A month into this New Year, and we can see some great and dynamic trends hacks and ideas for and innovations emerging for Marketing and Branding in 2018.
Yes, 2018 will see quite a few new trends emerging, although some of them will really be reiterations of some trends we have seem emerge across the last couple of years. Here are some trends you need to follow and keep track of, to stay on top of your brand’s digital marketing game and international game.
1. Phygital marketing
PHYGITAL MARKETING: WHERE THE PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL WORLDS CONVERGE
This is my huge one for 2018. Digital will no longer stand alone as a separate discipline. It really just cannot anymore.
The digital landscape has transformed the way people communicate, share information and receive their advertising. Digital marketing can be integrated into all traditional methods of advertising and PR, making it an engagement marketing essential.
When the physical world taps into the digital world, the “phygital mashups” that are created can really hit your audience in a deeply engaging way. When people interact with a brand in a personal way by participating and engaging, they are far more likely to become brand advocates and word of mouth marketers.
Phygital Marketing engages us by tying into things we do, see and interact with in our everyday life
In order for ‘digital’ to work, it will need to be seamlessly integrated into real-life experiences – and this will really be this whole ‘experiential’ trend that everyone is talking about. In particular, at sporting events, at concerts, we are seeing the online and mobile experience leading into the actual physical – and, as well, blending the two, often with AR and VR playing a key role. This will become big.
2. Augmented reality goes mainstream
Before smartphones existed 10 years ago, most people would consider spending five hours daily staring at your phone as crazy. In 2018, the bent-neck trend will start to reverse itself.
AR will customize in-store experiences with mannequins that match your body type and display enough virtual inventory to rival any online site. Merchants will create AR experiences with their packaging so that demonstration videos can appear when you look at the product on the shelf or celebrity spokespeople can magically stand in the aisle to pitch the product. Virtual pop-up stores can be built to appear anywhere that crowds are gathered (in a stadium, a busy street corner, or even inside a subway). The number of use cases for AR is potentially staggering. Users could place virtual furniture in their homes before they buy to see how well it fits within the actual space (which IKEA have already done). Augmented glasses could highlight only gluten free items to the user when walking around a supermarket, saving people time picking out suitable products. And, more generally, overlaying more information about products as customers walk round physical stores or look at the product in public spaces could prove to be a powerful conversion tool. How much of an impact AR will have to the average brand going forward remains to be seen but, at the end of 2018, we should have a much better idea. AR (Augmented Reality) will be a lead in Social Media -Brands on social media will need to take a serious look at using AR. With our smartphones becoming more powerful, social platforms will start to integrate AR technology, and this will enable brands to use AR and social in interesting new ways.
3. Prominence on quality over quantity
As digital marketing has developed and content marketing has emerged as a leading element of it, the world has unfortunately become awash with second-rate content. Today, any digitally savvy brand is aware that it should be putting out content for its audiences to engage with, but far too many forget that this content should offer legitimate value to those viewing it. Anyone can consistently put out 500-word articles repeating everything their competitors are saying, just to be part of the conversation. Ask any marketer if they plan on producing more content in the coming year and the answer is likely to be a resounding yes.
2018 should see a shift in the mind-set of content marketers. Yes, brands should be creating content that engages and inspires their audiences, but the mentality of ‘more is always more’ needs to change. Instead, organizations should focus on putting out quality, relevant content, even if this comes at the expense of volume. It might be an idealistic cry from commentators in an attempt to slow down the huge tide of unnecessary content but, as poor content will undoubtedly perform badly, 2018 should be the year that brands realize the power of ‘less is more’.
4. Video marketing has arrived and here to dominate.
Video is the most popular and influential form of digital content for digital marketers today, and it holds the power to persuade better than any other content medium. With attention becoming an expensive commodity, what with multi-tasking, brands will need to re-focus energies on video content – to get better search ranking, better engagement and better content recall The demand for video marketing content shows absolutely no signs of slowing and in 2018 video will continue its dominance as the marketers’ favorite medium. 52% of marketing professionals surveyed by Hubspot consider video to be the medium with the best ROI, while 43% of consumers said that they wanted to see more video content from marketers.
This year, Facebook rolled out 6-second ads, which encouraged brands to tell stories within extremely limited time constraints as a way of getting a message across to the user more quickly. The rise of video consumption on mobile means that, while scrolling through a feed, users’ attention spans are minimal. YouTube has been promoting its own 6-second stories to show what can be achieved in that time, and expect to see brands experimenting with playful storytelling in 2018. Video is as ubiquitous as it is effective – 2018 should see brands working hard to stand out among the noise.
