Non-obvious trends and what they mean for customer experience – Interview with Rohit Bhargava

trend marketing

Today’s interview is with Rohit Bhargava, who is a trend curator, author of five best selling books (including the Wall Street Journal bestseller “Non-Obvious”) and founder of the Influential Marketing Group (IMG). Rohit joins me today to talk about his latest book: Non-Obvious (2017): How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future, what it’s about and what we can learn from it.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Using AI and EQ to build emotional connections with customers at scale – Interview with Joshua Feast of Cogito – and is number 206 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my interview with Rohit:

  • Rohit has been publishing a trend report every year for the last 7 years. Each report contains 15 trends that will affect businesses in the coming year.
  • The book was borne out of a frustration with the raft of ‘predictions’ that emerge towards the end of every year. Most of the predictions that come out are way too obvious, not really trends and not very useful.
  • The book covers 15 new trends across 5 categories including Culture & Consumer Behaviour, Marketing & Social Media, Media & Education, Technology & Design plus Economics & Entrepreneurship.
  • Each trend is followed by three tips for what companies should do about this trend.
  • Rohit goes into a few relevant trends:
    • Passive loyalty – There is a myth in business that says we either have loyal customers or we don’t. However, there are lots of ’shades of loyalty’ in between these extremes. So, if many customers are passively loyal then the challenge to companies is how do they earn true loyalty of belief and advocacy versus the loyalty of convenience? Tip: you can’t move your customers from being passively loyal to being actively loyal if you don’t know which ones are passively loyal and which ones are actively loyal. Therefore, companies need to get smarter about segmenting their customers. This is not as straightforward as it sounds.
    • Invisible technology -The more sophisticated technology gets, the more it is able to anticipate needs, protect us and provide utility while increasingly blending un-noticeably into our daily lives. For example, Amazon’s Echo which has no user interface and is wholly voice activated. Another couple of examples include the special powder that is used to allow airplane wings to ‘self-heal’ little cracks or the ‘thirsty concrete’ that has been developed that can soak up water and help avoid some the false floods that can happen on roads.
    • Robot Renaissance – This trend discusses the increased utility and application of robots in many different areas, including robot butlers in hotels. However, Rohit asks an interesting question….imagine you are in a lift in a hotel and the robot butler gets in and doesn’t press any buttons (as the system knows where it needs to be taken)….then what happens? What do you say? How do you feel? How does the robot interact with the person so that the person doesn’t freak out? These are the challenges and questions that companies need to answer if they are to successfully adopt and implement robot technology in their businesses.
    • Mainstream Mindfulness – This trend discusses how practices like meditation, yoga and quiet contemplation are starting to be used much more widely as ways to improve performance, employee engagement, productivity, wellness and motivation.Commenting on how organisations themselves rather than individuals are becoming more mindful, Rohit sees things like mandated free thinking time or a compulsory five minute silence at the beginning of meetings to encourage people to become more present and focus on why they are at the meeting and what is it’s purpose. This reminded me of Aldous Huxley’s last book: Island, where minor birds around the island have been trained to continually speak then words ‘Be here now’ (Ed: Actually the birds say ‘Here & Now’).
  • Rohit also highlights another trend that be believes will become of increasing relevance when it comes to customer service/experience and that is:
    • Fierce Femininity – This trend talks to how gender is becoming more fluid and the new power that is coming from the ‘feminine’ side of thinking and how that is leading people to be more successful, whether male or female.
  • Rohit’s book also describes in great depth how he comes up with these trends and the methods that he uses as he believes that anyone can predict the future given the right tools and it shouldn’t be the sole domain of ‘futurists’.
  • Rohit recommends that companies consider the workshops that they run as a way of interpreting what trends (and others) are applicable to them and how they can use them.
  • But, he also says that companies should consider developing their own in-house capability around curating trends and thinking about how they apply to their business.
  • Wow service/experience for Rohit is when you teach people in customer service to be proactively honest in ways that they don’t have to be.
  • Do check out Rohit’s book: Non-Obvious (2017): How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future and grab yourself a copy.
  • Rohit would also like to encourage people to get in touch with him and you can do that here or do email him directly at

About Rohit (taken from his IMG bio page)

Rohit Bhargava

Rohit Bhargava is a trend curator who believes in sharing “non-obvious” ideas. He is the author of five best selling business books including Non-Obvious (Wall Street Journal bestseller in early 2015) and Likeonomics (shortlisted for Best Sales/Marketing Book of the Year by 1800CEORead.

Outside of writing, Rohit has advised hundreds of global brands as a former executive at Ogilvy and is currently founder of the Influential Marketing Group – an independent strategic consulting practice based in Washington DC.

A popular and non-boring keynote speaker, Rohit has been invited to headline events in 31 countries around the world where his popular talks have inspired audiences from 10 to 10,000 people to lead with personality, create more human organizations and even learn to predict the future.

His thinking on business trends have been viewed more than half a million times online and his personal blog has been named one of the top 25 marketing blogs in the world by AdAge magazine. Rohit also teaches marketing and pitching at Georgetown University and is regularly quoted as an expert in media including Harvard Business Review, The Guardian, and NPR.

He is a lifelong fan of anything having to do with the Olympics (he’s been to four so far!), actively avoids anything having to do with cauliflower (yuck!), and has dedicated his career to helping brands and leaders be more influential by embracing their humanity and personality.

Check out Rohit’s book: Non-Obvious (2017): How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future, email him directly at, connect with him on LinkedIn here or say Hi to him on Twitter @rohitbhargava.






Photo Credit: stevesorensennetworth Flickr via Compfight cc

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