Insights from Isobar’s 2019 trends reports

From mindfulness to emotion-driven marketing, here are some the forces shaping the industry over the next year.


For its 2019 annual trends report, Isobar Canada set out to find how brands can leverage technology to “navigate stormy waters.” The digital agency has unveiled its findings, including a list of 10 themes of “chaos” and “calm” that are shaping the year ahead.

Among the various trends identified, it notes a pull towards the “emotion-driven economy,” as companies shift from simply trying to anticipate what consumers will do next to trying to understand how they feel.

That goal has been enabled by advancements in technologies allowing companies to more easily identify, track and replicate consumers’ emotions. According to the report, industry pundits expect the “affective computing market,” consisting of tech designed to recognize, understand and simulate human emotion, to grow to $59 billion by 2021. These technologies could include gesture, speech and facial recognition, and can be applied to hands-free computing, virtual sales assistants and social interfaces, according to another report from ReportBuyer that also anticipates a 28% growth between 2018 and 2026.

However, the agency notes, brands must be mindful that too much attention to emotion over more rational forms of marketing can lead to consumer fatigue. With that in mind – on the opposite end of the chaos-calm spectrum  mindfulness has also taken root amid an environment where consumers are feeling perpetually “bombarded with digital stimulus.”

Brands, the report suggests, should respond by showing their compassionate sides. Isobar points to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram tools that allow people to more easily keep track of time spent with the service as ways some tech companies are tapping into this trend. Meanwhile, Google now has a digital well-being app to assist users looking to curtail their smartphone usage.

“While seemingly counter-intuitive to the idea of increasing brand engagement,” the report notes, “we can leverage the concept of mindfulness and social media detoxes to make brands appear more human, less self-serving, and establish an emotional connection with consumers.”

Isobar also noted the impact that more data protection and regulations could have on brands: “While no brand should expect much success without a meaningful data strategy,” the report notes, “the days of blind collection and storage of user data are likely coming to a close.” While Canada has its own data regulations, Isobar suggests that Canadian companies should still look to abide by the more stringent GDPR regulations (which extend outside the EU boundaries) to avoid needing to restructure their data strategies in the future.

And finally, the report tracked “raw inclusivity” as another major theme going forward. Already in 2018, we saw a number of brands make inclusivity a priority, with platforms attempting to capture multicultural representations. In 2019, the report predicts audiences will “search for a more raw, unpolished and real version of representation.” While brand campaigns including Dove’s “Real Beauty” have proven effective in the past, going forward, consumers will look for brands “that embrace all and not just most.”