Commentary

What Identity Means For Next 10 Years Of Marketing

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 6, 2020

As we enter a more privacy-compliant future, the word “identity” has come to the forefront. And while we’re used to buzzwords, tech fads, and shiny objects at CES – identity is anything but buzzy: it’s what our entire industry’s success will hinge on in the decade ahead.

It’s widely known that brands’ identity resolution capabilities will dictate their abilities to create personalized experiences at scale in a data-led, digital-first, opt-in world.  And yet today, according to Forrester and Epsilon, only half of brands are capable of identity resolution fundamentals. At CES, we’ll see exhibitors try to solve for this in the form of products and services that help enable personalization, or deliver the data to do so.

But beyond that, we’ll see how vendors, brands, and technology companies alike are thinking about identity in a broader sense -- and looking inwards at their own identities -- to facilitate and create deeper connections and ultimate consumer loyalty in a new era of immediacy, choice, inclusion, and personalization. As marketers explore the various dimensions of identity at CES and beyond, here are a few rising trends:

AI Gets Emotional, Consumers Get Identity-Driven Personalization

According to Gartner, personal devices will know more about an individual’s emotional state than family members by 2022. We began to see emotional artificial intelligence on the CES show floor years ago, but this year, AI promises to become more behaviorally and emotionally in-tune to take personalization further than it has before, integrating computer vision and voice analysis to deliver sentiment analysis at scale.

And while some consumers are wary of sharing too much personal data, 68% of consumers think it’s worth sharing personal information in exchange for more relevant offers, recommendations, and discounts, according to an Epsilon study. On the show floor this year, we’ll see how AI is being used to drive technological innovations based on consumer’s identities and personal needs, with use cases spanning from the beauty industry (personalized skincare) to the automotive and insurance verticals (rewarding good driving behavior with lower rates).

Brand Identities Become as Important as Products & Services

Today, more than half of US consumers consider company values when making a purchase and 62 percent want companies to take a stand on current and broadly-relevant issues such as sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices (Gartner).

In an increasingly divided world, consumers seek brands that contribute meaningfully to society. Marketers that can align their values with their consumer offerings will rise to the top in 2020 and beyond. As purpose-driven identity becomes more important in the race to win customer loyalty, we’ll see brands showcase their values through tech and services for societal good, such as machine learning that reveals gender bias in scripts.

Marketing To All Identities Takes Priority

The US Census projects that United States will become “minority white” in 2045, and that already starting this year, the majority of people under 18 are multicultural. Of course, if the current administration’s original plan to include the citizenship question on the Census had gone through, we would never have had an accurate sizing of our true population and ethnic profile. As the traditional definition of “multicultural” continues to broaden beyond ethnicity to encapsulate other under-represented segments (people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, senior citizens, etc), the industry needs to shift efforts into understanding, representing, and marketing to these diverse, cultural identity-based cohorts.

Now is the time for brands to take stock of their advertising efforts to consider what margins of society they may be overlooking -- marketers that acknowledge and cater to under-represented groups will get recognition from all consumers. This year, not only will we see CES exhibitors showcasing products that service minority audiences, from inclusive robotics to voice-based healthcare for people living with dementia, for instance, but we’ll see more panels and talk-tracks around the importance of inclusion and marketing to all, outside the show floor. 

An identity-driven future

Identity-driven marketing has never been more vital as we move towards a future balancing both privacy compliancy and personalization as vital imperatives. However, it’s the broader definition and underpinnings of identity that will inform our abilities, as marketers, to know ourselves and our consumers better than ever and thereby drive deeper engagement with them.

We know that brands who build up their abilities to identify consumers in a cookieless world will be more likely to succeed -- but that’s the tip of the iceberg.  The winners will be the ones who use technology and AI to augment their identity data to create powerful, ultra-personalized experiences based on emotional and behavioral insights. They’ll look inward to fine-tune their own identities to more closely align their actions and products with those of their consumers and the world around them, and they’ll create experiences and services for all identities as we move towards a more inclusive advertising future.

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