Seven key brand marketing trends for 2007
When Niels Bohr said that prediction is very difficult he didn't have predictive customer loyalty metrics. More recently, the US-based brand marketing agency Brand Keys been using those metrics to monitor the direction and speed of change in consumer values, and has uncovered what company president Robert Passikoff believes will be the seven key trends in loyalty and brand marketing for 2007.
The main trends for 2007 that Passikoff said will affect loyalty marketers and brand marketers alike include:
- An ongoing emphasis on engagement Continuing to insert itself between traditional marketing activities and an increasing demand for return on investment assessments, engagement will occupy a good deal of marketers' and advertisers' attentions. As we predicted last year a joint task force from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) offered up the following definition this year: "turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context." While a passable (and all-inclusive) first-step definition, watch closely for more precise, category and brand-based definitions and metrics.
- More reliance on consumer-generated content Accompanying the search for real consumer engagement will be increased reliance by marketers like Nissan, JetBlue, Chevrolet, and MasterCard on consumer-generated content. Consumer-generated content will awaken marketers to certain values or trends, so marketers will be paying more attention than they have, but there will be warning signs ahead. The first will be a sudden and disturbing recognition that there is no standard between paid and non-paid consumption, and that there are no norms when it comes to the extent to which the content is wholly created by consumers or assisted by marketers. This will have repercussions in regard to agency-marketer relationships. The second will be a tacit acknowledgement that just because content is "consumer-generated" it provides no guarantee that strategy, creativity, or engagement will be represented, let alone attained, which will add further import in creating authentic (and predictive) engagement metrics.
- More and more branded entertainment Popular culture, with its rabid consumption of music and technology, will see market and brand leaders leverage plugging-in as a method for customizing entertainment and selling products. Watch for companies like Burger King and Anheuser Busch to return to the 1950's advertising-entertainment model where brands produced more of the entertainment options themselves in order to maintain control of environment and engagement opportunities and as a way of highlighting increased contributions of consumer-generated content.
- Media planning will become more "touch-point" focused More marketers will begin to realise that "Above-the-Line," "Below-the-Line," and "New Media" may help to define media types, but planning will be based on being able to identify: (a) which touch-point will best reinforce brand values; (b) where the brand & media touch-point equation identifies real (and relative) levels of consumer engagement with the brand, which is supposed to be the beneficiary of the marketing exercise, really profiting from the exercise (see 'A'); and (c) where the plan results in a seamless and continuous conversation between the brand and the target audiences.
- Technology and engagement to meet consumer expectations Consumer expectations in all categories will continue to grow. Brands are barely keeping up with customer expectations. Watch for smart marketers to take advantage of unfulfilled expectations via such values as "convenience" and "customization." More and more marketers like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America will rely upon web sites and high-tech capabilities to accommodate these values and differentiate themselves from the competition.
- Increasing potential of web sites, blogs, and the digital world Engagement concerns and attempts to meet or exceed customer expectations will fuse and be most observed online and digitally. Watch for increased development of blogs and websites generally and beyond propaganda, information, and use as an electronic cash register toward the creation of "communities of ones." The digital world ¬ including RSS feeds, mash-ups and virtual worlds will accelerate consumer control and how consumers access content. Companies like Expedia and Google and Wells Fargo are at the forefront of this trend that will allow more and more consumers to find new ways of applying the basic infrastructures marketers are propagating.
- Innovation and loyalty will matter even more What is clear is that the ever-expanding universe of brands will need an informed action plan - like those of Apple and Starbucks - that makes sense to people on the brand side of the equation, and accurately tracks what people on the consumer side really feel, really want, and what they really do with their loyalty and their dollars. In the face of increased lack of differentiation, only innovation and increased level of loyalty will actively guarantee a positive bottom line and increased profitability in 2007.