-Jonathan Tatlow EVP, Head of Strategy

The continual advancement of technology and algorithms will enable us to use data to better connect with consumers 1 on 1. Additionally, with more data at our fingertips, we’ll see an enhanced focus on data governance and compliance. How we handle the data will become equally as important as how we use it.

-Jen Colton EVP, Data & Analysis (DNA)

The ways consumers engage with brands continues to proliferate. Our design team focuses on defining or refining a client’s brand identity to live successfully in any medium. And instead of relying solely on subjective opinion, we validate our work with tools that infuse a traditionally emotional process with quantitative analysis, allowing for the best and most successful outcome for the brand.

-Matthew Jacobson EVP/Global Executive Design Director

As customers look for more and more ways to avoid paid advertising, marketers will need to be strategic in connecting with customers across all touchpoints to ensure that client dollars are maximized and that customers are delivered value at every possible turn.

-Megan McCurry EVP/Media

Even shorter attention spans, combined with expectations of relevance means marketers will need to use data, algorithms, and machine learning to rise above the noise of one-size-fits-all content and drive a personalized message everywhere paths cross with consumers. The good news: continued evolution in cloud computing & artificial intelligence in 2018 will make technology cheaper and even easier for organizations to adopt.

-Tony Bailey SVP, Technology 

Michael Kahn

Michael Kahn


Michael Kahn (MK) is the Global Brand President of Digitas. With a passion to move clients' businesses ahead every day, MK motivates the organization to set the standard for strategic leadership, proactive service and sustained innovation, and embody a "performance never rests" mindset.


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