In conjunction with futurologists Trend One, YouGov Reports has identified five key technology ‘megatrends’ of the future. But with change comes concern, so how can these technologies make the leap from niche to mass market? 

Many recent technological advancements, which may have seemed outlandish even five years ago, have started to enter the mainstream. Take fingerprint recognition on smartphones – an advancement which has come so far that now around two thirds (64%) of us would consider using it to access our bank accounts.

Yet for all the innovations that become part of our everyday lives, there are others – such as Google Glass and 3D TVs – which fail to make the same impact. But why do some technological advancements take off and the others not? One big reason is that they fail to clear the hurdle of public scepticism. 

Our new Megatrends: Targeting the non-believers report shows there are, broadly speaking, two distinct types of consumers who are reluctant to embrace new technology – “worriers” and “sceptics.” Our data shows that for a new technology to become mass market, the concerns of “worriers” and “sceptics” have to be addressed.

The sceptics

New technology sceptics are the type of people you would expect – being likely to be married, over-55, and female, whose main concern is risks to their privacy. 

However, these fears can be allayed. For instance, when it comes to personal digital assistants, three quarters (74%) of women aged 55+ are concerned about security issues around the devices. Yet almost as many (72%) would welcome fingerprint scanning as a security option.

Meeting their concerns and providing a solution could yield significant rewards as, while this group is sceptical about technological advances, this does not mean they are unengaged or uninterested. For instance, around a quarter of women aged 55+ would be happy for a digital personal assistant to help them with – or do – their personal finances and recommend leisure activities. Furthermore, four in ten would want it to help them with – or take care of – the upkeep of their vehicle.

The worriers

By comparison, the worriers are more likely to be women in a relationship aged between 35 and 44.

And although they have concerns, like the sceptics they are not averse to new tech per se. So while they are more likely than the general public to be concerned that the data from a wearable will be used for companies to learn things about their lifestyle, they are also more likely than the population at large to want to buy a wearable because it is the “next big thing.”

As with the sceptics, brands should focus on allaying security and privacy fears – and advertising is a good channel for this. The data suggests that they are particularly aware of adverts in public places (such as train stations, on public transport and on posters/billboards) and also ones featuring celebrity endorsements.

Turning a spark into a flame

While many emerging trends will take off, our data suggests that some provoke cynicism rather than fear. A good example of this is 3D printers where 44% of people say they don’t know what they would use one for and 37% say they just don’t want one.  However, almost six in ten 25 to 34 year olds say they can think of a use for one. 

This perhaps is the key – the bigger picture lies in the finer demographic details.  The first spark of any technology trend needs to come from the groups who are most likely to try them. However, to turn this small spark into a large flame, the concerns of more dubious consumers need to be addressed and allayed. 

Find out more about how to target these consumers in the report: Megatrends: Targeting the non-believers


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