Identifying upcoming trends can give marketers a leg up on the competition. The trick--to put it mildly--is being able to distinguish between a real trend and a passing fad.
That’s why CMO.com reached out to four experts, who told us about the megatrends marketers should be paying attention to over the next five years.
Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, told CMO.com:
The first megatrend I see is the unionization of the marketing and IT function into a new division aimed at improving the customer and employee experiences. This will expedite the process of aligning tech investments around specific purposes a lot faster and adapting over time.
Another big megatrend is the idea of the digital customer experience. There is going to be a rise in social science and its effect on marketing in terms of touch points like content strategy, mobile strategy, and marketing strategy, by simply reverse-engineering what the digital customer experience is versus what businesses think it is. This will be called digital anthropology.
Another megatrend I see is the rise of small data vs. big data. Small data allows marketers to hone in on data as it affects a particular pilot strategy. So if you envision it, the rise of small data is happening because marketers are doing all these [programs] and going after small data for a particular instance. Marketing becomes greater than the marketing function that it is today and becomes a big part of customer experience in every moment of truth. And the people leading the future of marketing become purveyors of customer truth.
Ben Jones, CTO of AKQA, told CMO.com in an email:
The world has changed, and it’s not about art and copy any longer. The new marketing team must have a deep understanding of technology and data, and need to move the focus from the big bang, large-budget TVC and supporting above-the-line campaigns. Technology is the nitro, the new superfuel. Art and algorithms in a data rich, supercomputing, real-time world will be the foundations in the next chapter of success. The consumer is tech-savvy and knows what is possible.
So what are these trends? Well there are many but, here are just a few to act upon.
• Pursuit of better: Brands and, therefore, marketing executives will be judged on the level of service that they offer before, in and after purchase. Brands will have to add value to the consumer’s life, and it’s going to be a two-way relationship. Fail to serve, and they will leave flippantly and yet kicking and screaming, digitally loud through a simple hashtag and critique.
• Individuality: Segmentation in its foundation is rudimentary. It’s the grouping and groups that are bad. One “high flyer” is totally different to another "high flyer.” The executive of tomorrow will have to focus on getting closer to the completely tailored conversation. Data tells us nearly everything factual about the consumer, whether it’s social use, site behavior, or CRM data. The goal for the marketing executive should be, “Do I know the consumers' little sister’s name, her dog’s walking route, or her favorite color?”
• Emotional and simple: The technology is already there. Emotional analysis understands how the consumer feels through facial expressions, and we all know that everything these days has a camera. Even contacts lenses of tomorrow will have a camera and facial expressions. This will allow the marketing executive to develop solutions and products that take this input and adapt the message.
• Marketing managers to product managers: It’s all about the product and the fabricated marketing messages and campaigns that are, more than ever, unauthentic. Authenticity rules from here onward, and if the product is not perfect, the company will cease to succeed. The solution is the traditional gap between the product manager and the marketing manager. Companies who close this gap quicker will be able to adapt the products faster.
Dave Marsey, EVP/managing director at DigitasLBi San Francisco, told CMO.com
The biggest megatrend senior marketers need to be obsessed with is the growth and influence of the Millennial and Gen Z generations. Most of them know no life without digital by their side and a "TV" on their laps or in their hands. And what’s on that "TV" is often not what's on our TV. We need a fundamental revolution in how we engage and market to these generations, rather than an evolution of what's working for Gen X and Boomers. Giving them access to the brand, being relevant and authentic, letting them collaborate--market together with them instead of marketing at them.
Michael Klein, director of retail industry strategy at Adobe, offered his retail perspective:
While we do hear about some retailers admitting that 40 percent of their sales are coming in through digital or e-commerce, the reality is, it is still a rarity. For most retailers, 90 percent of their sales happen in the store. Marketers will continue on the path of figuring out how to get the most of their physical stores and how to engage with a customer who is touching the brand via so many touch points.
Mobile is, and will continue to be, one of the biggest megatrends for retail. In 2013 mobile was all about store locators and helping customers find products. Then late 2013 into 2014, retailers began to talk a lot about NFC [near-field communications] and iBeacons. And mobile isn’t finished evolving.
The other megatrend retailers need to be watching is the evolution of the brick-and-mortar store. We’re already hearing a lot about a different mind-set when it comes to the physical store--things like going from heavy inventory to more services, and the notion of endless aisles.