We spent much of the past decade writing blogs and white papers on trends that will impact the marketplace. As we look forward to 2017, we believe it’s important to take note of trends and factors that will have a significant impact on how brands engage with customers. The following outlines what we believe will be the ten most influential trends impacting the branding world, namely:
Defining your brand’s emotional equity will take greater importance
The most recent U.S. election has reminded all of us that the consumer is irrational and that big data predictive tools and conventional research methodologies cannot effectively gauge future behavior. We will start seeing the rise of neuroscience research as a more effective tool in understanding how people feel, which has proven to be the true predicator to what they will do. Research firms arguing neuroscience is not effective will join the same voices that foretold us movies in color with sound would never take hold. Rethink your research approach and budget to include a significantly larger proportion assigned to neuroscience research, and do not listen to the detractors who say this technology does not work.
Brand experiences will replace social media in driving customer loyalty
The verdict is still out on whether social media ROI is measurable as it relates to sales. Although an important and effective factor in creating brand engagement and awareness, it has not proven to effectively drive sales on its own. Brands will refocus their efforts on creating unique and compelling brand experiences well beyond conventional approaches to marketing. We will see more pop-up stores, experiential programs and the rise of augmented reality apps that drive greater storytelling and brand engagement. We will also see the continued growth of online retailers such as Amazon and eBay opening physical stores as a strong vehicle in gaining marketshare and new customers.
Healthier lifestyles will take the spotlight
The introduction of new nutritional labelling standards in response to customers’ hunger for better knowledge around product ingredients is just one indicator that healthier diets are here to stay. As baby boomers enter their retirement stage and Millennials and Generation Z start playing a decisive role in the success of brands, expect to see more organic, healthier-for-you products from both CPG companies and fast food chains. Offering healthier fares will no longer be a nice-to-have strategy and companies that continue to believe that reducing sodium, sugar and fats is just a fleeting fad will pay a dear price in both brand loyalty and marketshare. The focus on health will not be limited to food as more consumers will consider auto sharing and clean technologies for everything from cars to appliances.
The growth of digital will continue to accelerate
With more consumers doing research and purchasing products through their mobile devices than on computers and the growth of fintech companies offering more efficient alternatives to banks, we will see an accelerated trend towards new digital ecosystems that will disrupt established brands. We have noted through our Mobile Zombie study that we cannot live without our mobile devices, spending more than three hours a day glued to apps, emails, chats and social media blogs to stay connected and relevant. We will also see the blurring of conventional digital signing found in stores and fast food chains, with mobile devices, smart watches and the internet of things. This will bring a new channel for brand marketers to connect with consumers at the moment-of-purchase, the ultimate decisive split second when preference is converted into a tangible sale.
Center of the supermarket store challenge will be solved
The longest standing decline of sales in the center of the supermarket will see a shift back to growth as both retailers and manufacturers explore new products that cater to the diversity of North America’s population. These new products will also satisfy Millennials’ desire to explore new and unique foods from around the globe. In addition, manufacturers will also explore new ways to partner with supermarket chains in creating some excitement and cross merchandising opportunities in the center of the store by bringing a new meaning to “fresh” as part of commoditized categories.
Diversity will replace Millennials as the hot demographic topic
A substantial amount has been written about the purchasing power and influencing factors of Millennials. Most organizations have developed well-established strategies on how to effectively drive brand loyalty amongst this cohort group. As these strategies take hold, marketers will start refocusing their attention to what is truly the game changing demographic in the marketplace. The rise of diversity amongst North America’s communities will resist the protectionist environment being promoted by the new U.S. leader since the only potential for any brand’s growth in North America is through the rising population being fuelled by new immigrants. Brand marketers such as PepsiCo are realizing the power and opportunities that arise from catering to this diverse yet brand-loyal group of consumers. Generation Z, now under 18, will be the most ethnically diverse demographic North America has ever known, and ignoring this will be a fatal mistake.
Design Collaboration will replace Design Thinking
The importance of design has taken hold in North America lead by companies such as Apple and P&G who have harnessed the power of the creative thinking process. The term Design Thinking was first coined more than ten years ago and has been fully integrated among industry-leading companies which begs the question, what is next? We will see the collaborative nature of the design process taking a greater role within organizations in an effort to break down corporate silos and harness the innovative power of organizations. Collaboration will evolve to include working with competitors and consumers in developing disruptive and game-changing ideas.
Trade barriers will impact how brands are sold and marketed
We are seeing a significant shift in attitudes towards trade barriers at a time when the spread between the cost to manufacturing abroad and within North America is shrinking. We will see a rise of protectionist attitudes making cross-boarder trade more difficult. This will pose a significant challenge for global brands who historically have enjoyed significant growth abroad. We will start seeing the rise of regional brands who have struggled to compete against national well-established brands. Some of these will become global brands as they gain greater presence and marketshare.
Personalization will actually start happening
With the rapid integration of big data, new apps, AI technology and voice recognition software that finally delivers on the long-awaited promise to truly replace the need for a mouse and keypad, we will see the evolution of personalization. From marketing programs to the development of products through 3D printing technology, consumers will have both a curated and personalized relationship with brands and products. We will see this trend accelerate in 2017 with the decline of conventional marketing approaches and the need to gain more marketshare from a shrinking population.
Big data will become a big problem for organizations
Organizations have been collecting customer purchase information for decades and with the advances made in the internet of things and mobile devices, this information has grown exponentially. Companies will be challenged to understand how all of this information can be put to use. In addition, big data collecting will bring with it a greater responsibility for security, as demonstrated by Yahoo’s recent notice that more than a billion accounts have been compromised in the past year. Marketers and organizations will be challenged to demonstrate an ROI for the billions of dollars spent on collecting and managing all of this data.
There has never been a decade that has had so many disruptive events creating havoc on everything from renting a hotel to driving a car. In 2017, we will continue to see more disruptive events and brands that will challenge current players.
What changes does your brand expect to see in the coming year? Which of these predictions do you expect to make the biggest splash in your industry? Let us know in the comments below and subscribe to receive the latest Shikatani Lacroix insights in your inbox.