70% of consumers said, they don’t trust advertising. 

42% distrusted brands, seeing them as remote, abstract and untouchable. 

40% think that online brands are ‘too pushy’. 

Peter Knapp, Chairman and Global Creative Director, Landor, shared these statistics on the dynamic relations between brands and consumers in 2020 at Ahmedabad Design Week 2020 — a design confluence by Unitedworld Institute of Design, Karnavati University, held in Ahmedabad this weekend. Startling as it may seem, in the age of digital clutter and the rat race for capturing the market pie, most brands are facing the stagnation and consumer over-sight. Beyond the aesthetics of logo and catchy name, consumers today are looking for brands that have a personality. 

Peter Knapp at Ahmedabad Design Week

With the start of the new calendar year, brands including Fashion and Lifestyle sector will be allocating budgets for visibility, brand recall and communicating key messages in innovative format. 

So what’s trending in 2020 in brand communications and design ? 

Ahmedabad Design Week has been conceived as a melting pot of ideas & insights – attracting eminent global design thought leaders, change makers, corporates, academia, educators, practitioners, researchers,designers with a hope to create vibrant platform for the design fraternity, captains of creative industry, students and faculty from all over the country and abroad to debate key and trending issues of global Design.

At the three day design conference, eminent personalities in design including the likes of Peter Knapp, Chairman and Global Creative Officer of Landor, Surya Vanka, Founder and Chief Designer, Authentic Design, Rasmus Holscher, CEO and Partner – Holscher Design, Yehuda and Maya Devir, Illustration artists from Israel, Dr.Reet Aus, Founder REET AUS COLLECTION and the brand THE UPSHIRT, Gaurav Jai Gupta, Founder Akaaro and Textile and Fashion designer and many more spoke about design, its intervention in daily life and how brands could use the behavioural understanding of consumers to its advantage. 

Speakers and Organisers with dignitaries at Ahmedabad Design Week

Speaking about the rapidly changing digital landscape, Peter Knapp highlighted on the way consumers are searching for brands today using voice feature. He remarked “ 50% of searches will be through voices instead of text. It will change the way brands will have to communicate because consumer searches will be in different format.”

Imagine this scenario – You are asking Alexa to search for water-proof winter wear. Chances are it will pick up the best possible option from the multitude of search filter. 

What are the chances of your brand to be noticed by Alexa?  What will you have to change in your communications strategy to let your product be found by voice-search devices ?

In its annual survey of the $3 trillion fashion industry, consulting firm McKinsey predicted that AI would increasingly influence the business of everything from design to manufacturing going forward. Fashion as an industry has been slow to respond to technological changes. Recently, H&M has started using AI to keep popular items well-stocked by analysing receipts and returns to gauge which stores need what.

In order to succeed, retailers need to predict what the market wants to avoid a bad product cycle and the reality of discounting inventory and to sell it off. Since the price points are incredibly low for fast-fashion retailers, it’s tough to recover from bad purchase decisions to move unwanted inventory. The stakes are high for fast-fashion retailers and the insights provided by data can help build a more flexible and faster supply chain, facilitate trend detection, manage inventory and set prices.

“Brands can make use of AI to identify the consumer behaviour in purchase decisions and accordingly increase or decrease the production and / or buying to tackle the menace of over-produced garments eventually heading to landfills. Develop a technology to identify which geographies are demanding which kind of products and divert the excess production there” answered Chris Messina on how can AI help fashion, arguably second biggest polluter in world, to tackle its ugly monster of over-production by international retailers and thereby increased landfill by clothes. 

Chris Messina Speaking at Ahmedabad Design Week

While Peter Knapp emphasised on the need for the brands to evolve to survive, he also spoke on the next game changer in marketing – artificial intelligence. “AI will be game changer going forward. AI of brands will have to carry brand personality and not just be the cookie cutter robotic replies to cut the clutter” he shared as he gave examples of brand personality used by various companies internationally. 

In last two years, robots are taking over the influencer marketing game internationally in fashion. Shudu, the model behind the page @shudu.gram is being called one of the most beautiful models on Instagram with 197K followers. Shudu’s creator, Cameron, who creates every image of Shudu with a painstaking level of detail from his computer. Cameron estimates that a single image takes about three full days work besides the intense level of planning. On the other hand, Miquela Sousa is an influencer like any other, except for one big difference – she’s a virtual avatar that exists only online. She rocks Supreme, Prada and Chanel, and attends exclusive events with other influencers. With 1.8 million followers, Miquela even receives freebies from brands for her influence. 

Shudu, virtual supermodel

Miquela Sousa, world’s first robot influencer

Now brands will start creating their own robots with a specific persona to converse, engage and interact with its audience.  

“Data has shown that non-branded searches have increased more due to the increase in voice search in recent times” commented Chris Messina, Inventor #hashtag and Product Designer & Technologist Google I/O at the conference. Talking about how the world is moving towards a culture that is based on internet, Chris gave startling numbers on the use of hashtag – 2300 hashtags are being used every second, that too only on twitter whereas 200 million hashtags are used every day. 

“Brands will have to engage with the community to stand out. Merely launching a line may not work, but what may work is genuine interaction with the society and community at large using relevant hashtags to stand out” added Chris on what should fashion and lifestyle brands do effectively in 2020. 

Surya Vanka at Ahmedabad
Design Week

Design lies in the details; the essential commandment but often ignored in professional practice was reiterated by different speakers citing their own personal journey and career graphs. Surya Vanka, Founder and Chief designer, Authentic Design, spoke about the need for designers to understand the user requirement before fulfilling their own creative streak. “Do more with less. Let go off the extra frills, be it colour or typography. Let the user experience be guided with easy navigation when designing the website UI and UX” he shared as he laid importance on the ongoing trend of minimalism in design. 

On the other hand, Anil Reddy, Founder and Design Director, Lollypop Designs spoke about how artificial intelligence will be the driving factor in designing forward. Having designed digital campaigns for Coke, Adidas, BP, Nissan, Sony Play Station to name a few while working with International advertising agencies like Ogilvy, New Zealand and TBWA, New Zealand, Anil has a knack for identifying the disruptive idea. Whether it was design mandate for Myntra or Swiggy, they kept in mind the changing consumer behaviour at the core of it. “Identifying what your consumer is looking for is the key for designing” he commented. 

Besides exhibition, installations and fun-filled entertaining evenings, timeless vintage classics on display at Ahmedabad Design Week drew a lot of visitors. Students, professionals, corporates, budding designers, academia and the who’s who of design world attended the three-day Ahmedabad Design Week. 

Whether Indian fashion and lifestyle industry is ready to embrace the technology, engage with artificial intelligence, deal with virtual super models, incorporate technology to predict buying behaviour and thus reduce wastage or not will be a million dollar question. 

Will we move with the world or will we embrace change at our own slow pace ?