By Prasenjit Roy
It’s one of the most interesting, as well as challenging, times to be working in the marketing domain. Catching attention and connecting with today’s digitally savvy consumers to drive the message home is no mean feat. Challenges are manifold– today’s consumers have several touchpoints to make shopping decisions, attention spans are dwindling, and competition is stiff. Further, segmentation is complex than ever before as the same consumer can purchase a product from high or low-price range. For instance, the same customer who prefers lowest fare flight could also purchase the latest version of Apple phone or watch.
Clearly, amidst these rapidly changing customer expectations, conventional marketing dictums no longer hold true. This new era has placed new demands upon marketers. They not only need to be creative to deliver relevant messages but need to deliver it to the relevant customer through the relevant touchpoint. This requires marketers to arm themselves with the right tools and be on the top of emerging trends.
With marketing landscape undergoing a tectonic shift, its near future looks significantly different from its current state. Let’s look at the key trends that will shape marketing in 2025:
1. AI-first approach: It’s been a while that AI and machine learning have been at the top of every marketing trend list, and rightly so. From enabling more accurate, real-time analytics and measurement; improving customer experience and support; optimizing product line pricing strategy to minimizing customer churn, AI and machine learning bring massive benefits to marketing. According to Forbes findings, 75% of enterprises using AI and machine learning in 2018 were able to enhance customer satisfaction by 10%.
AI-powered chatbots are being looked at as the next big thing in customer relationship management as they can understand complex requests and personalize responses. As per Research and Markets analysis, over 50% of customer queries may be managed today via AI-based chatbots and the global AI enabled market will reach $2.2bn by 2024. As the technology continues to mature and interesting use cases come to light, expect ‘AI-first’ strategy to be the new normal in marketing by 2025.
2. The rise of voice marketing: The increased use of voice assistants has opened new door of opportunities for marketers. As it allows for contextual interactions with users, voice-enabled technology is being viewed by marketers as a tool that can help them take personalization to a completely new level altogether. In 2017, Juniper Research estimated that voice ad spend could reach $19 billion by 2022. While currently there are no real use cases as voice is still in nascent stages, the engagement, target reach and interactivity potential offered by voice marketing brings a business value proposition too huge to be ignored by marketers. With Gartner forecasting 30% of all Internet searches will be done without a screen by 2020, marketing gurus are placing huge bets on voice being the future of marketing.
3. Virtual Reality will make a big impact: As marketers continue to look for tools to offer more engaging, interactive and personal experiences, virtual reality emerges as a clear winner. By allowing for engaging storytelling, virtual reality enables users to connect with a brand with emotional intensity unimaginable with traditional media. It places the brand closer to the customer and reinforces brand loyalty. Leading automobile makers and smartphone manufacturers are already at the forefront in using virtual reality for delivering 360-degree interactive experiences. By 2025 as the Virtual Reality market continues to boom (from $7.9 billion in 2018 to $53.6 billion in 2025 as per MarketsandMarkets research), virtual reality will become the standard part of marketing campaign.
4. Data will drive key marketing decisions: Mass, untargeted broadcasting will become passé and data will be at the heart of marketing strategy. Data is around us everywhere, which gives us key insights into customer expectations and buying patterns. As more and more devices—right from cars to home appliances continue to be connected—it will provide brands the opportunity to create smarter, customer-centric communication. By 2025, marketers will be slicing and dicing metadata for actionable insights and highly specific marketing. Brands will use complex combinations of personal data, location data and environment data to target their customers with the right message at the right time on the right device.
5. Blockchain’s potential will be explored: Blockchain is the latest buzzword around and is being touted as a technology that can bring dramatic transformation to a wide range of industries. Marketing is no different. With blockchain, marketing can address some of its biggest concerns and challenges. Resolving privacy concerns, increasing transparency in terms of identifying bots and building consumer trust are some of the key areas where blockchain’s potential is being evaluated currently. As with any nascent technology, there will be some challenges, pitfalls and learning in adoption. That said, by 2025 expect to see some innovative use cases of blockchain.
In a nutshell, ‘Everything for everyone, customized’ is the mantra that will evolve the future marketing trends. Technology will emerge as the core fabric of marketing to listen and understand customer’s demands and meet their expectations.
-The author is senior executive vice president and chief marketing officer, NTT – Netmagic. Views expressed are personal.