Engaging Activists, Meaningful Loyalty And Social Troubles In 2020

I'm not sure about you, but I'm never a big one for predictions -- even if the next year is custom made for "20:20 vision" headlines.

They all too often feature repeated claims that failed to materialise strongly enough in the past so are reiterated, just in case it really is the "year of the mobile" this year.

There is also that nagging doubt that customers and marketers don't suddenly think they need to change their behaviour, just because the calendar has moved on a year. 

However, this week's series of suggestions have stood out to me because they make some points that the average marketer will see taking shape around them already and are likely to be amplified naturally next year.

To begin with, the one that I'm not entirely convinced by is a proclamation that brands will begin to work more with activists.

It is an easy assumption to make. People are becoming far more "woke" about the environment in particular, and how their shopping habits can influence big business. My hesitation here is that neither side of the argument gets much by working with one another.

I can definitely see brands working with groups on projects, such as eradicating single-use plastics and reducing their carbon footprint. Working with activists, however -- I'm not so sure.

The brand would be seen as making a desperate attempt to get a green icon onside, and the mouthpiece for a movement would look like they are selling out. 

Where the Marketing Week guys get it spot on, for me, is loyalty moving on to be more about better customer experiences than points and prizes. I am on a couple of schemes and I have no idea what an Avios point at British Airways is worth, or what it means.

It's the same for the Co-Op points I'm collecting somewhere on a card and Nectar points I no longer bother with because they just didn't seem to add up to anything, even at the end of the year when trying to save money on the big Christmas shop. 

Just think how often your favourite brands award points or badges to reward custom? It's probably never, right?

You just enjoy that cafe's coffee or its location. The clothes from a particular store are a great fit and the service at a particular garage is exemplary. Using data and a better understanding of customers will see brands move toward anticipating needs and delighting customers with great experiences rather than a few points on a plastic card you've forgotten to put in your wallet that day. That just makes so much sense.

As does social media giants being on the ropes. Not only do we have the entire RTB industry being investigated in the UK, causing concern over how all that data is collected and monetised, one feels it is only a matter of time before a body such as the ICO takes a closer look at the social giants -- particularly Facebook -- to see if they are GDPR-compliant.

If it happens, my hunch would be particularly attention would be devoted to special interest categories, such as religion and political views.

That is a hunch. What is definitely real is a dedicated regulator for the sector is being planned in the UK and the tech giants are being threatened with extra taxation by the three biggest UK parties fighting Thursday's election.

It's definitely one to watch in the year ahead. After considerable talk, 2020 is the year when the UK decides how to regulate the tech giants and how to tax them, without starting a trade war with President Trump. 

As for the rest of the predictions being made around this time of year, unless they are from experts in their field who can back up a forecast with figures and research, it is usually worthwhile applying a pinch of salt -- particularly when it emerges that what the soothsayer is predicting falls in line with what they are hoping to sell more of next year. 

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