In the final piece of our 5-part series on SapientNitro’s ‘Insights 2012′, a forecast report looking to where the world of marketing will head, we look at the five year outlook of trends that will influence the way marketers communicate in the near future.

 

Tomorrow’s consumers are empowered. They share, they recommend and they are impatient. According to Rob Gonda, global head of innovation at SapientNitro Miami and Hilding Anderson, senior, manager of research and insights at SapientNitro Washington DC, this means that brands will be forced to respond and react faster and better.

“Social, geo, local, mobile – all these terms reflect a new reality: an empowered consumer with more information and tools than any one brand or individual can handle.”

The two authors predict the trends that will shape the marketing industry, dubbed the ‘SapientNitro Seven’.

Trend 1: Transmedia storytelling

With the evolution of consumers comes the evolution of marketing: it’s moving away from simply being a one-value message broadcast. As consumers embrace technology and consume media at their own pace and in their own terms, the notion of trust is also slipping out of brands’ control and shifting to peers and authoritative figures. Consumers will continue to choose to tap into their friends’ networks for recommendations.

However, expect the coming of ‘an era of data and friendship overload’. Simply put, there will be an overwhelming amount of information and recommendations to access, and consumers will revert back to seeking advice by experts elevated by brands.

The authors maintain that it is crucial for messages to be consistent across all channels to earn the trust of skeptical consumers.

“Today’s art of storytelling goes beyond narrative and requires the understanding of networks, group dynamics, and social spread. The introduction of social media has further coined terms such as ‘social currency’, ‘likeonomics’, and ‘attentionomics’, all attempting to put a structure around the art of word of mouth conversation propagation and influence.”

Trend 2: Data is the new Holy Grail

According to Gonda and Anderson, data is the most undervalued aspect of marketing. It should not be seen as just analytics, or used as an afterthought or for strategy refinement. Instead, it should be used to drive personalised experiences for consumers by analysing data in real time to predict future consumer actions and optimise brand exposure.

Trend 3: Technology invades and enables advertising and marketing

Today’s customer experience is driven by technology, and it’s important to keep a watchful eye on the impact that pure technology companies have in the marketing world. Examples include Google Labs and the advancement of HTML5.

Trend 4: Digital invades retail

With the integration of physical and digital worlds, Gonda and Anderson believe that the largest opportunities for growth are happening in retail environments.

“Innovative brands are using digital experiences to draw new customers, enhance shopping experiences, extend and facilitate social communications and integrate mobile payments.”

Some of these innovations include ambient in-store interaction and richer product experience with the ability to get more information like reviews and promotions and instant second opinions via social circles without leaving the store.

Trend 5: Collaboration and co-creation

Research and development, manufacturing, marketing and retail used to be different, and exclusive silos, but with the feedback loops now open, every aspect of a business is now inter-connected, and the consumer has a voice and wants to have a say in your brand, your products and your community.

Smart brands should elevate and drive this passion and allow their advocates to evangelise, influence connections and provide feedback.

A further step in brand advocate involvement is actual co-creation, from store experience to advertising to product range. It gives fans a sense of belonging, ownership, early buy-in and guaranteed success.

Trend 6: Cloudification

‘The cloud’ has been growing, and with its endless storage and processing power, it is reducing barriers to entry and giving birth to more start-up services than ever before, The key here is to produce a connected experience, allowing consumers to sync content across various media and platforms.

Trend 7: Real-time everything

With text messages, chats and live feeds, consumers have a new level of expectations of responsiveness from brands. They must evolve to cater to this expectation. However, it also allows brands to access real-time data, enabling them to be more relevant to change situations and providing contextually relevant messages.

The world of data has evolved from being used to analyse the past, to optimise the present, and ultimately to predict the future. Real-time data gives brands the ability to combine and compute massive sources of data to build the most effective communication and make real-time decisions.

 

For SapientNitro’s predictions for 2012:

Part 1: Death of the media planner?

Part 2: Social Media: Let go and listen

Part 3: Context is key to mobile experience

Part 4: Technology is the saviour, not bane, of marketers