Given how the last two years have gone, predicting how the next year will go is possibly the trickiest part. Having said that, let me still give it a shot. A lot has changed in the marketing and advertising world in the last couple of years and a lot is still changing. As we step into 2022, we will see some aspects which will continue to gather momentum while some might see a more drastic change. I have tried to sum up my take on 2022 with the top 10 trends/realities that I would be keenly looking at in the year that we are stepping into.
Time to vaccinate our communication too: With the pandemic still lurking around, there is always a temptation of revolving our communication and messages around it. However, consumers are a bit tired of seeing the pandemic as the central part of our brand’s messaging. It is time for the brands to look beyond this and focus on the core of what their brands stand for, after all, brands, just like people, would have got jabbed by now and will focus on long term brand building.
The real world is hybrid: The pandemic accelerated the shift from physical to digital channels as organisations sought new ways to engage with customers and employees during the lockdown - from telehealth visits and online shopping to remote work and distance learning. Now, as more businesses reopen, many brands are challenged with creating hybrid experiences that integrate the best of physical and digital worlds. Three-quarters of global executives surveyed said that they will invest more in creating hybrid experiences over the next 12 months, with the goals of improving personalisation (43%), customer connection (40%), and inclusive experiences (38%).
Talk, but walk the talk: Brands should authentically reflect on a range of backgrounds and experiences in their messaging to effectively connect with future customers. According to a survey, young consumers (ages 18 to 25) take greater notice of inclusive advertising when making a purchase decision as compared to the older ones between 46 years and above. If we want to connect with the younger audience, the sense of inclusivity needs to extend beyond advertising and become a brand’s philosophy that is built in the very ethos of the company.
Purpose becomes important: 94% of Gen Zs expect companies to take a stand on important societal issues, and 90% say that they are more than willing to purchase products that deem beneficial to the society. Many of the highest-growing brands are committed to achieving equitable outcomes across all areas of influence—workforce, marketplace, and society. In addition to achieving equitable outcomes, potential consumers are also judging brands on the positive social impact that a brand brings.
Data: Data will continuously transform creativity: As data becomes more critical to informing customer strategies, marketers are increasingly hiring individuals with analytical skills. A survey of 556 global CMOs found out that analytical expertise was cited more often as a key skill than creative expertise in every industry except for the consumer industry.
Cookies are best with tea/coffee: Consumer privacy concerns have recently led to stricter privacy regulations and decisions by some major tech companies to discontinue their support of third-party cookies, which track users’ activity as they browse through the internet. As they reduce their reliance on third-party cookies, many organisations are increasing their usage of first-party data to deliver relevant ads to consumers. High-growth brands are taking the lead in this shift: 61% are moving to a first-party data strategy.
Influencer marketing will continue to yield its influence: For most B2C marketers, the power of influencers is clear and it helps drive multiple objectives. In addition to the big influencers, more and more brands will start engaging with micro-influencers to engage with consumer cohorts in a much more targeted way basis language, demography, need state etc.
Audio will get louder and clearer: Data suggests that video is the leader when it comes to content marketing. However, audio is slowly creeping up into the mix. Roughly 43% of B2C marketers plan to increase their investment in podcasts in 2022 while 38.4 plan to keep it the same. Another interesting fun fact is that this particular piece of data is virtually the same for B2B marketers. This suggests that across all industries, brands recognise the power of audio content.
Time to play it big: Gaming has been on the rise over the past few years, with a significant boost in gamers' numbers and consequently, investments into the esports industry which brought in $186.3 million in September 2020 alone. However, COVID and stay-at-home orders pushed those numbers higher than anyone had predicted. Currently, there are 3.4 billion digital gamers and that number is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace. For comparison, the top two social networks, Facebook and YouTube, have 2.7 billion and 2 billion daily active users, respectively.
What’s old is new again - long-form content retakes centre stage: It’s clear that 2021 was the year of short-form media. The explosion of TikTok, the wide-scale adoption of Instagram Reels, and the introduction of YouTube Shorts had us all focusing on 15-second messages. However, there’s been a subtle change happening across social platforms. TikTok has expanded to 3 minutes in length. Reels went to 60-seconds. Facebook created lovely 7-minute films. These tiny little changes are the beginning of a pendulum swing back towards longer-form content.
Looking forward to 2022 surprising me with 10 other trends that I could not predict.
(The author is CEO India, dentsu Creative.)