Rohit Bhargava’s Tips on How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future

I recently attended ad:tech SF 2015, where I had the pleasure of hearing from Rohit Bhargava, bestselling author of many books, including Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future. What I loved most about his speech is how actionable the ideas were (he gave a stealable idea with each trend) and how he teaches readers to be trend predictors too.

What Are the Key Trends? How Do We Know They’re Good?

Before I begin, let me say that Rohit spends a year collecting current data (and he’s been doing this for years). At the end of the year, he aggregates the information to identify trends. Some of his trend predictions have included “Obsessive Productivity” which I am guilty of, “MeFunding” (or crowdfunding), “Curation” and “Likeonomics” to name a few.

Here are four of the top 15 trends and ideas for how you can be a trend spotter. How you can use these trends in your marketing?

1. Imperfection On Purpose.

What is it? In it’s simplest terms, put things in misalignment on purpose so people notice. This stems from the belief that people seek out more personal and human experiences. To achieve this, brands can leverage quirkiness and intentional imperfection to be more human and desirable.


For example, to fight against food waste, Intermarché, the third largest supermarket chain in France, decided to sell (30% cheaper) imperfect fruits and vegetables; claiming “who cares in a soup.” And Hans Brinker hostel hotel launched a campaign declaring, “It can’t get any worse. But we’ll do our best.” The marketing is so iconic the hotel has a book about their marketing.

ugly carrot

What’s the stealable idea? Embrace your rare mistakes. Mistakes are going to happen in this era of fast-paced marketing, but make the most of it. For example, if your web page is broken, why not make light of it, share a haiku. The possibilities are limitless.

2. The Reluctant Marketer.

What is it? Gone are the days of the two-for-one special. Marketing is becoming broader than just promotion — it now encompasses the customer experience, which means focusing on solving problems and delivering excellent content, offerings and experience.

For example, Teatrenue Barcelona, a theater delivering comedy, experimented with a pay-per-laugh screen. The theater guaranteed that if their show was not funny, you would not pay. Ticket sales are up 18% from this because they are delivering value and in a creative way.

Coca Cola Small World Machines

Another more traditional example of value-added content is the age-old Weber grill books — the original content marketing. And finally, on a larger scale, Coca-Cola launched the “Small World Machine,” basically a new-age vending machine aimed and connecting Pakistan and India using touch screens and the idea of sharing a moment.

What’s the stealable idea? Be useful instead of promotional. Maybe you aren’t going to build a vending machine for world peace any time soon, but you can still move away from promotions to solving problems. Whether that means forgoing the traditional white paper that pushes your product for a useful article or helpful YouTube videos, start thinking what you can do today to solve customer problems and deliver excellent content.

3. Everyday Stardom.

What is it? With more personalization and big data, consumers have more opportunity to become heroes. This growth of personalization leads more consumers to expect every day interactions to be transformed into celebrity experiences.


Think of Miles Scott, the #Batkid, who told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that the one thing he wanted after being treated for leukemia was to be “Batkid” for a day. The Make-A-Wish Foundation made that possible along with 20,000+ other San Franciscans.

Or, consider the MagicBand from Disneyland. This wristband collects information and allows users to open their rooms, get into parks and collect photos. Disney characters can even greet users personally. The list goes on and on (for more, click here).

What’s the stealable idea? Everyone wants to be recognized and celebrated. Celebrate your customers; offer them VIP treatment. One of the examples I personally liked is how Weheartit uses their customers as brand affiliates for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Macys. Or a hotel in Bali offers the “world’s latest check-out” for valued customers. Consider ways you can start making your customers or prospects everyday heroes or stars.

4. Experimedia.

What is it? Content creators use social experiments and real-life interaction to study human behaviors and build more realistic and entertaining narratives.

For example, Esther Honig, a journalist, asked designers in 25 different countries to photoshop her face to make her beautiful — the results were so different that it underscored the question of, “What is beauty?” Dove has been very successful using this tactic — they crossed the 50 million-view mark on YouTube with its latest video, “Campaign for Real Beauty.” It has a former FBI sketch artist draw women’s faces — underscoring that they are more beautiful than they think.


What is the stealable idea? Leverage this trend to visualize complex topics and tell emotional stories. How can you leverage visuals and experiments to showcase impact or tell a complex story? Prudential designed a series of ads depicting real-life visual experiments with dominoes to demonstrate how just a small amount of money over time could grow.

For all 15 trends, check out Rohit Bhargava’s book, Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future, or read more on his blog.

About Tara Verner

Tara is CEO and Founder of Bee Direct Marketing. She has over 20 years of marketing experience helping nonprofits and companies drive donations and revenue with measurable marketing. View all posts by Tara Verner
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