This article is part of our series about 2019 trends, predictions, and new opportunities. Click here for more.
It’s that time of the year again, when CMO.com poses a single, forward-looking question to a slew of brands, industry experts, and thought leaders we’ve spoken to in previous months for our articles.
With each passing year, we’re continually impressed by how on-the-mark they’ve been, whether predicting about the future of customer experience, digital transformation, or, when the concept was still a novelty, digital marketing.
This time around we asked: Which consumer trends are you watching most closely and why?
Their answers don’t disappoint. Read on for all of the insightful responses we received in this, our eighth annual global predictions extravaganza. Answers are presented alphabetically by last name.
Purpose-driven marketing, as consumers are looking for brands that are bold enough to take a stand and lead open, public conversations. We already have seen this with successful brands on Twitter this year, and there is definitely more to come in 2019.
—Jolanta Baboulidis, Country Director, Twitter Germany
I expect to see the polarity between data privacy and personalization to continue. The ethics of data usage will get raised as more brands experience data breaches.
—Abhijit Bhaduri, Founder, Abhijit Bhaduri And Associates
In today’s digital world, consumers are increasingly craving emotive experiences that engage them on a deeper level. For brands, there’s a significant opportunity to fulfill this need through experiential marketing.
—Jennifer Breithaupt, Global Consumer CMO, Citi
IDC believes that customer consent, high-quality customer-vendor conversations, and customer journeys should be the focus of consumer marketers in 2019. AI will have a big role in facilitating these.
—Gerry Brown, Research Director, Software, IDC Europe
People are viewing their lives more holistically. Healthcare is one example, where newer technologies like wearables are teaching people to connect the different aspects of their daily experiences—like sleep, fitness, diet, and more. To succeed in 2019, marketers must follow suit and shift their focus from how they can fit into a category to how they can fit into—and improve—people’s lives.
—Becky Chidester, CEO, Wunderman Health
We should pay attention to “benefit-oriented consumption.” In 2019 it will be a new trend for consumers to find the way to get the best benefit by consuming in the same budget [rather than] the smartest way to buy products. Specifically, product experience, seasonal rentals, a combination of products and services, and purpose-appropriate package purchases will be in full swing.
—Chang-Hee Choi, Director, Consumer Goods Rental Department, LOTTE Rental
For me, it’s convenience of platform. As user experience improves on existing and new platforms, which can serve the user better, faster, and more securely?
—Tim Clark, Vice President Of Digital Media, NASCAR
The digital leaders of tomorrow need to look at technology from a creativity and design perspective—not just an efficiency perspective. To get CX right, its delivery should span the entire organisation—from CMOs to CIOs to creative leads—through collaborative, enabling technologies.
—Alvaro Del Pozo, VP Of Marketing, Adobe APAC
Record holiday sales of voice-activated devices will accelerate voice command usage. Expect well-designed, secure, voice-first experiences to be on the top of your customers' CX wish list in 2019.
—Julie Diaz-Asper, Founding Partner, Social Lens
As consumer-facing technologies and channels continue to accelerate—from voice skills to connected experiences—the ways in which we interact with these technologies will create new consumer behaviors and expectations.
—Mel Edwards, Global CEO, Wunderman
Using digital technology to create and scale authentic, meaningful experiences for the sophisticated and unimpressionable Gen Z audience. They prefer brands that stand for ideals that they care about.
—Ben Foo, CMO, Taylor's University
In 2019 we’ll see an increase in sustainable marketing for good as more brands define their purpose in the world. People will support, buy, and promote brands that align with their own values and, in return, will expect even more relevant and personal experiences as brands use data in smarter ways.
—Martha Hiefield, CEO, Americas, POSSIBLE
In 2019 we’ll start to see some of the powerful effects of AR and VR in our most innovative businesses, as well as highly complex personalization starting to impact even more traditional industries.
—Jack Hylands, General Manager Of Strategy And New Product, RMIT
Tech is enabling more flexible work. Americans spend as much time freelancing as watching Netflix (1 billion hours weekly). People will start spending more hours productively earning money versus watching television.
—Stephane Kasriel, CEO, Upwork
There’s a backlash coming against creepy advertising and cocksure marketers. Consumers will use their new privacy rights to make themselves harder to track, leaving marketers scrambling to keep personalization alive.
—Fatemeh Khatibloo, Principal Analyst, Forrester
The growing expectation for brand experiences on the entire customer journey to be seamless. Customer-centric, omnichannel marketing requires the right combination of integrative technology, solutions, and expertise. This is what companies are looking for.
—Elian Kool, CEO, Netcentric, A Cognizant Digital Business
The perfect mix of online and offline. While digital has blazed forward in recent years, leaving many to question the lasting significance of traditional offline vehicles, the pendulum is swinging back toward a midpoint where both online and offline channels play complementary roles in the customer experience. Consumers continue to demand well-designed, personalized digital experiences at every turn, but they equally crave the on-demand satisfaction of a great in-store experience or the inexplicable power of community that exists at a live event. Creativity will never go out of style. It’s at the core of every great experience. Marketers who can deliver the ideal blend of online and offline experiences with creativity at the center will win the hearts and minds of customers for years to come.