– And, make that Live Video. Every social platform now offers some form of live video – and most are trying to out-gun each other will various new features and ways of using live video. To really best utilize the power of live video, it will need to be high quality, delivering content that has value for the consumer, and be structured and organized – while still, of course with the reality of it being live. That’s going to ba a challenge, but with advances in technology, and better pre-planning, I’m convinced good content creators will win this game.
More video? Mobile Video…
Mobile video ad spend will grow 49% to roughly $18 billion in 2018, reports Recode, while non-mobile video ad spend is expected to fall 1.5% to $15 billion. You can expect to see a decline of video consumption on laptops and computers for the first time — while video views on phones and tablets is expected to grow by 25%. The average viewer is expected to watch 36 minutes of online video per day on a mobile device, as opposed to half as much — roughly 19 minutes — on a computer.
5. 2018 is the year of the bots
2018 is the year of the bots
We all have gotten use to speaking with bots whenever we call to make airline reservations or to confirm our bank account balances. The use of natural language bots will expand from use as automated customer service agents to become routine for daily living.
Home bots will do more than just respond to requests, to being able to provide timely information such as, “It’s time to take your medicine.” Imagine a bot whispering in your ear “don’t make that purchase or you will be over your credit limit” or “your parking meter expires in two minutes.” Bots will help with the children, act as financial investment advisors, and be an omnipresent value-add from the brands you trust.
Watch out for more adoption of brand-customer or brand-audience conversations (see voice marketing, later) using platforms like Google Home, Amazon Alexam Microsoft Cortana and more. I’m beting that this aspect will become part and parcel of our lives – and speaking to a connected device in our moment of need (Google calls these micromoments) will be commonplace. As technology better grasps natural language processing, this will make it second nature for us.
6. Micro Influencers
Think of micro-influencers as digital influencers with a total audience size of between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Surprised with the audience size? There’s data to support it: Micro influencers are 4x more likely to get a comment on a post than are macro-influencers (who usually have ~10 million followers). Micro-influencers are more likely to post about specific niche topics and they have the loyal followings that share their passion and a staggering 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 33% trust ads. With more than 32% of internet users enabling ad blocker in 2017, it’s increasingly harder to reach users and micro influencers can bridge that gap moving into 2018.
7. Voice as marketing tool
With voice search increasingly taking over the way we search, with our mobile phones now almost surgically attached to us, voice as a marketing tool should really come into its own this year. We are increasingly going to ask our phones, our cars, our smart fridges to do things for us, and brands have a huge opportunity to stand by, and become a handy resolution provider at that time of query or need. This will be a whole new kind of content marketing.
8. Augmented Reality Gaming (MORE A.R)
Imagine shooting zombies while walking in your own bedroom! Thus, the biggest use of AR gaming to-date is definitely Pokémon Go, allowing users to catch virtual Pokémon creatures that are hidden throughout a map of the real environment.
- Through mobile devices like smartphones (tablets also), AR acts like a magic window
PC and connected TV players
- Augmented Reality also works through a webcam and broadcast through the screen
Head mounted displays, glasses and lenses
- AR becomes a part of your entire field of view, preparing for more life-like AR experiences – almost feels like Ironman with the help of the intelligent system Jarvis
- What to Expect from Augmented Reality?
- The market is ready to strike hard towards AR. The technology is on a rapid and quick rise thanks to the success of Pokémon GO and some other popular apps as well. The public is hungry for more and more Augmented Reality experiences. Our AR future is at hand, and we are now more than ready. From gaming to research to business, we may be entering a golden period for this technology
9. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Combined with big data and machine learning, AI is expected to make a huge impact on how we market to our consumers. Users can expect highly-customized content delivery, automated based on their persona and lifestyle. Starting an AI strategy can be costly and require specific skill that are often hard to come by as the role is in such high demand. However, the large upfront investment shows promising results for those willing to take the plunge. For example recent data captured from the Salesforce State of the Marketing Report where high-performing marketing teams are more than 2x as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers. 57% of marketers using AI already say it’s absolutely or very essential in helping increase touch points with customers.
10. Organic Food
With nearly 22 million hectares of land used for organic farming, Australia is the world’s leading nation when it comes to the greatest amount, as well as greatest expansion, of land dedicated to organic production. It has more land than Europe, Africa, and North America collectively. The great majority of it is used for breeding grass-fed beef, but Australian organic sector is also producing wine grapes, grains, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts.
