Five marketing game-changers for the next five years

16th May 2016

Today’s consumers are more and more connected, through an increasing number of devices. At the same time, their expectations are growing based on standards set by industry leaders and new market entrants that are, thanks to the ubiquitous connectivity, easier to connect with and adopt. Consequently, all industry sectors, especially retail, are seeing rapid evolutions that will shape the market in the next five years.

Bazaarvoice works with over 40% of the IR 500 and the world’s leading brands in many industry sectors, enabling us to have a unique perspective on future market evolutions and developments. I see five significant realities influencing the direction of the market in the next five years:

  1. Seamless experience: online, offline and across devices
  2. Dis-ownership and subscription economy
  3. The growth and importance of consumer-generated content 
  4. Emotional & logical engagement
  5. Co-branding and co-innovation

Seamless experience: online, offline, and across devices

The most successful brands and retailers realise how much of an influence digital is having on the shopping experience; it doesn’t just drive eCommerce, it drives people into the stores. Customers need to be reached wherever they are, and on whatever device they are using. Moreover, this influence doesn’t end at the entrance of the store; smartphones are the new personal shopping assistant for people once they’re inside.

Consumers are increasingly using multiple channels and multiple devices throughout their purchase journey. And these omnichannel shoppers are very valuable. According to a 2015 study by IDC, omnichannel consumers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. However, consumers only become conscious of the particular channel they are using when they are faced with the limitations inherent to that particular channel;ultimately, what they are seeking is a seamless experience. Beyond seamless, they are increasingly expecting their experience across channels to be frictionless.

The market forerunnerswill create sophisticated marketing strategies geared towards enabling consumers to convert on any channel and to maintain a consistent experience when switching between channels. In order to accommodate changing consumer needs, brands and retailers will need to ensure that consumers have the right information available at their fingertips, at the right place and right time.

Dis-ownership and subscription economy

Tech investors and innovators are looking towards new economic models that challenge established industry sectors. Eager to achieve the same success as the Ubers, AirBNBs, and Le Closets of the world, brands must realise that consumers are starting to place as much weight on the experience as they are on the actual product, if not more. If this means not owning the product, it isn’t an issue anymore, as long as the experience is built around their needs.

At the same time, consumers’ expectations are rising. They are now looking for convenience, customer-centricity, and personalised offers. Those retailers that successfully marketed around these three pillars find themselves in a unique position to leverage customer loyalty through subscription models that are aligned with consumers’ needs and are embedding themselves in the lives of their customers by becoming a supporting partner in their day-to-day.

Brands and retailers need to consider the impact of dis-ownership on their business and create offers that are built around the customer, rather than the historical constraints of their industry. They will need to maximise the opportunities offered by subscription models so that their customer-centric offers are embedded in the lives of consumers.

The growth and importance of CGC: Type, Reach, Volume and Insights

As confidence in traditional advertising keeps declining, consumers will more systematically turn to content created by their peers to make purchase decisions regardless of the type of service, product or vertical. According to a survey by Invesp Consulting, 90% of customers read reviews before visiting a business.  The impact of consumer-generated content shows no signs of slowing down, urging brands and retailers to differentiate themselves by offering all types of content (rational, emotional, supportive, and engaging) at all engagement points.

Unlike today’s one-size-fits-all approach, consumers will expect a more personalised experience. In the future, they will engage further with contextually relevant advertising and personalised brand messages, such as text and photos, and ignore more traditional and repetitive mass-media ads. The expectation of such personalised content, and sometimes products, is already well-present in the fashion industry. Although high-street fashion tends to be ahead in terms of innovation, this will keep spreading across all industries. As a result, brands and retailers will need to have sufficient volume of content to drive relevance by presenting only what matters to the consumers in the specific context, at the specific time

Finally, consumers are getting savvier about the value of their data, and will only share if they feel they are getting an incentive in return. Therefore, the pressure to know your audience and your consumers beyond today’s common demographics will be increased. To remain relevant, brands and retailers will need to derive deep consumer insights from social, customer interaction and preference data.

Emotional & logical engagement

We know that some consumers think logically, some emotionally, and some both, at the various stages of the consumer journey. For a long time, consumers lived within the limitations of eCommerce websites, but the innovation surrounding today’s social networks allows for new interaction models that consumers use for several hours every day. The leading brands and retailers are developing differentiating experiences to win over their markets and create more loyalty, which results in consumers decreasing tolerance of limitations. Their expectations are much higher and they have no qualms about taking their business somewhere else if they are not engaged in the correct way. This change in behaviour can be felt across industries, including more traditional sectors like financial service, meaning that everyone will be expected to reassure, help, be transparent, and inspire.

So, brands and retailers will not only need to ask themselves if they have the right content types to appeal to consumers at all stages of their journey, but also what components are still required to create and maintain a successful customer engagement.

Co-branding and co-innovation

Thanks to YouTube, blogs, and other social networks, consumers are commenting on and remixing brand messages, videos, and imagery. They tweak, re-create, and re-publish the brand message on a daily basis, challenging the traditional notion of copyright, as the voices of consumers blend in with the marketers’ messages. More and more, consumers feel ownership in their favourite brands and will come to their defence if the brands are under attack; reversely, they will voice their concerns publicly if they feel that their own values or needs are not being respected. This represents an immense opportunity for companies to better align with their customers and make them feel part of what they are creating.

A few quick examples of how seriously brands and retailers are taking customer feedback and adjusting their offering accordingly:

  • Reeboks offering fully customised shoes
  • John Lewis making changes to a pillow’s feathers as a result of negative reviews
  • Abreva’s package sizes adjusted based on customer feedback
  • Customised teddy bears from Things Remembered

Consumers are already expecting retailers and brands to adapt to their needs and react to their feedback more systematically. For success in the future, companies will need to have a constant pulse on their customer base, offering them a platform to create and interact with consumer-generated content when and where they need it.


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