It is important to understand that no marketing trend lasts for long. Marketing is a dynamic and perpetually evolving phenomenon. The messages and activities that marketing exercises entail vary according to time, audience, technology, product category, and culture. We have, at various points, witnessed how the messages, concepts, and orientation of marketing have changed with time to cater to the demands of the changing mindset and needs of the target markets. Evolution of technology in various fields also directly influences the marketing message, its reach, and the media it uses to get through to its target audience.
Also, a shift in marketing orientation is an innate part of the evolution of marketing. From the production oriented marketing exercises of the '50s, the sales oriented marketing campaigns of the '60s, and the customer oriented marketing efforts of the '80s and '90s to the holistic marketing orientation of the 21st century, we have seen a lot of new things and creative improvements in marketing trends over all these years.
Let's focus now, on the top current trends.
Trend 1: People Based Research
The new age consumers are anything but ignorant or unclear about what they want. Even in case of rural consumers, the idea of what needs a particular product must fulfill is very clear even if such consumers are not in tune with the most recent commercial or technological upgrade in the market. The tremendous reach of information technology and mass media has given the present-day consumer more access to all sorts of information, predominant among which is commercial information communicated via advertisements and publicity campaigns that pervade every channel of communication and mass media these days. While today's consumers are more than spoilt for choice in any given category of product or service, they are a lot more demanding about getting their specific needs fulfilled than their predecessors. Today's consumer is more willing to invest time and go the extra mile to research multiple options and compare them before making a purchase decision.
It, therefore, makes sense for marketers to revive the much tried and tested formula of ethnographic research. Collecting and evaluating qualitative analytics on products is no longer as time consuming as it used to be in the '90s, thanks to the digital revolution and the recent advent of the Big Data phenomenon. Investing in processing Big Data from huge volumes of human insights on products and services collected digitally seems like a logical link to align product values closer to the most specific and customizable demands of the target market. In fact, analyzing qualitative human insights collected thus actually help businesses narrow down their target markets better, thereby, enabling them to streamline their marketing exercises and cut unnecessary marketing costs.
Trend 2: Gamification
By now, most of us have become familiar with the term 'Gamification'. This new-age concept of using game mechanics in non-game scenarios to engage users in learning and problem-solving activities has gained considerable popularity and success in corporate training and behavior modeling exercises in the last couple of years. The combination of dynamic interface and first-person user experience simulation offer more effective engagement by involving the user actively in the exercise. First-person simulation games that are designed around the concepts of designing your own product, adding features to an existing product, or using a newly launched or upgraded product to complete a mission allow the user/player to relate better with the product and gain a deeper understanding of its features and value proposition. A good example is the recent NikeFuel Mission game targeted towards Nike+ users.
Trends 3: Connected Products and Devices
Digitization has pervaded almost every consumer product these days -- right from Wi-Fi enabled toothbrushes (no exaggeration there!) to 'smart' running shoes with pressure sensors. When expanding a product's or a brand's user experience is the trend of the times, it comes as no wonder that modern manufacturers and marketers have taken the economic concept of 'complementary goods' to a whole new level of technological innovation. Adding new features and functionalities to a product by way of a connected device instead of cramming them into the product itself and making it bulky and complicated is definitely a cooler idea. With the emergence of wearable gadgets, adding connected or complementary devices to the functional coterie of a product has never been easier, all this without compromising on user-friendliness and portability! Prominent contemporary examples are Samsung Galaxy Gear and Samsung's Smart Home Service initiative.
Trends 4: Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has been doing the rounds for quite some time now and if anything, this trend is only going to get stronger this year and beyond. Thanks to the tremendous reach of social media and the enormous online presence of people from almost all sections of human society, the virtual consumer market has become a hotspot for sellers to place their products and value propositions. There are general as well as specific social media sites, and marketers can streamline their target audience based on these parameters. Updates on offers, new launches, and discounts are readily available for a number of products and services everyday on the virtual space, making it easier for consumers and marketers to connect and optimize their commercial interaction.
Trend 5: Real Time Marketing
Real-time marketing is the strategy of hooking in target audiences for a particular product through marketing activities like advertizing and product placement around the time of occurrence of a particular media event (such as a high profile game or award ceremony) or cultural happening (such as a festival, a traditional carnival, etc.). The content of such a marketing campaign usually takes the form of a 'meme' or a specifically themed graphic campaign. These campaigns reach the target audiences through social and mass media like the television, Internet, daily news publications, etc. With the growing trend of increasing consumer engagement, branding and marketing exercises are increasingly being designed to touch a personal and emotional chord with the target audience. What better way to position a product, such that people connect with it on a deeper level, than aligning and timing it with a massive cultural or media event which unites the masses on some common personal and social parameter, such as entertainment, festivities, and cultural bonding? Common examples are the special marketing campaigns that various consumer goods giants conduct around events like cricket and football World Cup, Academy Awards, etc. While this trend is not that new, it is definitely here to stay and even grow, thanks to the increasing success and investment in massive scale entertainment events such as the T-20 cricket events.
So, that was a quick overview of some of the strongest and most promising marketing trends of the recent times and for times to come. Keeping a tab on the pulse of market dynamics and their effects on the evolution of marketing strategies is an interesting exercise as it keeps us abreast of what's new in terms of how products and consumer demands change over time. We constantly have our eyes on the emerging and hottest marketing trends and we will keep posting more on this as and when we catch drift of something interesting. Till then, watch this space!