Today, standing out is the key brand challenge. Louise talks about changing consumer trends and their impact on marketing.

Author: Louise Bone

Each year brings new challenges to marketers. I recently attended a thought-provoking client event about the future of marketing. It got me thinking about how marketing has changed over the years and what the next big thing might be. As we head into 2020, how are brands going to hold our attention? What comms channels will flourish and which ones will we start ditching? Here are three trends that I believe will continue to become more prevalent over the next year.

Contextual experiences

A Google-led study revealed that one particular shopper who wanted to buy a pair of jeans spent 73 days searching for the right pair and interacted with more than 250 digital touchpoints before deciding to make a purchase. This is something I can completely relate to as a consumer. I search and scroll through pages and pages, reading numerous reviews about different products, before clicking the ‘proceed to payment’ button. Items can sit in my virtual basket for days or even weeks until I’ve made up my mind.

I’m already a fan of companies like Ikea who are shaking things up and using technologies like augmented reality (AR) that help you put products into context – enabling you, for example, to see what a piece of furniture would look like in your own home before you buy it. Useful tools like this generally help me to make a purchase and I believe more brands will switch on to how they can use these technologies to contextualise products or services.

A picture is still worth a thousand words

It’s no surprise that marketing is moving towards more visual ‘experiences’ like the Ikea scenario (and with the growth of channels like Instagram). At AD, we’ve put huge emphasis in recent years on the importance of visual content, encouraging our B2B clients, where appropriate, to create infographics, videos and animations to bring their stories to life.

Why? Because 65% of us are visual learners and our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. You now have more opportunities to use visual cues than ever before across both online and offline channels. From images to video to AR, there are now multiple touchpoints for brands to interact with us through visual content.

And the best thing about visual is that it’s a universal language.

One-to-one communication

But while the desire for visual content is growing, relevance is key. The reality is that, as consumers, we’re ever more unpredictable, so brands have to act with as much relevance and timeliness as possible.

This is where personalisation comes in. It’s another trend that we, as marketers, have been banging on about for years, but we’re still yet to see it truly take off. As technologies are becoming smarter and we’re savvier about the data we give away to brands, we expect more personalised experiences. I’m not talking about mass customisation, but about tailored, one-to-one communication. We want brands to get to know us as individuals, not as a ‘target audience’.

Constantly splitting our time across an even bigger pool of channels, we only give brands a few seconds of our attention. So, as Mark Ritson from Marketing Week recently wrote, “Standing out is the key brand challenge”. The more individual experiences and touchpoints we can provide, the more brands will see a real difference in engagement, increase their campaign effectiveness and ultimately improve their bottom line.

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