BURLINGTON, VT--(Marketwired - Dec 11, 2015) - December is the right time to reflect on the important youth culture trends in 2015 for the purpose of identifying the big opportunities they may present in the coming year. Here are the top 4 trends we think marketers ought to plan for in 2016.

Social Media as Broadcast Media
By 2020, 2.44 billion of the world's population will be on social networks (eMarketer). 2015 was the year platforms like Periscope and Meerkat entered consumers' consciousness. 2016 will be the year many brands will evolve from experimenting to more deeply integrating live streaming video into their marketing strategies. Brands will be able to enable sneak-peaks, special offers, events, and more -- all with an insider, behind-the-scenes appeal.

We predict the use of live streaming video platforms to grow rapidly in 2016 and over the next few years. Soon youth culture will not just always be connected, but always broadcasting. And in a world where everything from pro sports events to local news happenings will be broadcast by thousands of young fans and eyewitnesses, brands that are not present may be largely outside of how youth culture will soon be engaging with social media.

Virtual Reality as Social Media
Much of the media buzz about virtual reality has been centered on the gaming industry. That's understandable given the immersive environments that VR will allow a gamer to take part in. But 2016 will be the year consumers see what virtual reality will mean for non-gaming experiences too. For example, the VR studio Vrse.works has already created experiences that include the viewer "living" inside a music video of their favorite artist. We think the wide range of applications will be the beginning of VR's mass appeal to youth culture.

We predict in 2016, that virtual reality will begin to become a central component of what youth culture deems "social" media. While today, two friends use a phone to post a selfie to Facebook from a live concert they are attending -- soon, they will be "attending" that concert virtually with all of their Facebook friends. Brands with virtual reality competence will understand the implications on consumer behavior, its challenges to their current brand marketing, and VR's new advertising opportunities.

Speed of Everything
Internet savvy Gen Z and Millennials expect convenience, service, and above all speed. According to Harris Interactive, 88% of Americans expect to be able to schedule a service "on-demand." In 2015, Amazon took speed to a new level. Amazon Prime Now delivers tens of thousands of items in one and two-hours from local stores near the buyer.

We predict that 2016 will be the year that industries that haven't kept pace with youth culture's expectation for speed will begin to catch up. For example, look for print publications (yes, young people still love print) to reduce the time it takes for a consumer to receive their first magazine. Brands that lack speed are at risk on multiple fronts. Can a brand that lacks speed really be a brand loved by Gen Z and Millennials? Today a brand's greatest competitor isn't necessarily another brand in their industry -- it's an entrepreneur who engineers a way to provide similar services with speed (ask the hotel and transportation industries if they anticipated Airbnb and Uber).

Curated Commerce
Consumers are indulged with infinite options when it comes to products, entertainment, and activities. At times, teens and young adults can feel overwhelmed with options. Brands like Frank & Oak, which helps young men discover stylish clothing, or Tribeca Shortlist, a service that "hand picks" movies for its customers, are leading the way in simplifying the customer experience by offering on-target recommendations.

In 2016, more brands will begin to adopt a curated commerce strategy to make consumers' purchase decisions frictionless. This kind of curated commerce will not only allow for increased customer engagement, but act an alternative to hyper-competitive search marketing (searching "dark jeans" on Google returns 63 million results and unless you're Levis, Macy's, or Nordstrom's, SEM is a difficult tactic.). The experience consumers are looking for is one with fewer options and a boutique-like feel.

About Fuse
Fuse is a marketing agency founded in 1995 that connects brands with teens and young adults through sports, music, fashion, video gaming and other relevant cultural interests. Fuse's services include consumer insights, brand strategy, public relations, experiential marketing, creative services, and social media. The Fuse staff, led by Partners Bill Carter, Issa Sawabini and Brett Smith, is comprised of marketing professionals and cultural experts who have worked for some of the most prominent brands and agencies in the country. For more about Fuse, check out our website or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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