Market Research Consultancy, Brand Keys, has put together its annual list of predictions for up and coming marketing trends. The original report is typically US-centric, so I’ve anglicised and summarised below. For more information, visit the Brand Keys website (www.brandkeys.com).
Trends for 2010
1) Value is the new black
Excessive spending, even on sale items, will continue to be replaced by the consumer’s need to find ‘a reason-to-buy’ at all. This will make life difficult for products / services with no clear brand, across all spending brackets.
2) Brands increasingly a surrogate for “value”
What makes products / services valuable will increasingly be about what’s wrapped up in the brand and what it stands for. Take one of Delineo’s clients – The Co-operative – for example, who have seen a significant increase in market share, thanks to a clear brand that shows strong ethical and moral values, at a time when the rest of the banking and finance industry has been exposed in such a negative way.
3) Brand differentiation is brand value
The unique selling point (USP) of a brand will increase in importance, as generic features and a ‘me too’ mentality continue to plague the brand landscape. In 2010, brand differentiation will prove critical to success – leading to increased sales and profitability.
4) “Because I said so” is so over
In theory, any brand values can be established as an organisation’s identity, but in reality, they must believably exist in the mind of the consumer. A brand can’t just say it stands for something and make it so. With more brands than ever competing for the same mindshare, it’s increasingly important for a brand to have measures of authenticity that will aid in differentiation and consumer engagement. This will see an increase in the value of customer research.
5) Consumer expectations are growing
Brands are barely keeping up with consumer expectations now. Every day consumers adopt and devour the latest technologies and innovations, only to hunger for more. The smart marketers will identify and capitalise on those expectations that have yet to be met. The brands that understand where the strongest expectations exist will be the brands that survive – and prosper.
6) Old tricks don’t work/won’t work
In case your brand hasn’t got the message yet, here it is: consumers are on to brands that try to play on their emotions for profit. In the wake of the financial debacle of this past year, people are more aware then ever of the hollowness of banks that claim to be “here for you” when those same banks have rescinded their credit and had to be bailed out by the tax payer. The same is true for insincere celebrity pairings: think Katie Price and Asda’s breast cancer awareness campaign, or Britney Spears and Pepsi’s ‘Coke Lover’ campaign. Celebrity values and brand values need to be in tune with each other, like Peter Jones and Money Supermarket. That’s authenticity.
7) They won’t need to know you to love you.
As the buying space becomes ever more online-driven and global (and therefore out of the direct control of brands and organisations), front-end awareness will become less important. A brand with the right street cred can go viral in days, with awareness following rather than leading, the conversation.
It’s not just buzz.
Conversation and community is everything. ebay thrives based on consumer feedback. If consumers trust the community, they will extend trust to the brand. Not just word of mouth, but the right word of mouth within the community. This dawns the coming of a new era for customer care.
9) They’re talking to each other before talking to the brand
Social Networking and exchange of information outside of the usual ‘brand space’ will continue to increase. Look for more websites using Facebook Connect to share information with the friends from those sites. More companies will become members of Linkedin. Twitter users will spend more money on the Internet than those who don’t tweet.
10) Engagement is not a fad; It’s the way today’s consumers do business
Marketers generally accept that there are four key methods for getting your brand through to it’s intended audience: Platform (TV; online), Context (printed materials; webpage), Message (Ad or Communication), and Experience (Store/Event). However, there is only one objective for the future – Brand Engagement. Marketers will increasingly realise that attaining real brand engagement is impossible using out-dated models that fail to keep pace with consumer trends.