Marketing At The Speed Of Transformation
I am often asked what I think will define the future of marketing. Well, trying to predict the future is always a risky thing to do; most of us are terrible at it. But if I had to bet on what the immediate and near-term will hold, I would mention the following trends that are slated to impact top-line, bottom-line, and end-customer experiences.
Consumer Purchasing decisions will become even more complex
Consumers today are using all kinds of media to make shopping decisions – from YouTube to Facebook to Delivery Aggregators like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. It’s becoming increasingly harder to put the people that buy certain products into a well-defined box like earlier. Consumer categories like mainstream, or high and low end, are starting to dissipate. Consumer segmentation is getting even more complex. The same customer can buy one high-end product and one low-end product simultaneously. People select which consumer products they want to buy with an unbalanced mix of emotions and rationale. They might not have any emotional connection to a category and with Covid-19 and the Financial Recession the world faces, spending has become a lot more “discretionary”.
Personalization in product design and communications will rule
Thanks to big data, social media and flexible manufacturing, enterprises are learning to offer customized products and designs. This trend is reaching a growing number of industries, including the health sector. While pharma companies continue to treat all patients in more or less the same way, they will soon be moving towards personalized medication based on differences such as age, sex, weight, and medical history. Life & General Insurance will follow as much as Gifting and Travel. Watch out for many other industries to start following suit.
Mobile communications will be at the centre of everything
There have been rumblings in the media recently about WhatsApp giving Facebook its users’ phone numbers to deliver targeted ads. Although getting a text message about one of your favourite products may seem intrusive, so is telemarketing and that hasn’t gone away. Look out for companies to communicate with consumers more and more via their mobile devices. May God and AI rescue us!
Transparency will dictate brand-customer relationships
From Kingfisher to Enron, the list of disgraced companies keeps getting longer. Businesses are realizing that they cannot escape the transparency offered by social media. More companies are learning the lesson that if they aren’t truthful, they will pay the price: not only hefty fines from the authorities but also lost loyalty and business from their customers.
Personalized data-driven marketing will be friendlier
Thanks to big data, companies are learning an awful lot about who you are and what you like. They will get keep getting better at targeting you and communicating with you in the most effective way depending on who you are and what your habits say about you. Don’t say goodbye to spam just yet, but the companies that figure out how to stop casting their one-size-fits-all messages less widely, and start targeting people in a more meaningful way, will win. Get ready to receive the “Failed Class X, enrol now” to “Want a 5 Lac loan in 5 minutes!” kind of messages.
More accurate metrics will emerge
Until recently, justifying and measuring the impact of their decisions has often been a major challenge for marketers. Today, there are many ways to measure online activity – likes on Facebook, clicks on articles, and so on – but many of them are not fully meaningful yet. Facebook was recently caught amplifying data about how many videos were viewed on its platform. Think about the ramifications for advertisers who thought they were getting more bang for their buck! But this should change soon. Remember when people used to talk about not knowing which half of their advertising budget was wasted? Well, this should be approaching somewhere closer to 20% soon. Measurement will probably never be perfect, but digital technology is improving it. Will we ever know the exact trajectory of who views an ad and then opens their wallet to buy a particular product? I’m not so sure. But that is what marketers dream of.
Talent & Process will make the marketing organization increasingly move from digital silos to integrated teams
A few years ago you would have the digital team on one side and the marketing team on the other. It can no longer be that way. Digital has to be part of everything now so the two have to be fully integrated. As one marketer recently suggested: Companies do not necessarily need a digital strategy, what they really need to know is how to plug the digital component into the complex process of how consumers make purchasing decisions!
These are just some of the trends I see happening in marketing over the next few years but there will certainly be others. That’s what’s great about my job; we get to discuss these and other ideas with some brilliant marketers like you and ensure that DATA RULES, CREATIVITY PREVAILS.
Indraneel Ganguli (IG) is a Brand Builder and a Marketing Professional, actively involved in supporting enterprises with their Awareness, Narrative and Revenue generation objectives. Until recently, IG was leading the marketing function of Tech Mahindra as Head Marketing: Brand & Business. He now runs a consortium of agencies under REACHIG (“Reach-IG”), as a specialist Brand & Marketing consulting and services consortium. In the last 25 years with some of India's best corporates and brand agencies (Tech Mahindra, Airtel, Tata Technologies, Lintas, Clarion, Percept), as well as leadership roles at various Industry Forums, he is poised to serve the future of business and talent.