Marketing trends to watch out for in 2020

We got industry heads to weigh in on the changes and challenges that the marketing industry has been witnessing

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Dec 31, 2019 2:15 PM



As we approach the end of the year, it’s a great time to look ahead at where we are heading as an industry and the marketing trends we are likely to see more of in 2020.

So we asked industry heads to look back at what fuelled marketing in 2019 and weigh in the top marketing trends to look forward to in the year upon us.

Koshy George, CMO, Marico Limited

2019 has been a landmark year for the brand marketing space in India. One of the biggest trends seen has been the increasing use of hashtag challenges on social media to drive traffic and awareness. From Instagram to TikTok even YouTube, hashtag challenges have been used to create a strong and deep connection with consumers by giving them an opportunity to directly engage with the brand or the brand ambassadors. Driving this largely through macro and nano influencers (another trend that has exponentially grown in 2019), brands are able to increase their reach and top-of-mind recall. For instance, Marico’s Hair & Care recently launched a TikTok challenge around the campaign #KhuleBaalBefikar. The activity saw 2.8 million videos created with multiple, fun takes on free flowing hair.

This year, companies have also become increasingly socially conscious in their marketing campaigns by championing causes close to the brands - be it education, women’s rights, equality, mental health or religious tolerance. Further, we have seen brands actively challenge existing societal and gender norms through their communication. For instance, male grooming brands are redefining masculinity by tackling ‘the male stereotype’ or Nihar Naturals’ Akai Aiksho initiative which brought women who have broken societal barriers to the forefront.

Moment marketing is another trend that has witnessed huge traction this year, whereby brands leveraged certain viral moments that took place through the year. The #RahulBoseMoment was of course the biggest, where other brands took to social media instantly to show how their products were priced, compared to the two bananas. Marico’s Coco Soul too, leveraged this moment, showing that consumers could buy all five flavours of our Coconut Chips with that same amount and still have money to spare.

Brands are increasingly moving beyond showcasing greatness to storytelling to engage and build lasting relationships with their audience. In the face of this, brands are becoming bolder with their advertising choices, which will only amplify in 2020.

Kashyap Vadapalli, CMO, Pepperfry

In 2019, prominent brands were seen engaging in topical conversations about general interest events across social media platforms. Through the conversations brands successfully managed to engage consumers beyond just interacting with their category. Today, an increasing number of socially aware brands are undertaking topical campaigns in an attempt to leverage these trends to build consumer affinity beyond just transactions. Obviously these engagements should be topical, non-intrusive, sensitive and authentic.

In 2020, a prominent trend will be the utilization of Machine Learning to filter audiences for targeted campaign outreach. Implementation of Machine Learning in campaigns will help brands to improve both targeting and messaging by marketing to micro-segments with very well identified needs or interests.

At Pepperfry, too, we have begun to dabble in these areas in a more systematic manner, which has led to higher rates of traction on key metrics. I, therefore, think that these practices will be widespread among marketers in 2020.

Sumit Mathur, Director Marketing, Kellogg South Asia

‘Traditional made convenient’ is a phenomenon which is currently underway. As the lives of consumers get busier and the culture of ‘sit down meals’ is gradually eroding, convenient shopping, cooking and eating is shaping our food culture. Simultaneously what’s reinstilling pride in Indians is the ‘cultural heritage’ that the entire world looks at India with. Preserving some traditions by making meals convenient is a trend which will stay. For example, Kellogg introduced the ‘Real Range of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes’ – Thandai Badam, Kesar Pista Badam and Rose Badam this year. Created in consultation with celebrity chef Ranveer Brar, these variants have been inspired by flavours that Indians have a strong cultural connection to. They are enriched with the ingredients which have been embraced by the Indian palate for decades.

Another trend to watch out for is the relationship of consumers with food is going beyond three square meals a day. The concept of brunch, high tea or late night snack is not new. But lately these meals are emerging as a staple requirement with traditional meals. As the fourth or the fifth meal a day catches more attention, brands have to keep a simultaneous watch on the rising number of ‘health conscious’ consumers. They are becoming more conscious about making their meals nourishing and light on the stomach.

