As we enter 2011, economies all over the world are improving and, in some places like India, soaring. Businesses are looking forward to a business renaissance and we expect that the marketing landscape will be driven by four key trends.
1. Mobility: 2011 will be the year where the word ‘mobile’ is replaced by ‘mobility’. This expanded definition will include mobile phones, tablets and the increasing interconnectedness of devices, which allows for the mobility of content.
Mobile phones, now well over 2.5 billion strong, have always been a force, but increasingly they are not only becoming more powerful and useful, but being joined by tablets like the Samsung Galaxy and the Apple iPad. These tablets are a second form of devices that one can move around with. Finally, due to increased spread of broadband, faster home networking and government-based free broadband wireless in key areas of many cities, we see content moving easily from cloud to device and from device to device.
Marketers will need to prepare for changing consumer behaviour and expectations that mobility allows, which places a premium on speed, convenience and ability to interact with content seamlessly across devices.
2. Retail Renaissance: In a world where online and the Internet is growing, we will find a huge increase in innovation and interest in consumers of physical retail such as storefronts. This will be done to leverage digital technology and also because companies realise that physical presence is key to brand building and differentiation.
In less developed markets such as India, this will be manifested in continued huge retail outlets that combine shopping, food and entertainment and the increased professionalism of food and convenience stores as large companies such as Reliance invest in the retail experience. In more developed markets, we will see three growth areas: A) The link of the online and offline experience in a retail store, where mobile phones will allow one to get pricing and deals offered in stores using services such as Red Laser or Shop Kick; B) The investment in screen-based technology as well as increased service to make stores little ‘world fairs’ filled with excitement; and C) Brands launching ‘experiences’ and physical ways to bring their products alive, copying Apple and Nike.
3. Purpose Driven Marketing: A combination of the lingering impact of the 2008 meltdown, which challenged people’s trust in companies and experts, and the increased scope of social networks like Facebook, Okrut and Twitter are placing a premium on companies that are authentic, community driven and which can be trusted. People are less likely to listen to what you say, but how a company acts. If they see signs of hype or being misled, the social network or what we call ‘The People’s Network’ will spring into life.
In order to thrive in a social network world, companies will need to better express and understand their purpose and recognise they are both economic and social engines of their communities and countries. Areas such as sustainability, community service and contributions to a greater good will be how brands will be increasingly evaluated.
4. Paid, Owned, Earned (POE) will replace Analog/ Digital and Above Line/ Below Line in marketing vernacular: Because of the Internet and social networks, marketers and their agencies will utilise the terms ‘paid, owned and earned’ in their vocabulary more than the analog/ digital or above the line/ below the line lingo of the past.
It has become clear that marketers today have three ways to connect to their customers. They can do so by spending money in advertising and promotion among other things. This is Paid media. They have the opportunity to leverage their own physical assets from packaging to storefronts or their own content/ service assets such as film, database and expertise, which is Owned media. And finally, because of social networks, they can listen and engage with what people are saying and passing along about their brand, which is Earned media.
All evidence suggests that these three media types need to be connected and leveraged together. How companies organise, partner and measure across this platform will be a key development from 2011 onwards.
We have always believed that the future of marketing is bright because as consumers have more control, marketers need to better understand and meet their customer requirements, This will force all of us to become better marketers. With the wide array of tools available to us today, it is indeed a golden age to both market and to rethink marketing, as we know it.
(Rishad Tobaccowala is Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer and member of the Management Board at Publicis-owned VivaKi.)