What’s trending this Spring?

Almost three months into 2021 and despite lockdown still looming over us here in the UK, there finally seems to be a real end in sight this time following the government’s welcoming roadmap out of lockdown (Beer gardens to open in April? Yes please!).

Before we dive into the main tech headlines for March, it wouldn’t be right to talk about the UK news agenda without acknowledging the recent and tragic death of Sarah Everard in London and how it has highlighted issues of women’s safety in society. Many women, including myself, have reflected on experiences where we’ve felt unsafe or harassed while doing mundane, everyday activities and how these issues are often brushed under the carpet. This isn’t the first time violence against women and women’s safety has been highlighted in the media and online and it certainly won’t be the last either but it’s clear that change needs to happen – the government recently reopened its call for evidence to further develop its Violence Against Women and Girls strategy and the activist group, Reclaim These Streets, has already done a tremendous job of raising money for women’s charities, so there is plenty of movement on the topic, but we have a long way to go yet.

Back to the world of tech now, and both Facebook and Google have found themselves in hot water once again, this time with Australia and the news ban saga. In short, Australia passed a new, world-first law which would make Facebook and Google pay for news content on their platforms. The big tech platforms bit back with threats to block all news content to Australians before eventually agreeing deals with the like of News Corp to pay for content. It’s been an interesting story to follow from a comms perspective because while journalism remains a core communication pillar for people to gain knowledge and news from across the world, with Google and Facebook being the main drivers of this communication in some instances, it’s important for news publications to be protected but also have fair opportunity to thrive in the digital world.

Elsewhere, Bitcoin has made its way back onto our newsfeeds again following yet another surge in market cap, which saw it reach above $1 trillion in mid-March. The rise has seen calls for further regulation from the financial industry as it continues to break records, most notably from deVere CEO, Nigel Green, who said a regulatory framework for Bitcoin is needed for investor protection. Regulation or not, Bitcoin doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon!

Onto the automotive industry and some major green pushes from Volvo and Volkswagen, which both announced plans to sell more electric cars. Volvo announced plans to sell only electric cars by 2030, while Volkswagen says it will sell 1m electric or hybrid cars this year, a huge target that further shows the acceleration of sustainability initiatives among brands. No doubt once we’ve weathered the pandemic, sustainability and climate change will (and should) be our next global challenge to overcome and further develop. We’ve already seen a huge number of brands focus comms campaigns on sustainability as it becomes a key pillar in reputation building and shaping, and it’ll be interesting to see what other tech brands have in store this year to tackle the climate crisis.

Finally, Amazon opened its first checkout-free supermarket in the UK this month in West London, paving the way for a new kind of retail experience. Thanks camera and sensors, or as its aptly named, “Just Walk Out” technology, shoppers are able to simply pick up the items they want and walk out without the need to pay at a check out. Already launched in the US, the Amazon Go stores sure have that novelty factor that will no doubt entice customers to try it out but with the state of high streets in the UK at the moment and shopping habits shifting, it’ll be interesting to see how this technology plays out and whether it will help or hinder brick and mortar retail.

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