Fourteen Trends To Help Re-Create 2014

It was management consultant Peter Drucker who advised that the best way to predict the future was to create it. As creating new things is a pretty difficult undertaking, we recommend the next best way is to focus on validated and predictive loyalty and emotional engagement metrics, which have an extremely high correlation with consumer behavior and brand profitability.

Brand Keys measures many categories and brands and consumer activities with just those kind of metrics, and after drilling down into over 100,000 of them, we have identified 14 critical trends to help marketers re-create their own futures in 2014.

1.  Expectations get bigger:   Over the past half-decade, consumer expectations have increased 20%. Brands have only kept up by 5% -- a gap that is large enough to drive virtually any competitor through. The ability to accurately measure real expectations will provide brands with significant advantages.

2.  Learn to respect your brand:   Increased expectations come with a greater sense of product and service commoditization. You may be known, but you need to be known for something meaningful and important to consumers.



3.  Follow the multi-path to purchase:   Purchase “funnels” became paths last year, and now the paths are turning out to have multiple routes, all of which will need to be followed to create emotional engagement -- and profitability.

4.  Integration is job one: Brand marketing and digital budgets will fuse as teams work jointly and cross-silo and multiplatform -- particularly when it comes to social networking.

5.  Category is critical:   Brands will stop trading away category-specificity for cross-category generalities and will have to get smarter about specific category values they can leverage and even own.

6.  More mobile:   Last year, Brand Keys predicted the exponential growth of mobile. In light of that trend, this year brands will need to adapt strategies, content, and flow of communications to match increased multi-screen behavior.

7.  Marketers will finally learn the real definition of “engagement”:   Brand marketers will stop associating “engagement” with attention (or at least slow down). The real measure of engagement is how their efforts increase how well the brand is perceived versus the Category Ideal in which they compete (and, thus better meet consumer expectations).

8.  Emotion intensifies:   Values that drive the brand decision process have become more emotionally driven, and rational aspects have become the price of entry. Successful brands will identify what emotional values really exist in their category, and which they can use as a basis for meaningful differentiation.

9. Consumer customization: With consumers craving and expecting more customized and personalized products, services and experiences, brands that respond to real consumer expectations (See Trend #1) will find consumers more readily engaging with brands that can personalize messaging and outreach.

10.Content is king: Content marketing will become a specialty unto itself, and tools like the Digital Platform GPS will help brands optimize placement and distinguish between paid, owned, and earned media -- all of which will be particularly important when it comes to dealing with contextual relevance in the digital space.

11. Predetermine your digital destination:   Brands will shift their question from “should I be here?” to “what should I do now that I am here?” Success will be linked to appropriate messaging, brand differentiation, and emotional engagement.

12.Texts become tiresome:   More visually literate consumers will move from text outreach to more image-based connections as visual content becomes more important and brands become more attentive to image-sharing initiatives and platforms.

13.More micro:   Micro videos will continue to increase in popularity and use and metrics will move away from the number of views and to real brand engagement (see Trend #7) with more :6 and :12 videos to accommodate digital platforms and shorter attention spans.

14. Big Data becomes smaller:   Data aggregations will become more integrated and streamlined, allowing brands to better separate the “wheat from the chaff,” with output becoming more compact. 

It has been said that a new year provides brands with a chance for new resolutions and new beginnings, and in that light it’s worth noting that Mr. Drucker also advised companies that if they wanted to do something new, they had to stop doing something old. These 14 trends provide brands with the opportunity to break old habits, embrace new methods of brand engagement, modify brand marketing methodologies, and resolve to create new and more profitable futures for themselves.

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