A resorting of marketing priorities is afoot in the coming year. It was not all that long ago that purpose-driven marketing campaigns sat atop many brands’ marketing goals. Environmental, Social, and Governance Marketing (ESG) was the new big shiny trend that promised to revolutionize how brands connected with consumers who favored brands that mirrored sentiments on important social and sustainable issues.
While trendy, many warned that an over-commitment to ESG may adversely challenge a marketer’s primary objective to create a product or service that delivers a desired solution to a customer’s needs. The overreach by some extremely popular and successful companies over the past year has created a new historic benchmark for over-committing to a marketing ideology that clearly was not supported by a majority of consumers. It continues to be a desirable approach for a brand to be recognized as responsible and sustainable in today’s dynamic marketplace, but in the end, consumers’ primary reason to make a purchase decision can often evolve around things like does the shoe fit, is it the color right, and can I afford it?
As calamity continues to rain down upon the fortunes of many once-iconic brands, purpose-driven marketing strategies are giving way to an emphasis on practical marketing strategies in 2024. “Practicality is in, and purpose is out, according to Forrester’s predictions for business to consumer (B2C) marketing in 2024.” Mike Proulx, VP, and research director at Forrester, says “The overarching takeaway, is that in 2024, CMOs will lead with practicality, and purpose-driven decisions may take a backseat for the first time in a long time. Speaking out on social values as a brand has become that much more risky because of the contention that exists in the marketplace among consumers. It is a demanding situation at this point.”
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing will emerge more rapidly in 2024 as companies attempt to control marketing costs by leveraging machine learning to make automated decisions. Using AI, companies can boost the return on investment (ROI) of marketing campaigns through predictive modeling, advanced segmentation, and even personalization. To personally engage large segments of consumers on an economic scale, AI and machine learning are critical to implementing and measuring successful marketing campaigns and are accelerating the analysis and interpretation of data at a speed and volume beyond human capabilities.
The year will find those who earlier inserted the proverbial “toe in the AI water” are now posed to submerse the whole foot. AI-powered marketing tools like chatbots, voice search optimization and predictive analytics are about to become even more widespread. However, the challenge of developing complete trust in AI remains elusive to many brands because algorithms are dependent on imputed data to generate a result.
People like to read and learn from others’ experiences through a well-told and structured story where they feel as though they are part of the plot. In marketing, storytelling can create confidence in a brand’s ability to deliver a solution and make potential customers become ideal customers. Immersive technologies like AR and VR will be popular methods for storytelling and increasing consumer engagement in the coming year.
Consumers continue to desire relationship-building with brands that are genuine and authentic. Micro influencers, those who have fewer than 10,000 followers, can produce authentic and personable content that can establish trust and credibility among legions of followers. While they offer the smallest reach, micro influencers can be excellent partners for businesses looking to target specific communities and demographics with modest marketing spend. In the coming year, consumers will trend towards establishing relationships with these influencers over celebrity endorsements.
The most successful marketers will continue to focus attention on leveraging user-generated content (UGC) campaigns to engage an audience. By encouraging customers to share photos, videos, or testimonials featuring products or services, companies can showcase authentic experiences while also fostering a sense of community among customers. This approach taps into the power of collaboration, co-creation, and community building to create a more meaningful connection between brands and the target audience.
Consumers remain concerned about the privacy and use of personal data. Increased scrutiny of data handling policies and procedures must be prioritized to protect consumer trust. In 2024, companies that adopt and implement robust data privacy practices and transparent data policies will gain a competitive advantage.