Manisha Lath Gupta, Marketing Director, Uber, India

Let’s take a look at the big marketing trends we witnessed in 2019.

Power of vernacular: From OTT content to advertising, we are observing that the local, regional material is crucial in order to build a connect with the consumers and drive the brand forward. We are working with a segmentation, targeting and positioning model, and one language does not fit all.

Reinventing storytelling: Advertising has evolved over a period of time. From interactive advertisements to dynamic creative optimization, chatbots to VR, advertising is so much more than an ad spot. There is nothing more dangerous than similarity; to be compelling and unforgettable, marketers need to connect with audiences, pull at their heartstrings, and engage with them on a much deeper level than seen before.

Now, let’s look at what we should watch out for in 2020.

Personalization: This will continue to be a theme as marketers try to serve the right piece of communication at the right time to their customers. Dynamic Creative Optimization will aid creation of personalised messaging based on profiles of customers.

Purpose-led marketing: Purpose sits firmly at the heart of a brand’s vision and informs every business decision. Smart, purpose-led brands see their customers as stakeholders more than buyers who are investing time, money and attention into the brands they love. Understanding how to instil a sense of brand love, recognition and belongingness through a clear and relevant purpose has now become a prerequisite for competitiveness.

Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, Tourism Australia

2019 was a year that saw a wave of ground-breaking campaigns and emerging marketing trends that influenced consumer purchase decisions and awareness extensively. One such prominent trend was the creation and utilization of vernacular content by brands in collaboration with new-age platforms to reach out to a wider demographic. This methodology enabled brands to not just create awareness but also build affinity across markets.

Throughout the year, brands also utilized a combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence to aid them with a more filtered approach to consumer targeting. This predictive mechanism of customer analytics is useful whilst selecting potential target audiences for any campaign.

In 2020, I foresee marketers across industries undertaking AI-powered computer visions, which will also support search actions. Through this process, users can locate a product they desire by uploading an image and the tool will then search for and demonstrate that product or category.

Artificial Intelligence can also be used for sentiment analysis and social listening. Sentiment analysis is the process of understanding the underlying consumer emotions or sentiment towards your brand by tracking their conversations across social ecosystems.

Another trend that has been prominent for the past two years but will gain further momentum in 2020 will be curating engaging original content in collaboration with influencer platforms for a targeted consumer segment, given the rise of OTT platforms and new age portals.

Neeraj Bahl, MD & CEO, BSH Household Appliances

2019 witnessed a major shift towards artificial intelligence, machine learning, experiential marketing and automation. After years of social, economic and political change, technology has been the forerunner of a complete transformation. With Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning having created a new ecosystem of constant engagement and consumption, the demand for smart home appliances is increasing. There has been a steady growth in the last few years but major metros like Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru still remain the top locations in terms of acceptance of this technology.

As AI gets smarter and further permeates our lives, the need for professionals with liberal arts/humanities studies will only increase. In 2020, trends will be shaped by the millennial market and huge leaps in technology, taking it to the next level. Augmented Reality (AR) will also be major driver of innovation in almost every industry. We are also looking forward to an age of smart and connected homes as the world of home automation is changing and converging.

Ramakant Khandelwal, CMO, Payback India

Some of the key trends observed across industries in 2019 were:

Rise of omni-channel marketing - Creation of integrated and seamless customer experiences across both online and in-store spaces has become a key strategy to engage and build long-term relationships with consumers.

Digital played a major role with growth in adoption in Tier III and IV cities and has formed a critical part of the media mix. The ability to find the right balance between brand building and performance marketing is what set brands part in 2019.

Mobile first approach became the need of the hour. Legacy brands felt the need to evolve their online strategy to a mobile first approach as India’s media consumption habits shifted significantly whereas online brands experimented with mobile only product launches to drive adoption in new markets.

