By Samir Kapur, Management Consultant and a Visiting faculty for marketing strategies at management colleges
The business of marketing and communication is fiercely dynamic, even more so now, amidst the accelerated pace of digital transformation unleashed by the pandemic. Having said that, brands that do not realign, reinvent and innovate strategies to keep pace with this rapidly-changing ecosystem will surely miss the wagon.
At this point in time, new trends, new technologies, and changing patterns of consumer behaviors are transforming the industry like never before and with it- ample opportunities are emerging. It’s up to brand marketers to build capabilities and capacities in order to stay ahead of the curve.
That brings us to the question, what does the future of marketing look like and what can brands do to adapt to this shifting environment.
Let’s look at the Metaverse for instance. It may present a boundless, multi-sensory interface for new products, services, and experiences because at its very core lies a convergence of technologies, social, commerce, and services that are changing the way people live and interact. With the advent of advanced digital technologies, the Metaverse is gradually becoming a digital twin of the physical world as we know it. What it translates to is that there will be emerging business opportunities and marketing strategies that brands should reflect on tapping.
Another significant trend that will make its presence felt in the business and marketing arena is “bot commerce”. Brands will conceptualize and execute strategies for marketing to machines. Bots and AI systems will replace humans in conducting several essential routine activities and decision-making functions. There will be AI-based shopping apps that will shop for people based on their criteria, choices, and shopping behaviors – be it purchasing groceries or selecting gifts. What it implies is, that businesses and brands will have to devise integrated marketing strategies that can interface with personal shopping AI tech, so as to optimize their sales and ROI.
The transition from ‘second-screen’ to ‘multi-screen’ is another channel distribution disruption that will change the face of marketing in the future. For instance, the emergence and proliferation of connected and autonomous vehicles will usher in a large number of screens that will be used for intelligence, entertainment, and advertising. Elon Musk’s Neuralink is building technologies that can directly link human brains to applications. Does this mean that brands can get real-time feedback on their product or can influence customer decision-making in real-time? Possibly!
From the global economy point of view, we all know that supply chains across the world are highly disrupted, inflation is on the rise, and wages have crunched. The post-COVID consumer appetite has also undergone a paradigm shift in terms of how consumers shop, and with which all brands. It is imperative for brands now to deliver exquisite customer experiences through value-based innovation. Customers want to engage with brands at their time, at their convenience, and in their method. They are no longer looking at just pricing and product quality when it comes to making a purchase.
They are putting equal weightage on human interactions, ease of use, personalization, data security, and the enterprise culture of the brand. In fact, as per a study by PwC, 73% of customers regard CX as being a key determinant in their purchase decisions. Also, 87% of business leaders consider CX as their organization’s top growth engine.
Considering the aforementioned trends, being future-ready is no more a matter of choice, but absolute indispensability.
While we all know that accurately predicting the future is next to impossible, however, we can create a structure that can enable future readiness in the long run, while driving pliability and resilience in the short term. It is imperative for brands to realize that every business transformation should be outside in. The transformation should be future-focussed and every change should be directed towards serving the customer (stakeholder) in the best manner possible – identifying and addressing their met, unmet and unknown needs. Such future-ready transformation is not only more resilient in the face of adversities, but also is a perfect recipe for growth over numerous time horizons.
Let us now consider some key attributes that brands and marketers can adapt, to be future-ready.
Delivering superlative stakeholder experience reigns supreme. Brands should devise strategies to deliver superior experiences for customers at every stage of engagement. Brands should also build structures, roles, and ways of working that serve customers most effectively. It is also equally imperative for businesses to build capabilities in terms of tools, resources, and skills needed to be a future-ready marketing organization. Similarly, it is also equally important to draw out processes, procedures and governance outlines that facilitate robust decision making, responsibility and accountability. Last but not the least, is Change Management – The competence and number of individuals, teams, and the organization to implement new processes, tools, and adopt behaviours to deliver the requisite change.
For start-ups and scale-ups, the answer typically hovers around building new marketing capabilities and processes that enable rapid growth and evolution. However, for larger enterprises, future readiness often implies company-spanned transformation.