The idea of producing healthy, chemical-free food quickly grew into the grow-your-own-food movement, so garden owners started adding edibles to their gardens. Besides veggies, fruits, and herbs, they also keep chickens and bees for eggs and honey. Some are growing hops and grapes to make their own beer and wine, while others have taken things one step further by harvesting rainwater for irrigation purposes. Certain plants are also grown for their medicinal properties.
11. It’s all Natural Beauty
Target has been leading the charge on natural beauty since 2008. Since then they’ve offered natural and “better for you” brands, including Burt’s Bees, Yes To, Pacifica, Seaweed Bath, S.W. Basics, W3LL People and Fig & Yarrow. “This year, we’re rolling out a new beauty store experience and are dedicating prominent space near the centre of the beauty department to natural beauty offerings,” said Courtney Foster, a Target spokesperson. In addition, they’ve launched a natural beauty page to make finding naturals products easier. “Given how important it is for our guests to what is in—or not in—their products, Target recently implemented a new chemical strategy that is one of the most comprehensive chemical policies in US retail. This policy promotes ingredient transparency and bans certain chemicals in beauty, baby, personal care and household cleaning product categories by 2020,” Foster said.
Another example is Unilever. It has emerged as one of the most progressive players in the natural beauty space. Earlier IN 2017, the company promised improved transparency in its ingredient lists, specifically lifting the veil from “fragrance,” one of the most mysterious items on a product’s ingredient list. At present, manufacturers selling products in the United States aren’t required to disclose the ingredients that go into the fragrance under the guise of “trade secrets,” but many natural beauty companies do anyway, and by the end of this year, so will Unilever.
Natural deodorant is another hot topic, which is projected to grow more than 15 percent every year until 2022. Procter & Gamble got a head start and acquired buzzy brand Native, which is aluminum- and paraben-free. Like Unilever, the corporation vowed to disclose the ingredients in “fragrance” by the end of 2019.
12. Work/Life Balance
Webb’s research points out 90% of college grads felt “lost in translation” when they started that first job because boundaries to get tasks done are traditionally much more defined in the real world. Small businesses will continue to move away from the conventional 9 to 5 regiment that comes with a cubicle to a more negotiable looser set of standards that mimic college life.
“College is a 24 hour intersection of work and social interaction and work/life balance is going to be a huge trend in 2018,” Webb says. “College grads are used to working in a specific way and where they want. Give them the ability to get the work done and they will.”
A New Level Of Comfort In The Workplace
Office fit outs are about creating a home away from home feeling. This is done by providing cosy, welcoming lounges, communal canteens, and comfy break-out areas.
This helps make the working environment better which helps to make employees feel more comfortable and valued. Furniture that is used in most residential settings is now being used in office spaces that ultimately create a warm, eclectic, never-want-to-leave-the-office feeling.
Also, Wellness programmes encourage physical and mental health. Work gyms, showers and breakout areas that provide complimentary healthy refreshments are some of the few offerings that can create greater employee satisfaction.
The office space is heading towards exciting things next year as companies get innovative in their way of thinking
That’s just the top trends for 2018and some of these predictions will probably fail to come to fruition as technology and the expectations of consumers change. Nevertheless, many of the trends outlined here are likely to come to pass.
Based on current trends, marketing is likely to become more analytical, and more focused on digital marketing through organic search, voice and social media.
Do share this, and comment below. Thanks. Have a wonderful and meaningful 2018.
Physical merged with digital, that’s where the term phygital comes from. It’s a marketing and retail description, but you’ll find a world of phygital art out there too. Omni-channel marketers should be excited about the phygital dimension. It’s a hybrid playground, and as Amrita Chowdhury, President of DY Works point out; “People move seamlessly between the physical and the digital world. Shouldn’t your consumer experience too?”
The brand retail space has changed. Once customers searched for a product, now the product has to try hard to seduce the customer; and we don’t just want to play and pay online. There’s a new phygital consumer who demands both a digital and physical brand experience. Retail Futurist, Howard Saunders, whose talk The Future is Scary inspired this article, explains the shift: “Ultimately, we are an innately social species that craves community, human contact and engaging spaces.”
E-commerce brands are introducing bricks and mortar stores. Most famously; the Amazon Book store. The first one in NYC is a cool 4,000 square feet with 3000 books on the shelves. Among its phygital marketing strengths are arranging the books according to data, Good Reads recommendations and Prime Member discounts. Plus, while you’re there you’ll get sidetracked by the Amazon electronics on sale.
