Social, political, and economic transformations have seen consumers emerge with different perspectives, needs and priorities. Authentic communication has never been more important – brands must meet consumers wherever they are, providing value at moments that matter.
In October, Reuters Events: Strategic Marketing 2022 brought together leaders from the world’s most influential brands to define the future of marketing. Brands including Nationwide, PepsiCo, Bose, MLB, Samsung, Walgreens, the NFL and more gathered to address the latest challenges faced by marketers.
Four key themes emerged from those conversations:
Putting purpose and trust at the heart of community
Connecting with consumers through a shared sense of purpose is more important than ever. Speaking on the relationship between brand identity and purpose, Linda Boff, CMO of GE, said, ‘If you don’t start with your DNA – what you stand for, you’re going to miss by a mile.’
According to Nielsen’s 2022 Global Annual Marketing Report, “55% of consumers aren’t convinced that brands are fostering true progress.” The idea of purpose has become muddled, which is why consumers are demanding for strong commitments to brand values. Brands that are integrating purpose well are looking at it more holistically, and in a way that is more equitable, inclusive, and tied to issues their stakeholders care about.
Connecting with customers in their communities is the fastest way to growth. As McKinsey has found, the fastest-growing brands, “participate in digital communities to earn engagement and loyalty – and do so with high returns and low risk”. Building community around your brand values and engaging with them authentically, can transform consumers into fans and generate lasting loyalty.
Data-driven intelligence and holistic human connection
“Fundamentally data and insight are at the heart of marketing…The power of data is to understand much more precisely the audience that we’re talking to…the ability to more precisely understand the audiences that we’re trying to reach, more individually understand them, and then connect with them. Bring messaging, bring innovation, bring ideas that are more uniquely relevant to those people.” – Nick Graham, Global Head of Insights & Analytics, Mondelēz International
At the heart of conversations around data, and a world soon to be free of third-party cookies, is the demand for balancing personalization with privacy. A recent YouGov survey found that 41% of consumers globally do not trust online service providers to keep personal data secure. Marketers are challenged with navigating a cookie-less future, while personalizing omnichannel customer journeys to provide seamless digital and in-store experiences.
According to Deloitte’s 2022 Global Marketing Trends, high growth brands are leading this charge, with 61% moving to a first-party data strategy, while just 41% of low-growth brands are doing so. While some companies are developing their first-party data capabilities, marketing leaders are also recognizing the value of zero-party data, of which is solicited directly and willingly from customers. Whatever model for collecting and using customer data emerges, a multipronged approach will be essential. Right now, the immediate challenge is to design experiences that inspire trust, while remaining privacy compliant. Marketers are tasked with providing greater transparency, generating visibility on value exchange, and seamlessly embedding data collection into the user experience.
Compelling content, creativity and channel management
When it comes to content, brands need to cut through the noise. Richard Oppy, Vice President of Premium Co, AB InBev summarizes this well, “The opportunity for us… rather than going asking for more marketing dollars, is to make our marketing dollars work harder. I think when you are forced into more scarcity, it forces you to be more creative and the opportunity for us is to come up with creative solutions that really cut through that really have an impact with consumers.”
Building a 360-view of the customer to deliver personalized and relevant content has never been more important. This necessitates tapping into culture, as well as connecting with consumers in the ways that add value to them on the channels they prefer. Marketers must examine the channels customers are using, the audiences they are resonating with, listen carefully, read reviews, delve into data, and optimize accordingly. Brian Rowley, VP of Marketing at Panasonic Connect, describes the importance of generational segmentation, “Generationally we continue to see changes that take place…Gen Z…sixty-five percent in terms of the work that they are doing is really going back to look at how authentic the brand and the way in which they speak into the markets and investigating who we are going to partner with or who they want to have relationships with.”
Brands need represent the voice of the consumer, understand the profiles of their customers, and serve them the right content to drive meaningful engagement. Leveraging content such as gamification, Web3 opportunities, and the metaverse, can revitalize the way you connect with your customers.
Delivering on sustainability and DEI
Deloitte’s 2022 Global Marketing Trends shows that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are central to business growth. High-growth brands, defined in the report as those with annual revenue growth of 10% or more, are more frequently establishing key performance metrics for DEI objectives than companies with lower growth.
Diversity also needs to be embedded across the organization for it to be purposeful internally and externally. From embracing diversity of thought to authentic engagement with social responsibility, how you show up in society is fundamental to your brand’s image. Marketers must learn to take a stand, use your voice in an authentic way that reflects your brand values, and implement it into all aspects of the business. Ramon Jones, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer of Nationwide, emphasizes, “In a world where companies are constantly trying to outspend each other, how do we kind of insert ourselves into that conversation…so that we can deliver that return on investment but still come across as authentic.”
Engaging in authentic communication, while meeting the different perspectives, needs and priorities of your stakeholders, can evolve the consumer-brand relationship and contemporize your brand.
As we near the end of 2022, it’s important to stay ahead of industry trends. If you’d like to learn more about key marketing priorities going into 2023, you can access the full report here.