As a rule, I personally tend to spend a decent chunk of my spare time in January reading through the marketing trends reports that have come out over the past few months.
Many organisations produce these reports on marketing trends, in varying sectors – however what’s always caught my attention is how long they are to read! So, with ease and accessibility in mind, I’ve condensed what I feel are the four most important trends for the year ahead.
Why AI? Has the backlash begun?
At the start of 2023, we were caught in a whirl of an ever-increasing number of AI products and tools, all of which were promising new ways of improving the customer experience.
Fast-forward to 2024, and AI appears to have found its niche amongst marketeers, with 67% of marketeers feeling ‘positive about the possibilities’ of generative AI according to Kantar. As a brainstorming tool, and for ideation, AI can vastly jump start the creative process, and provide that crucial leg-up to those with perhaps less industry experience.
Conversely – AI runs the risk of devaluing true creative work and talent, as well as stifling it. As Creative Boom reported recently, software giant Adobe has started to face backlash against its integration of generative imagery that is now available across its products – potentially replacing certain creative jobs in the process. Similarly, the Wall Street Journal has reported that brands are increasingly becoming nervous about the use of generative AI in their marketing – for the same reason: negative perceptions around job displacement.
The upshot? Use AI where necessary, but be careful not to undermine the value of true creative thought. The clue is in the name – does your brand want artificial, or genuine creativity?
According to Kanta, a large proportion of the top brands are increasing their pricing power – in their 2023 Kantar BrandZ rankings, 52% of brands achieved top tier as either Great value, Margin Opportunity, or Justified Premium, up from 42% in 2020. In a response to inflation hitting the nation’s pockets, many organisations are looking to premiumise their offering.
A move towards a more premium positioning is a marketing trend that we have noticed anecdotally with our clients at an increasing pace of the past 18 months. Whether it be by perception (e.g. a more luxurious palette, or magazine-style photography), or by product improvement (e.g. communication clarity, or delivery of content), many of the brands we work with are looking at how they can make their offering appear at a higher value point.
The take away from this? Make sure that your brand remains compelling, keep a keen eye on your competition, and never pass on an opportunity to improve your product offer.
Direct Social Selling
When sitting down to write this, I asked one of my colleagues ‘What marketing trends have you noticed recently?” – promptly, an answer came back – buying from reels.
A decade ago, social media was exactly that – purely social; a new communication channel for friends and families to interact through. Fast forward to 2024, and the growth of social commerce, and virtual storefronts within social media platforms has created a conversion-centric ecosystem. According to Statista, social commerce generated about $475 billion in revenue in 2020, and is expected to reach a whopping $3.37 trillion by 2028!
With an increasing number of consumers making purchases directly on social media platforms, brands need to adapt their social media strategies to maximise these e-commerce opportunities. Consumers are more likely to buy when it is convenient, and a streamlined purchasing process on social media provides just that.
What does this mean for your brand? You should be focusing on creating an engaging, personalised experience for your customers – and social commerce should play a part. And, even if social media isn’t the point of purchase for your customer – it is part of the journey.
The Continued Rise of the Micro Influencer
Influencer marketing has become a staple in the marketing world, and it’s only getting stronger. However, there’s now a shift towards micro-influencers (influencers with smaller followings of between 10,000 – 100,000) and user-generated content (content created by customers, rather than by the brand). Why is this?
Generally, consumers are becoming more sceptical of traditional advertising methods, and more in favour of peer recommendations. Whilst large scale influencers used to fall into this category, the sheer quantity to which we are exposed to on a daily basis when browsing has certainly knocked off the sheen and effectiveness of those big personalities.
As Forbes Council Member Kelly Ehley writes, micro influencers have ‘stronger relationships built on expertise and trust with their followers’, and serve ‘more niche audiences’ – which can be a benefit for your brand, if you engage in highly targeted marketing.
Our view? Focus on building relationships with influencers that truly align with your values, and be sure that the ‘follower count’ isn’t the deciding factor in starting that relationship. The old adage ‘quality over quantity’ certainly rings true here.