Every year we hit the “what’s next?” button hoping that by adequately understanding what’s looming in the horizon we will be better prepared for it. Neuroscience and evolutionary biology tell us that this is the brain’s prime directive. It has evolved to determine what comes next in order to create a sense of trust in an environment that is fraught with unknown risks and potential dangers. We read the astrology section in newspapers (for those who still read words on dead trees) and go through “These are the trends for next year” articles for the same reason.
I don’t have a magic ball but what I do have is access to marketing information from some of the global companies I work with and advise on social media marketing and the direction in which things are changing across the board is revealing.
Technology is giving us more data than ever before and more ways to use the data we gather to reach those who are our audience. In search, marketing, branding, sales, manufacturing and banking the fundamental trends shaping the future are unmistakable:
- Personalization – Everything gets increasingly customized, personalized and predictive. The use of artificial intelligence to trawl through the personal data that is being collected and understand it better is changing everything, from the ads we see to the search results we get, the suggestions YouTube and Netflix are giving us and the way shops, brands, stores, banks, retailers and marketers approach us. Email marketing is dying off, generic advertising is disappearing and brands that fail to build a relationship with their customers will struggle and fail irrespective of how iconic, old or big they used to be.
- Experience – The experience trumps everything else because experiences create memories and memories guide feelings. Feelings drive actions. Anything that fails to create a sense of wellbeing, feelgood, satisfaction or trust will only result in missed opportunities and costly customer acquisition efforts. From websites and apps that provide simplicity and clarity and engender trust to shops and malls that create a unique feeling. Studies show that good brand in-hand experiences lead to an 85% intention to purchase and a 4:1 ROI.
- Awareness – Mindful, present, actively evaluating and critically thinking are the buzzwords of the coming year, describing consumer behavior, innovators’ drive, marketers’ mindset and brands’ presence. These things affect everything because they work at the interface where affective behavior meets calls to action. This makes this coming year the moment when sniper marketing modalities become key to human interactions. Consider the fact that influencer marketing is just one manifestation of all this.
- Usefulness – “Mobile first” changes to “mobile usually” as consumers, brands, marketers and pretty much everyone who isn’t tethered to a post deep in the woods, uses technology to communicate, research, broadcast, purchase, advertise, promote and consume information, on the go. This last trend makes the previous three, strict requirements in order to translate into any kind of “relationship” between a potential customer and a digital business.
We are now firmly in the grip of the 21st century. We are beginning to see headlines, for instance, that would have made no sense 13 years ago and films that would have made no sense at any time in the 20th century. Change will accelerate. The “how” of our actions will morph as we adapt to new capabilities, new contexts and even new realities. What won’t change is the “why”. Human interactions, what drives them, how it affects them and what happens next, are now key.
Check out the “Searching” trailer below: