2020 brings similar challenges for brands as picking the right education path does for students

We are through the second month(almost), and a lot of us have bid goodbye to our resolutions. While we still look forward to 2020 being better than it has been and a completely new decade, I can’t help but think about the phone call I had with my niece who is 16. Seeking career guidance last week. She asked me about the courses I had not even heard of. Having graduated more than 11 years ago, I realised what I missed out on. Too many options, too much diversity, way too much for our comfort. Process have changed, courses have. But the way we select our education and career prospects haven’t. Everything is too planned for the future. We are trying to find something that will stay relevant for the next 5 years, whereas all of us are aware that the very definition of education is changing with every minute.

2020 brings similar challenges for brands as picking the right education path does for students – creating illumination from all that information. We move ahead with dizzying technological changes, extensive diversity of opinions and the ever present ambiguity of what lies ahead. We live in constant ‘fear of missing out’ and it isn’t just consumers being gripped by FOMO. Marketers are as anxious as the consumers to make sure they ‘keep up’. Whether it’s the rise of AR (Phew! This one was a bit of a wait ) or even voice as an input (Pete Becker spoke about this way back in 1998 in Friends) we feel the push to try new things and are continually up to try and redefine how marketing is done.

The conversation of what trends will strike marketing gold for us is a repeated one with friends in coffee shops or keynotes in grand ballrooms. The thing is – we keep making this list over and over, and I’ll bet as the scene cuts to 2021 we’ll be readying same damn list again. And so, here is my list of megatrends, that are here to stay, that act as real and instant guideposts to solve either a marketing problem or a business one in 2020.

1. Tik Tok: The cool kid in town that suddenly everyone wants to be friends with, and the rambunctious teenager marketers don’t know how to work with – yet. Tik Tok has a growing, high-engaged audience combined with a potent, instant appeals to the young Indian user. Claiming to be the app where anyone can be famous, it opens up huge opportunities for brands with celebrities on board. Tik Tok has proven itself as a great engagement platform and will continue to do so with potential to clock billions of views for a campaign – Now that’s a headline everyone wants on their post eval. Getting Tik Tok right as a brand is what many of want but don’t know how to get to. So how do you get started? Get your agency to come up with 5 engagement thoughts on Tik Tok as a start. Challenges are something that you can take up easily if you are an entertainment center or a publisher. Above all – Use Tik Tok wisely, stay true to the platform’s strengths and the audience on it.

2. Chat Bots: Chats bots have come a long way – from being plain auto response modules on Twitter to a Google Assistant who can make calls on your behalf, they’ve had quite the journey. Best part, brands are not limited to standard predefined responses. The power of Voice brings a huge opportunity to be present in consumer’s homes, their cars, their offices and even when they are partying. Voice based bots can now even direct your consumer to your store. With Google and Amazon exploring languages, leveraging a wider user base has been made particularly easy. Chat bots are easy to implement, with some limited actions for now and scale as you go along. Try a bot for an engagement piece for your campaign or facilitate a small utility.

Key Categories: Finance, Hospitality, Entertainment, Retail and any service based brand.

3. Augmented Reality: Yes, this is the 4546th time AR has made it to any list about the future. This time it’s not really a trend. It is mainstream. It’s time for brands to leverage AR capabilities of mobile handsets and users’ need to live their campaign story. Easy to build experiences are available and platforms like Facebook and Google investing heavily in it – brands have to simply piggyback on their investment. Let the user experience your latest jewellery collection or test drive that car. AR is here to help transform your brand into a truly immersive experience.

Key Categories: Automotive, Hospitality, Ecommerce, Retail, Apparel.

4. Voice: Some might say what internet did to the world, is what voice is doing to the internet. Voice is slated to take 50% share of all global searches, taking us to a screen-less omnipresent environment. Why is this relevant to brands in India? Simply because India will be driving this change with the next 500 M internet users coming on board faster than we think and these will be consumers who believe in talking more than typing. This helps the user to move away from complexity of using an android or iOS phone. Brands can easily start from something as basic as changing their SEO and SEM strategy, followed by voice based devices and internet of things.

Key Categories: All

5. Programmatic: Yet another 2019 trend that features again and is slated to be mainstream in 2020. A very easy shift for brands to start moving their budgets to a more sophisticated method of reaching out to the audience. In US, 86.2% of digital display ads will be through programmatic 2020. India is going to be no different. This automation is much more efficient and fast, which means higher conversions and lower customer acquisition costs. Ask your media planner now.

Key Categories: All

6. Instagram Stories: You might ask how is this a trend. Some might even say, this is hygiene for us. But its time to understand the potential of instagram stories to deliver a seamless, continuous and immersive brand message. At a frequency of 365, this is a real estate gold mine. Move aside 2-3 mins films, say hello to 10 seconder narrative on a daily basis. From shopping to trends. From testimonials to polls. Stories can do it all. Get your agency to start thinking an Instagram story content strategy now. Shouldn’t take more than 7 days to start on this.

Key Categories: All

So how does one use this list for the day to day? Think of it as tools – not trends. Tools to help tell the story of the brands you are passionate about. The right expression of an idea is as important as the idea itself. So, it’s ok if you miss out on that Sankranti post – time to get an education that matters and harness trends that make a true difference. For us all, may 2020 be inspiration aplenty!

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