TL; DR: See how micro-moments, data literacy, gaming, virtual reality, and the employee experience are changing the way marketers create content and reach out to customers. Learn what solutions will help you adapt.
See where marketing is headed
Customer behavior has shifted. Trends have accelerated.
We’re facing a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and inflation. Social unrest continues.
How can any marketer keep up? How does any brand adapt?
We can’t fix all the things in the world, but we can try to make a marketer’s job easier and give someone some peace of mind with that, at least.
But there are so many trends! So many opinions, voices, and data to look at.
The team at Oracle Marketing is here to help. Drawing on years of experience reviewing trends reports, parsing data, and working on campaigns, we looked through over a thousand pages of predictions and trends.
We selected the top ten that will impact marketing teams and leaders in the next few years.
Read through them and see what solutions can help you take advantage of these trends and opportunities.
What happens when we no longer run the gauntlet of candies, snacks, accessories, and soda waiting in the checkout line at the craft store or happen to find a great pair of new shoes at an airport shop in Portland? Businesses are still trying to figure out how to spark impulse purchasing via digital channels.
We've had recommendation engines in ecommerce for quite a while, but consumers have adapted narrow buying patterns on most online shopping sites aside from a few huge sites. During this massive move to online, marketers are struggling to redefine the in-store marketing engine that drove shoppers to try a new brand.
"New patterns in shopping behavior have cost retailers incidental spending and have created new expenses in cost to serve." Accenture
This trend includes B2B scenarios as well. B2B in-person events drove tremendous new trial purchasing via booth giveaways or prizes in the past. Every industry will have to redefine its new business marketing playbook in the next few years.
Some will find new kinds of digital "shoppable moments." Others might turn to subscription box services to spur new trials.
We should expect and prepare for businesses to push digital channels to capitalize on buying opportunities that may last only seconds. Micro-moment marketing will require you put in place and synchronize the fundamental capabilities of:
Key Statistic: Social commerce generated approximately $474.8 billion in revenue, representing an almost 40 percent surge in sales. (Source: "Why You Can't Afford to Ignore Social Commerce in 2022," Inc. Magazine, 11/25/2021)
Learn more about how to:
Consumers, employers, media, and governments have never been this deep into the world of statistics as they have during this pandemic. After this barrage of data and analysis, the results have been the same for consumers and employees alike; confusion, conflict, and calls of "foul" because of data slanted in any direction and used as proof to support a specific point of view.
Statistics are subject to manipulation, and more people realize that data isn’t always reliable proof. Consumers are likely to become more sophisticated data analysts, so data analysis used as any proof will have a higher scrutiny threshold than before.
Data analysis skills are no longer a specialty for any business; they are a core competency for the digital economy. IDC trend spotters believe employers will spend considerable resources training all employees to understand data to spot misinformation or influence decision-making through skewed data.
They will also have to be more prepared to prove their statistics to consumers. Business leaders who don’t invest in data literacy training will fail to elevate organizational data culture, and risk increased threat from competition or declining customer satisfaction.
Key Statistic: By 2026, to elevate their data culture, 60% of G2000 enterprises will have data literacy programs, including training to help employees spot misinformation and communicate or influence data. (Source: Data and Content Futurescape, IDC, 2022)
Read More: IDC Data and Content Prediction
Customer experience pundits talk 'till they're blue in the face about eliminating siloes and unifying data across all business functions but often fail to attach those imperatives to the real business value. Consistency is a broad term that can’t be broken into pieces.
It includes, for example, consistency in what you offer in each channel, how you communicate with the customer, how you use your channels to keep up to the second record, and how well you service and support everything your business sells.
It is the most challenging digital transformation imperative by a longshot. However, it is also the most important element of their "experience" for consumers.
The biggest blocker to unified customer experiences that deliver on the consistency expected is "technical debt," the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer. In the past two years, rapid digital transformation has increased technical debt, leaving businesses to unwind that debt in the years ahead.
