Every year, at just this time, marketing and insights experts around the globe weigh in on the key trends to consider for the year ahead. From consumer behaviour, to technology, to retail – these days, marketing seems to move at the speed of light. But, with so much information to absorb and so many different perspectives, how does a leader decipher what’s important for their unique brand and what to prioritize, pass on or pivot towards?
As insights experts ourselves, we love a good trend, but we believe that data without direction can be daunting. Our mission at Sklar Wilton & Associates is to help you gain clarity, so you can act boldly and with conviction to futureproof your business for long-term success.
To help you do just that, we’ve combed through the top reports and studies and have pulled together the three trends we feel will be shifting the way we market in 2022. Brands that adjust and adapt accordingly are poised to thrive in the new year and this new era of marketing.
1.Trust Reinvented: From Declaration to Invitation
The global pandemic has been like sunlight to all the dark portions of our economic system. It has revealed so many challenges consumers face in the acquisition of goods and in the reliability of companies to keep their word. In a sea of messaging that is becoming increasingly difficult to trust, two-way considerations will bridge the trust gap. This means respect and inquisitiveness for the consumer, just as they are learning to do with you. A company who treats consumers like a number will soon find themselves in the same boat.
The key elements of Trust Reinvented are:
- Reliability is a welcomed solace is a world that seems ever-changing and turbulent. “The Pandemic, economic precariousness and poor supply makes consumers struggle to know who they can trust.” (Forbes)
- Misinformation has overtaken our virtual life and has developed a healthy distrust for almost all online communications. “Disinformation as a service is on the rise and misinformation is easier to spread than ever before.” (PWC)
- Humanity is a deprived sensation due to recent circumstances and will be a tool to unlock loyalty. “Being apart from people in ‘normal’ ways has meaningful health risks. Travel, restaurants and other normal activities are fraught, and that is bad for everyone’s health.” (US-CDC)
Consumers are thinking more critically than ever about who they choose to associate with. This can impact everything from politics to the media and yes, even your brand and those of your competitors. Consumers are asking: How do I know which companies will produce quality goods, act ethically, and respect my personal data? How can I trust this business has my best interest in mind and will do what’s right?
What Businesses Can Do
Businesses can garner trust by shifting their messaging from declaration to invitation. Amongst the sea of misinformation, the credibility of claims has diminished and can only be rehabilitated through personal experience and perspective. Rather than pushing messages upon an already over-stimulated and skeptical population, act like an open book and provide an easy way to read. Tap into humanity and take the time to listen to consumers. A trusted friend is one that doesn’t only talk about themselves but is also interested in what others have to say. By listening, you will gain a better understanding of what they want to know and how they’d like to learn it.
Brands Getting it Right
Warby Parker meets the disclosure requirements of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. This requires an auditing of suppliers to meet standards for labour as a precondition to working with them. This includes an extensive (and public) Vendor Code of Conduct to reassure their customers.
2.The Digital Dilemma: From Data Mining to Data Investments
Digital tools are incredibly powerful, and they certainly can be beneficial, but companies’ reliance on advertising in the digital medium has typically been about the company, not the consumer. Many have been clumsy at best with utilizing the data, showcasing its power through identical banner ads that suffocate a consumer’s online experience to the point of inspiring ad blocking technologies. This invasive pattern has positioned the exchange of personal data as a complete burden more than anything else in the eyes of the consumer.
The key elements of the Digital Dilemma are:
- Data-investment is the new ‘conscious spending’, except consumers are giving away personal information rather than dollars. “Three-quarters of global executives surveyed say they will invest more in creating hybrid experiences over the next 12 months, with the goals of improving personalization (43%), customer connection (40%), and inclusive experiences (38%).” (Deloitte / WSJ)
- Accountability in how personal data is respected is at the top of brand expectations now that the use of personal data has grown so prevalent. “In turn, BBB Scam Tracker reports online shopping scams nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020, and the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust named online shopping scams as the riskiest scam of 2020. (BBB, 2021)
- Personalization benefits will be the intersection of what added value we can offer consumers in return for their personal data. “Companies must understand which “personalized” transactions consumers find useful and appropriate. For example, 68% of respondents find alerts about sale items helpful, while 11% consider them creepy. (Deloitte / WSJ)
Consumers are more protective of their personal data than ever before. When they provide consent to share this information, it is an investment for them. And like all investments, they expect a real value in return which should show up as enhanced services and personalized experiences. Consumers are asking, why can’t I get what I want, when I want it in the way I want to get it, anytime and every time?
What Businesses Can Do
Businesses looking to better serve the new consumer in 2022 will recognize hesitancy to share personal information while also expecting more personalization than ever. The tension between these forces may seem counterintuitive (data = personalization, no data = generic), but can be released through a worthy exchange. When consumers invest their sacred data, they can expect to receive something of worth. The reality is that this ‘something of worth’ is far beyond what they have expected in the past. It is up to each business to find an angle to leveraging the data that will provide an experience that is unique, personalized, and most importantly better than if they were to provide no data at all.
Brands Getting it Right
Gatorade’s GX Sweat Patch and accompanying platform analyzes sweat from users and delivers them personalized refueling and nutrition recommendations to best suit their circumstance.
Making it Meaningful: From Cancel Culture to Empathy & Inclusion
The circumstances of the past two years have accelerated the public knowledge of how divided our world truly is. When does singular brand purpose become another form of division and exclusion? What if brands recognized common tangents between one another and banded together to make a more tangible impact? It will be the pooling of resources and disregarding of charitable vanity that brings purpose claims into impactful realities in 2022.
The key elements of Making it Meaningful are:
- Critical eyes are common, savvy, and move with swift vengeance in taking down false claims made by brands. “Shopping has become a political act. Here’s how it happened.” (Vox)
- Social Issues need to be addressed. Consumers want to know where you stand and expect brands to have voices in the conversation. “Ninety-four percent of Gen Zs expect companies to take a stand on important societal issues, and 90% say they are more willing to purchase products they deem beneficial to society.” (Deloitte / WSJ)
- Inclusion is about welcoming those who share your values and listening to those with different perspectives. “Company facing protests addresses consumer concerns: The €76 billion Italian energy company Enel now generates 45% of its power from renewable and carbon-neutral energy sources, preventing 92 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.” (Reuters, 2021)
Consumers expect more than a catchy mission statement. The critical eye reigns hard on fluff and empty promises. Indisputable action and conscious partnerships in the name of progress will be true indicators of authenticity. Consumers are asking, Do the companies I give money to care about people or have values that I share? Would they still be making these claims if no one was listening? Are they willing to let go of credit in the name of progress?
What Businesses Can Do
Businesses can make their brands meaningful to customers by recognizing that taking a stance does not mean excluding everyone who isn’t aligned. A business can and should move with empathy by listening to opposing stances and uncovering where we can work together to achieve a better future for all. Walking the walk is very important to the critical shopper and sometimes the only way to make progress is sharing resources with others. After the stress and anxiety of the last two years, consumers will be more discerning with their purchases. Undisputable action will be the only respected form of purpose, overshadowing all claims of social equity and inclusion until proven effects are made.
Brands Getting it Right
Global brands H&M Group, IKEA, Kingfisher, and Walmart have banded together in an effort called Race to Zero Breakthroughs: Retail Campaign. They’ve done this with the goal to fight against climate change and welcome others to do the same. Those who join must commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.