It’s the end of another year, and whilst many of us will be thinking about the upcoming holidays and how we plan on closing […]


It’s the end of another year, and whilst many of us will be thinking about the upcoming holidays and how we plan on closing the year, businesses and brands will be finalising carefully laid plans for the year ahead. And if brands are planning to make waves next year, they need to understand the current landscape that their customers, clients and wider audiences are interacting within – considering the key trends that will affect a shift in consumer attitudes and behaviours.

Understanding these trends will not only aid strategy, but will pave ways to a more successful and sustainable business – however, it’s about knowing how to apply these insights to the brands and businesses you serve which make them invaluable. With this in mind, I recently attended a Stylus breakfast, which looked at 30 emerging trends that are set to shape 2019 and affect future-facing product, brand, and marketing strategies. Many of the trends identified are heavily entwined in the work we do with our clients at MullenLowe salt as end-to-end purpose specialists, however here are three of the most relevant key trends that are set to gain momentum in 2019.

1. Enlightened Masculinity

For a long time, there has been an unwritten code of conduct amongst – and aimed at – men that has left many out of touch with their emotions. But there is a global movement building. Men are exploring varied identities and reframing male strength by creating inclusive spaces, detoxifying masculinity, and abandoning traditional hierarchies.

Now is the time to trade the macho posturing for a more modern inclusive and modern approach to masculinity and forms much of the work that we have been doing with Axe (Lynx in the UK). Most recently, we have been building on the brand’s #isitokforguys campaign, which was shortlisted this year for a Cannes Lions award, working with strategic partners to actively remove harmful masculine labels and to encourage men to express themselves more freely.

This trend is set to continue and be driven by brands in 2019 to further facilitate a more enlightened and inclusive definition of masculinity. 

2. Sustainability Goes Mainstream

2019 is set to be the year that sustainability truly goes mainstream. Consumers increasingly want to buy from brands that are environmentally responsible and many forward thinking companies have responded by embracing sustainability in truly innovative and surprising ways, as we all want to do our bit to protect our planet and the people in it.

This summer we helped independent family distillers, William Grant & Sons champion the discarded with the launch of Discarded, a vermouth with purpose. After noticing that billions of tonnes of cascara, the fruit of the coffee berry, were being wasted in coffee farming each year, William Grant & Sons started to experiment with the waste product to learn more about its taste and blending capabilities. What others have wasted, they welcomed and made it the distinguished feature in Discarded.

In the coming year we will see more businesses looking at innovative ways to boost their sustainability credentials, as it continues to be a powerful motivator and driver in consumers’ purchasing decisions. 

3. Betting on Social Beauty

This year more than ever before there’s been prolific debate around the positive and negative impact that social media has on our lives – particularly relating to beauty ideals and younger generations. It’s been widely criticised for portraying an unrealistic, filtered and edited version of the truth and has been linked to poor mental health and low self-esteem and body confidence. With more apps and platforms surfacing, it also seems social media is showing no signs of slowing down. But brands are acknowledging the impact social media is having on consumers and their desire for more authentic, truthful and realistic representations.

We recently hosted a roundtable discussion with the Dove Self-Esteem Project and World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, bringing together experts and key opinion leaders in the self-esteem and body confidence space to discuss the challenges girls face today. One key theme of discussion was social media and how we can encourage girls to use this medium in a healthy way and not as a way to compare or validate ideals.

In 2019, we will see more and more brands begin to use their social media accounts, clout and presence to push positive and empowering messages and bring a whole new meaning to the digital experience that social media brings.

So what does success look like in 2019?

It’s never been a more exciting time to be working in the creative industry. However, as our increasingly fast-paced world continues to evolve, staying ahead of the curve has also never been more challenging.

For MullenLowe salt, success is continuing to drive positive change inside and outside of organisations. With purpose at the heart of everything we do, we’re looking forward to expanding our work to eliminate harmful labels, break beauty myths, embrace sustainability and much more.