The Future of Tech: Emerging Trends in 2019

5G. AI. VR. Hugging robots. We’re already a quarter of the way through 2019, and it’s been a fascinating view into what’s next in the world of tech and marketing. We’ve been tracking emerging trends surfacing at industry events like CES, SXSW, and Mobile World Congress. For brands and marketers especially, these events provide a window into where tech is headed, what to get excited about and how we will connect with the audiences of tomorrow. We’ve been taking notes, and want to share what we heard and saw: four emerging trends that are crucial for the marketing world to understand in 2019.

1. From tech-first to people-first.

At this year’s CES, one trend was clear: the topics of health, wellness, and sleep were all prominent. As CNET put it: “With its abundance of companies promising to help you stay fit, eat healthier or measure your [insert whatever biometric reading here] more accurately, this year's CES evolved to be more like a MedTech conference instead.”

This marks a notable shift for the industry, as we’re seeing a drastic move from tech-first to people-first products and services. And that shift is important for brands to consider, as you develop your campaigns in 2019 and beyond. It’s now a business imperative to embed utility and wellbeing into the fabric of products and services from day one, so consider how your marketing can do the same.

2. 5G is ready for its close-up.

There has been a bit of fatigue surrounding 5G over the last few years, since many of us still struggle to send text messages at times. However, this year’s tech events have proven that the technology is here and ready for rollout...for real this time. At Mobile World Congress, 5G was a massive topic of conversation, as a variety of 5G-specific devices were officially announced, and more devices were readying for compatibility. Analyst accounts vary, but a crude comparison suggests that 5G could be 100 times quicker than 4G — better, faster, stronger, too.

With this improved user experience comes exciting opportunities for brands. Faster speeds and download times could mean higher-resolution content and an enhanced ability to create experiences that are personalized in real time. The 5G era will let brands connect with fans faster and more efficiently than ever before, and will lead to more creative freedom to build truly immersive experiences, without slimming them down. And as Digiday explains, this has the potential to shake up the advertising market at a higher level: “with faster load times and higher resolutions, advertisers and publishers predict a new range of ad formats and pricing options.”

3. AI will take audience understanding to a new level.

At Spotify, we pride ourselves on our deep understanding of our audience through music —
understanding their moods and moments based on how they stream. It’s already clear in 2019 that Artificial Intelligence tools can take this audience understanding to a completely new level.

From toothbrushes to resumė scanners to photo editors, we’re seeing companies develop completely new products and services with AI technology and machine learning technology. For marketers, the opportunities here will be endless — this will make moment-based, people-first marketing more personalized and contextual than ever, with a more complete understanding of the consumer journey across products and devices. It’s also going to improve how marketers make ad spend decisions, with programs that can learn and understand the effectiveness of campaigns on an even deeper level than before.

4. Screens 2.0

Tech brands are starting to redefine the concept of what a screen can be. From Samsung’s foldable phone to LG Display’s TV screen that literally rolls out like a yoga mat, the entire notion of fixed displays is being challenged — which will change every type of media experience imaginable, from massive mega-concerts to intimate house parties.

And yet, in many ways, sound is becoming a new type of screen all its own. With the surge in voice-activated products and smart home staples, we’re in an era where the new user interface is audio. As design advocate Amber Case puts it: “We’re seeing a rapid rise in voice-activated interfaces, podcasts, and acoustic awareness. From sonification in hospitals, to sorting through big data and the rise of podcasts, sound is poised to be on par with the visual experience in design."

5. Nostalgia as a marketing tool.

Even as new technologies develop for the future, we’re still noticing that nostalgia is bigger than ever in 2019. Pinball machines, joysticks, and fairground games were all featured at CES this year, many without even a modern twist. And from Nintendo’s “classic” consoles to Panasonic re-releasing the iconic Technics 1210, tapping into emotional memory continues to be big business. Even pop cultural phenomena like Stranger Things, Ready Player One and the ‘90s-heavy Captain Marvel tap into nostalgia as a connection tool.

Naturally, music is an essential tool for nostalgia (it’s actually the #1 trigger1) and we conducted research to uncover how it unlocks unique emotional territory for fans and therefore for brands, too. Learn more about how brands can tap into nostalgia. Ironic that our last trend is nostalgia? Even when new hits emerge, sometimes you can’t beat the classics.

For more on what we learned at this year’s CES about the future of podcasts, women in tech, and data-driven experiences, check out our podcast Culture: Now Streaming.

1 Source: Spotify // Qualitative Research with Audience Theory // Quantitative Research with Equation Research. Survey conducted among 2078 Spotify users 18-44 in US (n=526), UK (n=509), PH (n=511) and BR (n=532) in March 2018