—Ann Lewnes, EVP & CMO, Adobe
We will see a “return to trust” movement fueled by today’s politically charged environment. Consumers will gravitate toward authentic, trustworthy companies committed to delivering unmatched value, convenience, and personalization.
—Jim Lyski, CMO, CarMax
Brands and consumers will work more closely to make the world a better place. Not only will consumers be more demanding of brands to make a positive impact, but brands will facilitate connections and interactions with consumers and the world, stimulating imaginations on what is possible and encouraging them to build it together.
—Lisa Matthews, Retail Strategy Director & Head Of Jack, Frost Collective
Customer experiences will stop differentiating individuals as a B2C consumer through one lens and a B2B buyer through another lens. Individuals don’t turn off a part of themselves and due to improvements in data and technology, brands will no longer have to make the distinction.
—Josh Mueller, Global Head of Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet
Consumers continue to want great digital experiences but are also increasingly mindful of maintaining control over the data they share. A successful business outcome means delivering products that tick both of those boxes.
—Tessa O’Rorke, Digital Sales & Strategy, Westpac New Zealand
Technology allows us to do lots today that we couldn’t imagine yesterday. However, choosing when to use technology and when to rely on human interface will decide who delivers a sustained, great experience.
—Viral Oza, CMO, Lodha Group
Consumer loyalty will be more heavily driven by authentic corporate diversity and ethics, as well as ecological and social responsibility. Brand marketing strategies that express this authenticity through both traditional and digital tactics will be successful.
—Barbara Pamplin, President & Head Of Strategy, Pamplin Digital Marketing
I am watching how customer data, and a company’s ability to collect and protect that data, influences and affects consumer trust and relationships with brands. The Trust Economy is here.
—Jeffrey Penner, Executive Director, EY
IoT. Consumers are more connected than ever, and we’re starting to see more nontraditional items capable of processing payments. This presents unique opportunities for Visa to improve the consumer journey in deeply personalized ways.
—Mary Ann Reilly, SVP Of North America Marketing, Visa
I believe the most important trends for 2019 will be deeper brand engagement with consumers, usage of AI to streamline communication, and experiences across all interactions—curated for everyone based in deep insights.
—Martin Roll, Business & Brand Strategist
Consumers will continue to become more aware of what data/information they have out there and will become more demanding (rightfully!) about their privacy and what companies are doing with their data. This will change the way companies are able to leverage insights to deliver value. Additionally, consumers will want to shop and engage with companies that are more ethically focused and doing good for society and the environment.
—Rob Roy, Chief Digital Officer, Sprint
Technologies that mimic how humans interact with the world are trends to watch out for. Voice communication (assistance) is one such that consumers won’t be able to function without.
—Abhay Singhal, Co-Founder & President Of Advertising Cloud, inMobi
Customers will become increasingly design-sensitive. They will gravitate to businesses that expose their historical interactions and translate them into personalized, crafted digital experiences. They expect “delightfulness,” such as what they get from Uber or Airbnb. Customers will equate great execution to credibility.
—Kelly Smith, SVP & Chief Digital Officer, MGM Resorts International
We have just skimmed the surface on how artificial intelligence will amplify human intelligence and help us be more efficient, creative, and analytical. As we head into the new year, it’s exciting to think about how we can apply AI and machine learning within the enterprise to remediating issues and outages across our platforms and systems without human intervention. It’s what we are calling a “self-healing platform,” and it’s a ground-breaking application of AI/ML as a business enabler.
—Cynthia Stoddard, SVP & CIO, Adobe
Voice control and interaction, AR solutions, as well as mobile payment will have their breakthrough at scale. Plus consumers are getting more used to frictionless experience and expect from brands to deliver such.
—Christian Wilkens, Chief Digital Officer, MediaCom Germany
Consumers are using social to interact with brands, make buying decisions, and get support. It’s critical that brands build social into their strategy to deliver a compelling customer experience and achieve business results.
—Penny Wilson, CMO, Hootsuite
The consumer trend that I will be paying close attention to in 2019 is the shift away from Facebook to other alternative social communities—certainly for privacy concerns, but also to seek other specialized content and community in their areas of interest, such as home renovation, personal styling, pets, health and wellness, etc. Businesses are also starting to leverage this audience and introducing interesting business models.
—Elke Wong, Principle, Ground Up Advisory Services
Today the internet can give consumers the illusion of connectedness, but often times falls flats. In 2019, we’re looking at how our content and experiences can to bring communities closer together in more meaningful ways.
—Andy Yost, CMO, Gannett and USA Today Network
The continued rise of social commerce. To be at the meeting point of social media and commerce requires speed and agility. It’s about developing a “living” marketing capability that can sense, respond, and even predict in real time to ensure relevancy for consumers and value for brands.
—John Zealley, Global Senior Managing Director For Customer And Channels, Accenture