What could/should advertising look like in 2020?
Truly responsive – As the world becomes more inundated with brand noise and marketers pushing their messages at consumers through every medium imaginable, those who work to understand and respond to the consumer on a deeper level will have the greatest results. Without a deeper, richer understanding of the consumer, the medium, message and desired experience will be lost amongst all the others.
Individualism specific to message and medium – In the future, the ability to track consumer behaviors in real time will exist. Messaging will adapt to a consumer’s changing preferences and mood almost on demand, informing and enhancing purchasing decisions in real time. It is that level of individual understanding that researchers will seek in order to communicate and engage consumers. By understanding at this level, the marketer of the future can then begin to communicate with that consumer at the right time, right place and with the right message.
A broader scope of what advertising means – Advertising will be seen as an avenue to creating meaningful experiencing. In the traditional sense advertising pushed the message; in the future advertising will be tasked with planting seeds of desire, expectations, aspirations that intrigue and pull the consumer along the path to thinking that it was his or her idea, giving a sense of ownership and full decision-making power. Advertising of the future will not be tasked with creating desire outside the consumer’s frame of reference, but instead spark an innate desire from within the consumer’s own frame of reference. The consumer experience will be much richer and deeper, and marketers will leverage advertising to achieve that.
Mining is the norm – Research tools to seek consumer insights, whether through social listening, applied or will be the norm for all levels of brand spending and consumer engagement. Marketers will begin to be seen as listeners and miners of knowledge, and processes to gather knowledge will be ongoing and proactive to better anticipate the needs, wants and fears of the consumers.
What should we do now to get ready for the future?
Commit to understanding the consumer – No longer are consumer insights and understanding just the responsibility of a single agency department or individual. As the role of the account manager splits and shifts primarily to brand manager as opposed to brand strategist, the newly created roles of agency strategist and consumer insights manager have to shift further as well – consumer understanding and insight generation can no longer sit in isolation in the office down the hall, acting as the lone voice of the consumer. Consumer insights must be seen as everyone’s responsibility. We all must be consumer-inspired, from our thinking through to our execution. To better engage and build loyalty with the consumer, the entire working team must seek to understand on a deeper level in order to demonstrate we’ve heard them and we know what matters most to them.
Focus on user experience – We all must channel the consumer experience and be fully aware of what we intend. The term UX may be new to some, but the concept is as old as time. Consider the planning of a perfect evening for a loved one: consideration is given to what’s said, where it’s said and how it’s said. Every detail of the experience is fully considered and embraced to ensure a lasting positive impression. Now look back on how the evening went, did you miss anything? That feedback and understanding is invaluable to ensuring they feel heard, understood and valued. Now translate that intent to the agency environment, and the user experience now becomes everyone’s responsibility, not just that of a single individual. But all can’t lie within the walls of the agency — the client and all agency partners must work together to become single-minded in their thinking, ensuring the consumer’s journey is at the forefront at all times. Every decision made effects the consumer in some form or another.
Understand the consumer to fulfill their aspirations – We as marketers must invent new and more effective ways to communicate with consumers. As deeper insights are drawn, clarity on reaching and engaging the consumer becomes a natural and organic process, pushing the standard slate of mediums aside. It’s this new level of understanding and connection that now moves consumers naturally to the decision-making process without feeling as if they’ve been sold.