As the world braces for another year of the coronavirus pandemic, the hope of revival dominates everyone’s minds. While I am cautiously optimistic, the last two years have been evidence that the only normal now is constant change. And for marketers, that’s their natural habitat!
Digital has become all-pervasive, customers are glued to social media more than ever, and experience has become an important aspiration. With the ecosystem changing rapidly, here are the marketing trends that are likely to shape 2022.
1) Reconnecting with the basics
Most marketers have lost touch with the basics of marketing, mainly because the pandemic triggered a fight or flight response. The ballooning digital space offered a great opportunity, enhancing the temptation to think about ‘here and now.’
With this context, 2022 is likely to see marketers taking a step back and evaluating how the customer has changed, identifying strategies that put customers back at the center of decision-making, and drawing a long-term course for the brand.
2) Data privacy
Data is key to creating unique and memorable experiences for customers. With brands committing to supercharging their customer service with data and new-age technologies, artificial intelligence will be key to unlocking a true end-to-end customer experience. Building analytical models to predict customer behavior for timely delivery of communication and solutions will find a higher priority for marketers.
However, as customers grow more aware of data privacy online, data protection will be an interesting dilemma faced by marketers. Google’s end to third-party cookies and Apple instituting tracking consent protocol are among the first steps taken towards improved data privacy. These measures threaten to derail marketers’ efforts to conduct targeted and optimized campaigns. So, brands will focus on crafting data protection strategies that can enable inclusive campaigns wherein customers can stay in control of their data.
3) Building a socially-conscious brand
Customers today believe in a brand that is socially conscious. We will see more brands aligning with a social purpose, with Environment, Sustainability and Corporate Governance becoming a priority actionable.
4) Social media activism
The last year was dominated by controversies online – from Tanishq to Sabyasachi, no brand was spared by social media activism. In the new year, this heightened online activism is likely to continue. Threats of such boycotts will influence creative decisions, and brands will proactively craft crisis management strategies to counteract such online responses.
5) Building talent that stays relevant
With ‘woke’ culture dominating all social conversations, brands must deliver nuanced communication. New-age customers are attuned to social inequities and becoming vocal about their views. Brands, therefore, will have to nurture and hire talent to stay relevant. Without such a talent pool, brands may end up delivering tone-deaf, and outdated content. Many employers will find that trends specific to their industry will help in determining how to adjust their talent strategies, but upskilling talent will remain a focus area in 2022 to make employees more competent in their current and future roles.
Creating a mechanism that captures the value delivered by marketing will be a priority area for marketers. A 2019 McKinsey study shows that while 83% CEOs globally believe marketing to be a major driver of growth, 45% CFOs have either declined or not fully funded a marketing proposal because it didn’t demonstrate a clear line of value. As digital brand visibility and CX become paramount, CMOs will attempt to build relevant and business-specific measurement mechanisms to seek higher marketing investments.
7) Multi-channel experience is the future
Expectations of CX have changed massively in the last two years. In the years to come, a dynamic CX will be defined by whether a brand can deliver assistance and information whenever, wherever, and however the customers want. So, brands will focus on building multi-channel capabilities to ensure higher customer access.
As we gear up for the new year and businesses pivot to match the post-pandemic expectations, Identity, Experience, and Measurement will be the end game for marketers to deliver value in 2022.
Abhishek Gupta, chief marketing officer, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance. Views expressed are personal.