For the advertising and marketing communications industry this year, there are five distinct trends that every creative and strategist need to focus on, to be prepared to deal with the tougher economic times predicted for 2016 and 2017.
- Content: The way we strategise content, present content, produce content and distribute content has changed the entire communications industry. While media downsizes, ad agencies and PR firms are establishing newsrooms and 24 hour teams to manage client content channels. It’s not just about content marketing and how that has changed marketing communications, but the way consumers consume content. Video is the big focus this year and everything needs to have an interactive, visual element, incorporating multiple social media channels.
The fact that we humans now apparently have an attention span of eight seconds – less than that of a goldfish – also leaves marketers scrambling to get and keep our attention. The way to do this is through authentic content, storytelling, giving brands a purpose and tapping into the values that consumers hold dear. What are brands doing to enrich their lives, and add value? This will be even more important as the drought and poor rand result in steep increases in food and basic necessities prices during the year. It will be a tough year. Brands need to empathise with the consumer and help ease their hardship to keep consumers loyal.
- Integration: Advertising agencies have been searching for a new business model for a good few years as the digital revolution made every consumer an opinion waiting to be aired and changed the marketing communications landscape from a communications channel influenced by marketers, to a “demand-based media system” led by the consumer (Source: David Smythe, FCB Cape Town) . The move to true integration of all services, including business services, for clients, will position advertising agencies as innovation shops to guide brands in new product development, brand strategy, and mapping their future strategy based on mega-trends. The leaner, meaner, more focussed agencies will be able to deliver business and product solutions to clients, at the faster turnaround time demanded in this digital age.
- Africa: Africa remains the continent with a middle class showing growth to rival India; the youngest population; and abundant resources. Lacuna Radar reports in its ‘African Foresight and Trends Radar 2020’, that Africa has the potential to construct more wealth in the next 35 years, than the $1.3-trillion that it has amassed in all of history: “This impetus will be driven by technological innovation that is enhancing intelligence, reducing costs and accelerating performance capability to create value 10 times faster than 100 years ago.”
Africa may double its economy every 12 years to reach $2.6-trillion by 2027; and $13-trillion by 2050, predicts Lacuna Radar, citing the following reasons: “A forecast of 5.2% growth, an estimated $13-trillion in extractable energy, a comparative advantage in solar energy, a young and fast-growing middle class, the rapid absorption of mobile connectivity and communication technologies enabling sophisticated tracking and interpretation of big data.” This is certainly the place to be!
- Youth: From the Millennials to Generation Z, the youth are influencing consumer culture and brand decisions at a rate faster than their parents and the baby boomer generations before them. The Millennials, also referred to as Generation Y, are the first truly digital generation, living in a world with the internet and instant communication devices that their parents (my generation) only read about in sci-fi novels when they were young.
They have given us a consumer-led generation that is comfortable with seeing their own identity and aspirational values tied up in a brand’s image. Social media has become their ‘social life’ and they are embedded in technology to the extent that their platforms are an extension of their personality. Because their brands are so tied up in their sense of self, authenticity is demanded from brands across the board. Be true, don’t ‘manipulate’ or they will destroy you (Source: Brian Mitchell & Evan Mitchell, Love & Wine agency, Australia).
- Purpose: Purpose-driven marketing and sustainability. It is no longer a paragraph in the annual report or a scorecard imperative, but a consumer-led, brand enabled, revolution. More and more, consumers want to know product source; product ingredients; and how the community which made or sourced the raw materials for the products, have benefited.
This will become even more important as a weak rand, coupled with our worst drought in decades, sees food prices and many other consumables rising dramatically this year. Cash strapped consumers will be influenced largely by price and value as food shortages and high prices bite. So in order to keep consumers loyal, brands need to be seen to meet their needs and those of the communities they serve. This is a time for honesty and authenticity in brand building, for brands to show their purpose in aiding consumers and their families during these tough times.