Niels Bohr, the Nobel laureate in Physics and the father of the atomic model, had said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future!” Most marketers know that and many chief marketing officers (CMOs) believe it is important to test a forecasting model out-of-sample. It is that time of the year when predictions are made for marketing in the new year in order to prioritise action plans.
Going with the spirit of what Niels had said, I will only pick up those trends that have been underway over the last couple of years and will continue this year. Keep a sharp eye on these trends to strategise your year for competitive edge.
My friend and business adviser Stan Davis first mooted the idea of mass customisation. Advertising executive Don Peppers extended the idea to one-to-one marketing. Personalised marketing has been gaining traction and, in 2024, I expect it to become more sophisticated with AI and analytics.
CMOs will leverage Generative AI, machine learning and data analytics to deliver hyper-personalised content and experiences across various touch points, catering to individual preferences and behaviour. Hyper-personalisation will remain at the forefront of marketing strategies this year. Companies like Amazon have been using advanced data analytics to personalise customer experiences. Use algorithm to analyse browsing and purchase history to offer recommendations, and significantly influence purchase decisions.
Next trend is the pervasive use of marketing technology or MarTech by marketers across the spectrum. AI will play an increasingly prominent role in MarTech. CMOs will harness AI for predictive analytics, chatbots, content generation, customer segmentation, and enhancing overall customer experiences. They will increasingly rely on AI-driven tools to automate repetitive tasks, optimise ad targeting, and streamline customer interactions.
Chatbots, predictive analytics, and automated campaign optimisation will become more sophisticated, enhancing efficiency and customer engagement. Sales teams will integrates AI capabilities into its marketing automation platform, enabling predictive lead scoring, content recommendations, and automated email marketing campaigns based on customer behaviour.
Third, with the rise of the metaverse and immersive technologies, CMOs will explore opportunities to engage audiences in virtual and augmented reality experiences. Brands will experiment with creating immersive content and advertising within these virtual worlds. The metaverse may have taken a step back last year, but is expected to emerge as a new frontier for marketing in 2024.
Marketers will create virtual showrooms, events, and experiences to interact with audiences in novel ways. Nike has already dabbled in the metaverse with virtual sneaker designs and experiences. They engaged consumers by allowing them to design virtual sneakers and showcase them in AR (augmented reality) through their app.
Fourth, the prevalence of voice-activated devices and smart assistants will continue to shape consumer behaviour. CMOs will probably look at optimising their plans for voice search SEO and invest in conversational marketing tactics to engage customers through voice-enabled interactions. Brands will focus on providing seamless and engaging voice-based interactions with customers. Domino’s Pizza in the US utilises voice search optimisation, allowing customers to order pizza through voice commands on various platforms by leveraging technologies like Google Assistant and Alexa.
Although Unilever’s CEO had claimed that purpose-driven marketing was not helping brands’ profitability, that and sustainability will be the fifth major trend in 2024. Force-fitting a purpose will be probably counter-productive for brands. Consumers are increasingly mindful of brands’ values and their impact on the environment and society.
CMOs will need to focus on sustainability initiatives, ethical practices, and purpose-driven campaigns, aligning the brands with causes that resonate with their customers. Brands that align with causes and demonstrate genuine commitment to social and environmental issues will find more growth. Already many brands including Anthropologie and Patagonia are known for their sustainable and purpose-driven marketing. They advocate for environmental causes, transparently communicate their sustainability efforts, and encourage customers to buy responsibly.
The sixth major trend for this year will be video content dominance. Its consumption will be on the rise and CMOs will invest in various video formats including short-form videos, live streams, interactive videos, and shoppable videos to captivate audiences and drive engagement. Brands will have to focus on showing seamless paths to purchase directly from video content. Ban or boycott, TikTok has emerged as a powerful platform for shoppable video content. Brands collaborate with influencers and use TikTok’s native shopping features to create engaging video content.
In addition to these six major trends, there are a few more that might be apparent this year for CMOs to strategise on:
- Influencer marketing: Influencer marketing will evolve beyond traditional social media influencers. CMOs will collaborate with micro-influencers, nano-influencers, and even virtual influencers, seeking authenticity and niche audience engagement.
- Data privacy and compliance: Data privacy can be a good competitive advantage if done right. As regulations get evolved further, CMOs will prioritise compliance with regulations and focus on transparent data collection practices to earn and maintain consumer trust.
- CX/UX transformation: CMOs will place an increased emphasis on enhancing customer/user experiences across all touch points. This includes website optimisation for speed and accessibility, customer service improvements through AI-driven chatbots, and seamless omni-channel experience creation.
- NFTs and blockchain in marketing: Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and blockchain technology are expected to find applications in marketing, enabling unique ownership of digital assets, tokenised loyalty programmes, and verifiable authenticity of products. Blockchain in supplychain is already helping brands like Tata Motors deliver exact specs in their vehicles as per customer requirements.
As marketers we should anticipate these potential trends in 2024 and adapt our strategies accordingly. CMOs must position their brands for success in an ever-evolving marketing war out there – digitally and otherwise.
Muneer is a Fortune-500 advisor, startup investor and co-founder of the non-profit Medici Institute for Innovation. He tweets @MuneerMuh.