Introducing Future Now: the series that makes sense of a world sped up

By Alexandra Sloane | 17 August 2020
Facebook’s Director of Marketing Australia and New Zealand Alexandra Sloane.

If you’d told me six months ago the vast majority of us would be working from home full-time, sharing Friday drinks with friends via video calls, and unable to visit other states in Australia, I wouldn’t have believed you. 

But then 2020 hasn’t exactly gone the way any of us thought. As our Chief Creative Officer said recently, “it’s like we’ve woken up three years ahead”. 

We’ve all experienced a seismic realignment as we collectively brought our offices into our living rooms. Virtual coffees, check-ins and connecting with regional and overseas colleagues became our daily ritual. 

I quickly learned that empathy was critical in leading teams through crisis. As brands, to be ultimately useful and valuable in people’s lives, we also need to adjust to where our customers are. As “Iso” became the norm across the world, we saw a growing need for people to connect with family and friends online when we couldn't do so physically. In fact, my kids and I had regular “virtual dinners” with my dad who lives just down the road using Facebook Portal. 

Many used video to bridge the distance, and in some countries, video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubled in March. To help people feel like they’re together, we announced features such as Messenger Rooms, joinable group video calls that make it easy to hang out with up to 50 people and expanded WhatsApp group video calls.

As people, colleagues, managers, we have all adapted in terms of what we need and how we behave. And so have our customers. 

That’s why Facebook and AdNews are teaming up on Future Now, a fortnightly series taking a fresh look at how we might navigate the next few years, based on what we’re seeing shift in Australian customer behaviour. 

With no two days the same and global events increasingly hard to predict, this seven-part series will bring together some of the sharpest minds from a range of disciplines to shine a light on what lies ahead, and how we can start preparing our businesses for it. 

Each episode, AdNews publisher Assia Benmedjdoub will be exploring the unique set of challenges and new customer expectations across six sectors - retail, consumer packaged goods, ecommerce, financial services, technology and travel - and look at the tangible ways first-movers in the industry are taking action.

Throughout the series we will be sharing Facebook’s downloadable category guides, with newly released Australian consumer behaviour research to help your business be more connected and resilient both today, and as you plan for the future. 

The first episode of the series brings together McKinsey partner Jenny Child, behavioural scientist and managing director at People Patterns Bri Williams, and Facebook’s head of connection planning Helen Black to look at ‘What Just Happened?’. 

They will be giving a unique point of view on the shifts in behaviour we need to take notice of, how we as human beings adapt to change, as well as what to expect from consumers and the economy in the months ahead.

In some demographics in particular, customer purchase behaviour is starkly different: a majority (54%) of Australians surveyed by McKinsey in June have tried a new shopping behaviour since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.*  

That includes experimenting with new brands, retailers, stores, websites, and digital shopping methods. For example, some Australian banks have seen rapid new adoption of their mobile banking apps - 52% of Australian millennials surveyed used a mobile banking app in the past four weeks, and of these 21% used it for the first time since the pandemic began.^ 

The episode will cover whether some of these habits are here to stay.

And it's not just the way people are shopping that has shifted rapidly, it's the why. We'll tackle the impact on brand loyalty in a landscape of increased direct to consumer models, and how brand choice is broken down in this new context.

Beyond the simple act of purchasing, episode one will delve into the emergence of community values and zero friction commerce, which are increasingly affecting brand choice. 

While the pace of change over the last six months has been confronting, some things will retain the importance they’ve always had. In the world of marketing communications, the principles of brand building, storytelling, authenticity and creativity are still guiding lights. 

My hope is that Future Now provides Australian businesses with a valuable resource as they evolve and establish their plans to re-emerge stronger than ever.

You can tune into the first episode of the Future Now series from Tuesday, August 18.


*McKinsey & Company COVID-19 Australia Consumer Pulse Survey June 19-21 2020
^Industry Micro-Shifts Monthly Tracker by Kantar Profile (Facebook commissioned online survey of 2003 online general population respondents per wave, ages 18+, Australia, Wave 1, May 2020)

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