Digitalist KRS Jamwal, summarises where we’re going with phygital: “The second wave of digital will be ‘phygital’—a combination of physical and digital, commonly called ‘omnichannel.’” Online brands are flexing their muscles in the real world. There are growing examples of this. Forbes.com, calls Warby Parker the “Poster Child for the Store of the Future” and it’s one of the most interesting retailers to embrace the “clicks and bricks” trend. Plus the Google Pop-Up stores, which opened their domes on 19 October. Now you can Daydream in their virtual reality station, for real.
But predicting our South African phygital future has a lot to do with the retail environment. Do we want more bricks and mortar shops locally? According to the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), yes we do. Despite the economic downturn, “South African retail property has outperformed the global retail property total return index for all but two of the last 16 years.”
South Africa is among the top performing global markets in the retail sector. In the last 10 years (measured up to December 2016) South Africa and Hong Kong were the only two countries in the world that delivered double digit total returns on retail property, followed by Canada at 9.8% and Singapore at 9.2%.
So it seems that in terms of retail, South Africa has the space for brands to transition into the phygital playground, it’s a matter of striking soon and getting help from experienced omni-channel marketers. In the words of Paul Greenberg, founder of the NORA network; “Online is a great place to start a business. Perhaps the only place… But it’s not a great place to get stuck.”
Jainita Khatri, Managing Director, Prana Business Consulting
About Prana Business Consulting
Prana Business Consulting is a full outsource marketing agency. Prana drives high performance and tangible results in marketing, branding, CRM and digital solutions. Prana partners with the best niche partners in the industry to drive end to end solutions. Prana specializes in solutions for baby, beauty and health care brands. Prana is a level 3, BBBEE certified company.
Something that can be counted on is that social media is not going anywhere and it is a reliable place to reach customers. A constant gardner approach – The so-called profile of intelligence – Gardner (1991), should be adopted with social media, remaining attentive to what people are sharing about your brand and being cognisant of whether your communications line up with your brand identity.
The social media landscape is forever morphing as new apps are introduced, some are made obsolete, old apps are used in new ways, new features are included and certain formats grow in popularity. There is no endpoint to a grasp on the subject and it is important to be aware of the ebb and flow trends in the social media arena.
With 500 million tweets, 4,5 billion Facebook likes and 95 million photos and videos uploaded on Instagram DAILY and not to mention the wealth of information possible in these vast engagements, social media for business is no longer optional. To give you a quick synopsis of the current lay of the land these are some ways in which social media can give your brand a competitive edge in 2017.
- Messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Line, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger are now bigger than social networks. Over-the-top (OTT)* messaging and SMS messaging are millennials’ preferred form of communication. Users login to chat with friends and to engage with brands – watch content, browse and connect. On Facebook, it is now possible to click on an advertisement and go through to a chat window and have instant interaction with a particular brand. Some of the reasons why message apps are so popular that there will be an estimated 2 billion users by 2018 are that: a cellular connection is not requisite; colours, themes and stickers make these apps highly personalized and fun; anonymity is possible through a user name; extra features like knowing your message has been read with the trusty but sometimes troublesome double blue tick all make these apps more suited to the connected and in-the-moment millennial.
*A definition of OTT messaging per technopedia “An over-the-top (OTT) application is any app or service that provides a product over the Internet and bypasses traditional distribution. Services that come over the top are most typically related to media and communication and are generally, if not always, lower in cost than the traditional method of delivery.”
- Real time content in the form of live video has been made popular by Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live. Perhaps it is a longing for authenticity on a format that can lend itself to inaccurate one-dimensional portrayals that is the reason, per Forbes, why social videos have greater engagement that any other content format.
- Chatbots are being utilized to handle online customer engagement fulfilling the need for instant and around the clock availability.
- With the growing volume of information in feeds it is necessary to cut through the clutter to ensure your posts noticed are noticed, these paid for boosts are affordable and provide excellent feedback.
- Staff training for social media is a must as it will help your staff understand the appropriate etiquette, know how to harness opportunities and certainly reduce the risk of a social media faux pas.
- Social listening is incredibly handy and by being the fly on the wall, can really give you the inside track to what your customer’s think about your brand, what motivates their decisions, what specific challenges they face, where they shop and so on. These insights have the potential for improvements in product development and communications and certainly provide one with an invitation to turn any negative experience into a public relations turnaround.
Social media, unlike other formats, is something that people invite into their lives, they welcome it and seek it out – there is an affiliation that exists and if used well by businesses, it holds the possibility of developing trust and loyalty with customers, building a following advocates and creating credibility for your organisation. The barriers to entry are low and your business can use social media in real time and with very low outlay to engage directly with customers and build brands. There is no down side – with the right amount of attentiveness, genuine response and strategic messaging you should start to see rewards for your efforts as you bring your brand to life on social media platforms.