"By 2025, IDC projects that 75% of CIOs and CFOs will be forced to accelerate or enact formal technical debt management practices due to project delays or failures caused by unresolved technical debt." (Source: CIO Futurescape Predictions 2022, IDC)
Businesses will need to look deeper into their infrastructure to remove consistency blockers and replace older, too rigid, or less capable technology embedded across all departmental functions. IT has created a much bigger technical debt problem by classifying marketing technology as "non-essential." As a result, marketing teams have brought in less capable but more easily implemented solutions that did not require support from IT.
Today's chief data officers and CIOs realize the business-critical nature of marketing technology and will have to work with marketing to develop transition plans to upgrade marketing platforms that meet the standards required by a modern, business-critical technology infrastructure.
Key Statistic: Lack of consistency is one primary reason why 74 percent of consumers believe companies fall short of delivering excellent experiences. (Source: Marketers' Top Five Plans for a Post Third-Party Cookie World, Harris Poll Survey, 10/25/21)
Read More: Effective Digital Transformation Relies on a Shared Language, HBR, 12/14/21
82% of marketers are looking to update their technology stack to improve performance. Find out what solutions they’re seeking and the marketing technology trends influencing their thinking.
Social media influencers have overtaken celebrities' ability to move consumers from one company to another. However, during the pandemic, consumers turned away from the picture-perfect social influencer, leaving those who make a living on social media to shift to highlight imperfections.
Now, these influencers have become corporate watchdogs and "genuinfluencers," who exist to spread ideas rather than products
"Take shADe, an 'anti-greenwashing' web plugin designed to help consumers make purchasing decisions that better reflect their values. Where usage of attributes like 'green,' 'sustainable,' 'ethical' are currently unregulated, shADe connects to the Good on You's brand rating database to give customers a rating on their favored product in real-time." Dentsu Creative Trends 2022
One area where businesses are leaning into the trends is to align with a "cause." Marketers quickly turn "green" initiatives or other social causes (diversity and inclusion, gender equality, etc.) into differentiators by bringing them into their awareness-building activities.
Unfortunately, too many companies have not lived up to their social cause-based marketing, and influencers have led the way to uncover the duplicity of the situation, scarring the brand image for years to come.
This trend leads to an uptick in "greenwashing," which describes a company using a social cause to sell products without following through on its promise. Sometimes brands are called out for greenwashing even though they do their best to support the social cause they promote.
Business leaders must stop thinking of social cause as a corporate differentiator and embrace it as an authentic passion. By removing the temptation of competition to accuse your brand of greenwashing, businesses will achieve real change and ultimately create customer preference without using a social cause as a marketing opportunity.
Key Statistic: 89% of consumers agree that sustainability should be a standard business practice. (Source: Wunderman Thompson, "Regeneration Rising: Sustainability Futures, "June 8, 2021)
A logical offshoot to the upswing in ecological and sustainable consumer preferences will be increased interest in repairing, recycling, and living a minimalistic lifestyle. Many consumers have been "tidying up" during the pandemic or moved to a mobile, remote work lifestyle.
Businesses have also reduced their commercial space footprint, and some corporations have shut down entirely, leaving a glut of used office furnishings, supplies, and equipment. With inflation and supply constraints projected to continue into 2022, consumers and businesses will be less likely to have the budget to buy new.
"The Biden administration has indicated it's in favor of "right to repair" policies. The Federal Trade Commission is moving toward writing new rules that would make it easier for Americans to fix their broken cellphones, computers, videogame consoles, and tractors themselves or at independent repair shops." Seattle Times
The upcoming legislation will force brands will meet new customer and business demands by improving the "repairability scores" and launching repair and recycle programs. Samsung, for example, has developed a program to create apps that transform old handsets into other valuable household items. One example is baby monitors that still use some of the capabilities of phones that still work but not as well as day-to-day communication devices anymore.
Businesses that still have siloed sales, service, and marketing teams, will find it difficult to adjust quickly enough to capitalize on the shift in consumer-buying behavior.
Business leaders should audit digital transformation occurring at the departmental level to be sure it can expand to incorporate service channel revenue generation. Some technology solutions, especially older, home-built and on-premise systems, are too expensive or inflexible to meet these new demands.
