November 17, 2021
In its Global Marketing Trends Report, Deloitte called out seven trends upending marketing right now. There’s no question marketing is undergoing incredible disruption. Emerging tech such as AI has opened the doors to unimaginable possibilities as well as dangers. The pandemic has also radically (and perhaps permanently) changed consumer buying behavior.
We’re taking a look at each of Deloitte’s seven trends and weighing in. Let’s get started.
1. Purpose becomes a beacon for growth
Deloitte says many businesses are redefining their value propositions and how they make an impact beyond profit through purpose. There is evidence that companies that commit to purpose are gaining a critical competitive advantage, Deloitte says.
CMO Council’s take: For many companies, purpose does pay off so long as marketers aren’t purpose-washing. Championing a purpose has to be more than lip service. Nothing turns off consumers faster than mixed messages and the feeling of being duped. (For more, check out Will Purpose Lead to Profit?)
According to Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer and president of healthcare business at Mastercard, a company should pursue a purpose for two main reasons: If marketers can do good for society, they should, and having a purpose also helps build trust with customers and employees.
“Companies need to pursue purpose because it is the right thing to do, because consumers are willing to vote with their wallets in favor of purpose-led brands, because younger generations of people want to work only in purpose-driven organizations,” writes Rajamannar in his book Quantum Marketing.
2. Marketing needs to be authentically inclusive
As the consumer population diversifies, it's imperative for companies to authentically reflect a range of backgrounds and experiences within their messaging, advertising and brand campaigns, Deloitte says. Deloitte found that 57% of consumers are more loyal to companies that commit to actionably addressing social inequities, and consumers want to support brands that represent them and their values.
CMO Council’s take: We live in a polarizing, emotionally charged age that rewards disruptive marketing. In other words, brands shouldn’t shy away from controversy. Yet being authentically inclusive also means being authentically exclusive. Marketers who want profitable customer relationships that last a lifetime will have to make hard choices. They might have to abandon and even anger swaths of potential customers. (For more, check out Disruptive Marketing Means Disaffecting Millions.)
“Some of the most successful disruptive marketing campaigns of 2021 will both embrace and exploit the polarization to an extreme,” says CEO Anthony Smith at Insightly. “Consumer product marketing campaigns that willfully take sides and alienate a portion of consumers by appealing to the values and beliefs of a specific segment will do very well."
3. Companies are building the intelligent creative engine
In Deloitte’s research, analytical expertise edged out creative skills in almost every industry, except for the consumer industry. However, this isn't a one-to-one swap of creative skills for analytical and technical skills. It’s about CMOs building greater collaboration on teams, both internally and externally, Deloitte says.
CMO Council’s take: There is no question data and analytics have upended marketing. The emergence of AI also threatens to dictate marketing’s creative aspects. This is real and important for marketing to embrace — but don’t over-rotate!
Data and analytics should help marketers craft creative messaging and assets that inspire customers. Emotions matter more than ever, and so does creative thinking. A couple of years ago, Forrester Research came out with an ROI model for marketing budgets that showed a moderate shift toward creative spend over six years produced an 18% higher overall ROI. (For more, check out What We Can Learn from Nike’s Social Media Play.)
4. Businesses need to meet customers in a cookieless world
Deloitte found that 61% of high-growth companies are shifting to first-party data, while only 40% of negative-growth companies say the same. The leaders are deploying first-party data for delivering personalized content via dynamic creative optimization and using data to serve ads to users via programmatic media.
CMO Council’s take: We all know the coming demise of the cookie due to privacy concerns and agree that marketers should focus on first-party data. If they don’t, they might end up paying for it. “Those marketers and companies that do not figure out a strategy to maintain — and even grow — their access to first-party data may have to spend 10% to 20% more on marketing and sales to generate the same returns,” wrote McKinsey & Company executives in an article, A Customer-Centric Approach to Marketing in a Privacy-First World.
However, there is a silver lining for marketers in this coming storm. Privacy can push marketers to forge a better relationship with customers through greater transparency, clearer communications and honest conversations. (For more, check out Shaping a Privacy-First Data Strategy.)
Ironically, all of this can open doors to data. According to Salesforce, 57% of consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts. Nearly two-thirds of consumers say it’s acceptable for companies to send personalized offers and discounts based on items they’ve already purchased.
5. Data experiences must also be human-first
Deloitte says consumers are increasingly wary of companies that seem to follow their every move. The firm advises CMOs to work with chief information security officers in order to cultivate customer trust through better data practices, designing experiences that create value, provide transparency, and empower customers to control their own data journeys.
CMO Council’s take: Data experiences can be creepy. Brand messaging needs to evolve from the data-driven customer experience to the human experience. It’s time to treat people as more than just buyers of products and services and to look at each customer as a whole person, not just an ATM machine. (For more, check out Customer Experience vs. Human Experience.)
6. The hybrid experience is elevating
Deloitte found that 75% of executives said they will invest more in delivering hybrid experiences — an integration of physical and digital — during the next 12 months to increase personalization, innovation, customer connection and inclusion.
CMO Council’s take: We couldn’t agree more! In fact, we believe the future is in hybrid events and have begun researching this exciting topic. Our study explores the lessons marketers have learned from pandemic-driven virtual events to inform and reimagine in-person/hybrid events.
Of course, it won’t be easy. Forrester Research cites a slew of challenges, ranging from delivering networking opportunities that are valuable to both in-person and remote attendees to addressing the added preparation time, resources and logistics of the virtual component. (For more, check out All The World’s A Stage: Act 2.)
7. Customer service is being supercharged with AI
Deloitte says a dynamic experience for customers means delivering the assistance and information they need, when, where and how they want it. Marketers can work to optimize AI within the customer experience, achieving harmony between the human side of customer service centers and machine capabilities to better serve their customers and their bottom lines.
CMO Council’s take: AI will have a profound impact on marketing, especially in predicting customer behavior and market shifts and enabling hyper-relevant personalization across channels at scale. It’s best to get ahead of this once-in-a-lifetime marketing disruption before competitors leave you in the dust. (For more, check out How Smart Is Your Marketing Machine?)
“There’s a potentially powerful upside in the application of machine learning in marketing, yet there’s been slow adoption among marketers,” says Jim Lecinski, clinical associate professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and co-author of The AI Marketing Canvas. “Half or less are applying machine learning in any meaningful way.”
Well, how did we do? Do you agree or disagree with our takes on the seven trends disrupting marketing? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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