Content took the front seat with marketers focusing on story-telling as a medium to drive brand building and engaging relationships with consumers.

Media form factors underwent a shift. Videos (both long- and short-form), vertical videos, AR/VR and voice searches saw both publishers and brands driving increasing focus to engage consumers and create more conversations around the brand.

Taking a look at the trends to watch out for 2020, we see that as consumers’ habits and consumption undergoes increasing shifts, so do the goal posts for marketing. In order to keep pace with technological advancements and drive enhanced business growth, we will see focus on the following areas:

- Adoption of data driven marketing with hyper-personalization will be a key to change consumers’ affinity to brands.

- Content will continue to remain a main-stay with increasing focus on two-way communication and interactivity. Nearly all consumers are looking for visual, interactive and engaging content and brands which crack the formula will see an uplift in their brand-building efforts.

- Automation or AI: AI technology and automation will help take the effort out of marketing so brands can concentrate on strategy and crafting more engaging customer experiences.

- Media channels and form factors will further evolve. Video feeds will move towards live video, voice searches will gather more momentum, more brands will see the need to engage on platforms like TikTok as audiences shift their consumption patterns. Media streaming platforms will see more players, as well as consumers, joining the platform thus paving the way for brands to engage through content integrations. Influencer marketing will see a shift and brands will need to be more mindful of their associations in terms of quality over quantity.

  • Data privacy and security will become a key focus area and brands with more transparent processes on the same will win over consumer trust and this will be vital to building long term relationships.

Sanjana Desai, Executive Director, Mother’s Recipe - Desai Foods Pvt Ltd

The five big trends for the year ahead will be as follows:

Customer Experience: 2020 is going to be the year of the customer. It is no longer about persuading people to buy from or working with your company. Rather, the focus has been on providing great experience for customers that will keep consumers coming back.

Personalization: Improved data gathering and technological advances have already had a major impact on customer experiences and what consumers expect. Today, customers are flooded with messages from various channels from marketers to the point where they have started to change them. Traditional advertising is losing its effectiveness, so personalized marketing messages is establishing a real link between the brand and the target market.

Focus on Customer Retention: Mother’s Recipe has been carrying out a re-targeting campaign in order to tap the existing customer base. A huge part of providing a great customer experience is ensuring that it is focused on keeping the existing customers, instead of attracting new ones. Recurring customers are more valuable than new ones. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep a new one. So it's worth trying to keep your customers happy.

Live Video: It is expected that the live video industry will cost more than $70 billion by 2021. Live video is extremely popular with consumers and people spend three times longer watching live video than they do watching pre-recorded ones. Video also provides consumers with the most popular way to learn about new products. Live videos help brands build a personal engagement experience. Live streaming is an effective way for building authenticity among a group of consumers. Through live streaming people see the product as what it is, without any editing and not like an advertisement. This gives a raw and humanized look at a brand and also give the chance to the viewer to engage with the product on the spot.

AI/Automation: Over the past couple of years, we have seen huge advances in AI and a massive increase in the number of businesses using AI-powered software and automation to support their marketing efforts. AI technology and automation help to remove some of the grunt work from marketing so that brands can focus on strategy and build a fantastic customer experience.

Gaurav Mehta, CMO, CarDekho

More ROI consciousness kicked in the industry due to the macro-economic headwinds. That made the importance of digital grow and also led to traditional media being pitched and bought in a different manner.

Content creation has become savvier and much more democratized from previous years. Newer mediums like TikTok are expanding content creation to the smaller towns and villages. 2019 has been the year where we might have seen the pivotal shift from content consumption to content creation.

Large media properties have shown that they will continue to become bigger in terms of attracting media monies and consumer traction.

Regarding the trends to watch out for in 2020, OTT play is set to become much larger. This medium will start to command a segment that will be less reachable through traditional mediums necessitating marketers to look more seriously at OTT in the media mix. Digitization of offline processes will be faster this year. Bots, personalization techniques, and audience marketing will also become more mainstream.

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