Marketers are constantly looking into the future, trying to predict the next big trend, be it for their brands or their clients. Naturally, marketers are preoccupied with questions like: What is the next big campaign? How can we turn our client into the “next big thing”? What is the next hot trend going to be in retail? Etc. Everyone wants to the answers. Knowing this, what do some of the top minds in marketing predict for their own futures? A recent article by Jeff Beer on Fast Company Create collected 25 future trends that will change the marketing landscape five years from now based on top innovators in marketing and advertising. After reading this, I started to ponder what I saw as the top trends driving marketing.
Here are the 10 trends that I think are going to have the biggest impact on the future of marketing.
1. Mobile is going to become the center of marketing. From cell phones to smartphones, tablets to wearable gadgets, the evolution of mobile devices is one of the prime factors influencing the marketing world. As the focus is shifting to smaller screens, brands will be able to strike up a more personalized relationship with their customers by leveraging the power of mobile.
2. Transparency will dictate brand-customer relationships. Currently, customers are seeking more engagement from brands. This trend will continue with customers becoming more demanding in their expectation of transparency. Genuine brands – the ones that “walk the talk” and create real value – will be rewarded. This means brands that still haven’t made their customer dealings transparent are headed to a future of doom.
3. The need for good content will not slow down. Ever. Content, particularly visual content, will rule the roost in the online marketing world, evolving into various forms and disrupting the conventional marketing models. Moreover, the speed at which a brand can create amazing content will play a part in their success.
4. User-generated content will be the new hit. The power of user-generated content will surpass branded content as brands begin to relinquish control of their own brands’ marketing to their customers. From online reviews, to social media posts and blogs, this means there will be a strong need for brands to create a positive impact in their consumers’ minds. In response to this model of content production, content co-creation between brands and consumers will become a popular trend.
5. Social will become the next Internet. Social will become an integral part of the “broader marketing discipline.” As its impact grows stronger, most brands will fully transition their marketing efforts to social channels. As such, social has the full potential to become not just one of the channels but the channel.
6. Brands will own their audience. By cultivating brand community and entering into direct conversations with their customers, brands will begin to own their audience in a way that will create loyalists and brand advocates. In the future of marketing, branding and marketing efforts will have their seeds rooted in what customers are talking about. The customers’ responses and feelings toward the brand will dictate future campaigns. Essentially, if the customers are happy, they’ll gladly wear the marketer’s hat and do what is needed to bring their favorite brand in focus.
7. Brands solely-focused on Millennials will go out of relevance. Brands will need to understand that the millennials are not a niche "youth" segment but a generation of people who will ultimately give way to a newer generation. Therefore, millennial-focused brands will have to change their game to stay relevant.
8. Good brands will behave like product companies and not like service companies. While service companies aim to create a happy customer and look forward to a contract renewal, product companies thrive on innovation. So, for brands of the future, customer satisfaction and retention will not be enough. They will need to innovate more efficiently to create more value for their customers. However, great service will NEVER go out of style.
9. Personalized, data-driven marketing will become more refined. There is a difference between data-driven marketing and intrusive marketing. While the former is based on relationship-building, the latter is nothing but old-school push marketing wrapped in a new cover. The difference between these two formats will become even more prominent in future. Marketers who focus on relationship building will be rewarded, while intruders will be shut out.
10. More accurate metrics will surface. What most brands do in the name of measuring marketing success is look at hollow “vanity” metrics such as likes, shares, or tweets. Even in terms of data mining, we are still developing more sophisticated means to capture the right data. Many ideas are hypothesized, but few are practical. The future will witness the rise of better analytical tools to help marketers gauge the success of their campaigns.