People hunger for creative content and new interactions as they spread their attention wider than ever. The Zeitgeist study by GWI sees a notable increase in people describing themselves as "daring," "creative," "adventurous," and "outspoken" (Source: GWI USA Q2 2020 & Q2 2021 | Base: 41,060 internet users aged 16+ | Question: Which of these describe/do not describe you?)
One of the best places for escape has been in gaming. In summer 2020, gaming sat just behind television in Gen Z's list of personal interests and behind movies and music. Gaming has since drastically overtaken TV and is now breathing down the neck of the other two.
After staying put and abiding by the rules, people now look for fulfillment and adventure. Brands have a unique opportunity to make the most of this impetus by designing campaigns that celebrate consumers' creative genius and utilize it. Companies will also want to appeal to this sentiment among employees as well. This trend also led to the "Great Resignation" in 2021.
Brands that break free from outdated norms and restrictive design templates will be the ones that achieve differentiation. By nurturing employees' and consumers' creative genius, brands will find new ways to spark innovation, create differentiation and build strategies worth investing in next year.
Key Statistic: By 2023, to counter digital fatigue, 60% of leading organizations will look to differentiate by delivering trusted and memorable engagements that recreate physical experiences. (IDC Future of Consumer, 2022)
Creativity is no easy task. Get help with your email marketing, copywriting, and campaigns? Find out how Oracle Marketing Consulting can set you up for success.
The term “Beta” comes from the Silicon Valley term used to describe a kind of unfinished software release. This new type of worker is beginning to take a prominent role in business purchase decisions. BETAs are 21-40 and defined by the following characteristics:
Growing up in a digital world impacts the services people consider bringing into their workplace; Twenty percent of BETAs cite existing personal usage of a product or service as a factor influencing them. BETAs stand out in their desire—whether always realized or not—to:
Success might matter to everyone, but BETAs are re-framing how they achieve success. BETAs are particularly attracted to customization in design and appearance (which other cohorts do not see as essential). BETA's enthusiasm for experimenting with different approaches is evident in their process of employment itself.
The BETA buyer is behind the consumerization of B2B sales, so understanding how to motivate and appeal to this kind of buyer will be critical. When researching a new brand or service, they are equally likely to look at analyst reports, peer reviews, and in-source from their community.
They will not react to traditional sales approaches such as in-person meetings or virtual sales calls. The chances are that B2B brands will not see them coming or know when they have caused customers to switch away from brands.
Key Statistic: "Globally, a quarter of B2B decision-makers say they will only buy from a vendor they've heard of, but this peaks at 30% among 21-30s and drops to just 13% among 51-64s."
Get to know the new B2B buyer. Check out how B2B and B2C are converging and changing marketing.
There is quite a bit of "Metaverse" hype which will not become real for a few more years. Most trendwatchers called this trend toward virtual reality, encouraging brands to develop presence and connections in new virtual environments and eSports arenas. However, IDC calls out the higher value and near-term trend that requires blending real-life humans into digital environments and vice versa.
For example, many B2B brands have gone to a 100% recorded virtual conference only to find that without inserting people in real life, in real-time, attendance plummets. People want to know that someone is there with them in the virtual environment.
On the flip side, conference-goers will also want to engage in a digital environment while attending events in person. Both in-person and virtual situations will incorporate digital and personal touches to meet customer expectations.
However, another virtual trend, the non-fungible token, is critical to business. NFT creates a digital currency, rewards data sharing, and generates future revenue streams. Brands like Burberry and the NFL are already using NFTs for eSports and gaming, but the opportunity to expand the NFT outside of virtual environments is ripe. Brands could, for example, replace points systems in loyalty programs or develop alternative pricing B2B models.
Companies should invest in thinking about the convergence of human and digital and avoid falling into the trap of thinking that customer experience is either/or. There will come a time for the entire "metaverse," but consumers are more likely to crave mixed human/digital interaction during the next few years.
NFTs make for intriguing rewards for your customer loyalty program members. See how to create an emotional bond with customers and earn their loyalty using Oracle CrowdTwist.
The customer-to-customer (C2C) economy refers to new platforms that help customers connect with other customers to communicate or trade goods/services (e.g., Uber and Etsy). There is value in facilitating these interactions, transactions, and digital commerce environments that create safe, easy ways for customers to connect.
Trendwatchers project that C2C domains will see enormous growth. The C2C economy also enables the direct-to-consumer trend in B2B, bypassing traditional intermediaries in the supply chain—such as retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and advertisers—to connect directly with the end consumer.
Brands across sectors are now finding new, direct routes to customers via online channels. Businesses are not only considering building new ways to connect directly with their customers, but consumer-oriented firms are looking for more significant B2B revenue opportunities as well.
"Swedish retailing giant H&M Group launched Treadler, a B2B service offering other businesses the opportunity to access the group's considerable global supply chain, expertise, and supplier partnerships." Dentsu Creative Trends 2022
C2C and all-to-all marketing will make the notion of B2C and B2B obsolete.
What is all-to-all marketing? It breaks audiences down by pain points and the solutions you offer rather than simply B2B and B2C. Recent years have seen B2B content emulate B2C more and more. Trends, significantly accelerated by the global pandemic, saw online shopping exceeded $900 billion in 2020.
Both B2B and B2C have gone more and more online, which requires similar tactics in sounding genuine, human, and offering real value.
Intermediaries—who have been quite influential in the past—will be pushed out of the equation. Those entities will rethink their businesses accordingly. Some may find an opportunity to pivot to a C2C or A2A platform model or introduce a new company built around a value-adding platform.
Business leaders will have to think more broadly for businesses that traditionally align themselves with B2C or B2B. Competition could come from an entirely different sector or industry. Best practices may also be outside of their existing frame of reference. It’s time to visit with colleagues outside the typical business network and broaden the notion of the industry to include all-to-all.
Key Statistic: US direct-to-consumer (D2C) eCommerce sales increased by 45.5% in 2020 and are expected to grow at over 15% per year for the next three years. (Source: eMarketer, February 2021)
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Customer demands have historically moved in one direction: upward. Firms have tried to play catch-up, no matter the impact on employees, but 2022 will correct this trend. Many companies were unprepared for the speed of digital transformation required to stay alive during the pandemic.
The result accelerated the human cost of meeting the demands optimal customer experiences require. It came to the point that many employees simply quit. Businesses are feeling the backlash against the human cost of convenience and the resulting impact on working conditions for employees and contractors.
We expect businesses to incorporate bots, robots, and intelligent technologies to simultaneously address:
Financial markets will reward capping growth in human employment and redeploying investment towards intelligent automation to fill many talent gaps at different levels and roles while also gaining productivity and quality.
We predict that one bold firm will declare precisely this strategy, shifting its future net "employment" gains to software. Others will work side-by-side with human labor, enhancing productivity and lowering compensation claims from injuries.
The fears of automation displacing workers will be history. Businesses will speed into automation with reckless abandon. Digital transformation will detour into discussions of infrastructure, data hygiene, and interoperability.
Businesses might have implemented “quick and easy” point solutions to fill in digital capability gaps. They’ll have to rip them out to replace them with solutions that deliver on the promise to support every department’s needs. This great horizontalization of business technology across departments will distinguish this decade by upending incumbents and sidelining start-up unicorns.
Key Statistic: 39% of US consumers say that companies' labor practices influence their purchase decisions. 2022 will see more companies factoring ethical responsibility to their employees into their customer journeys and offering products and services that balance conscience with convenience. Forrester's Consumer Energy Index Survey, US Consumers, May 2020
Key Statistic: One-fifth of retail and consumer goods firms will stop aiming for "better CX at all costs." Source: 12 CMO Predictions for 2022
Learn more about marketing technologies and trends to capture consumer attention and drive conversions. Check out:
See what solutions can help you create micro-moments that drive engagement and ROI. Find out about:
What technologies can help you understand customers in this changing world better? Look at how to:
Tamara leads Oracle's Product Marketing team focused on marketing solutions, including the marquee B2B Marketing Automation brand, Eloqua. Prior to Oracle, Tamara spent almost three decades building data-oriented products at start-ups in Product Management and holds 4 patents for her previous work in mobile data collection. Tamara earned her MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and her BS in Business and minor in Computer Programming at the University of Southern California. Tamara describes herself as a futurist with love of data and passion for demonstrating how to turn data into insights that impact on the business results.