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So much changed in 2021, even as the world stood still in many ways. Consumers are increasingly viewing digital content and embracing smart devices in all aspects of life, per eMarketer. Heightened concern around social issues and climate change have made Americans much more likely to vote with their wallets.
As 2022 gets underway, marketers must understand these shifts and be prepared to shift strategies to address them. Four key areas to note include:
1. Be a purpose driven brand
Businesses are increasingly facing pressure to expand their focus beyond profit to consider their overall purpose. Whether it’s re-evaluating the environmental impact of their supply chains or promoting diversity and inclusion to curb the effects of “The Great Resignation,” IAB Chief Strategy Officer Libby Morgan says, “The digital ecosystem will rise to support meaningful efforts.”
Kevin Quiring, who leads Accenture Strategy Customer Insights & Growth Strategy in North America, notes that brand trust and reputation are becoming increasingly important. “The push for purpose was gaining momentum before COVID-19 reshaped consumer preferences and behaviors,” Quiring writes on Accenture’s Business Functions blog. “The pandemic has simply made the need for purpose more widespread – and more urgent.”
Brands must have a purpose that goes beyond token initiatives on diversity or climate change, writes Katie Burkhart at Entrepreneur. A purpose is like a lens that aligns everything a company does with the lasting value it provides, Burkhart notes.
“Your business purpose is your company’s fundamental reason for being,” Burkhart writes. “It centers on your why — why your company exists, why it does what it does and why what it does matters.”
2. Ensure marketing is inclusive
Many brands are still behind the curve when it comes to reflecting the diversity of their customer base in their marketing. Young people in particular are sensitive to how representative advertising is when they consider a purchase, according to Deloitte Insights. Its research found that minorities were especially aware of whether a brand promotes diversity.
“As the consumer population diversifies – by race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, or differences in ability, for example – it’s imperative for brands to authentically reflect a range of backgrounds and experiences within their messaging if they expect to effectively connect with future customers,” several staff members note on the Deloitte insights blog.
3. Reach customers in a cookieless world
It’s been years in the making, but browser cookies are finally being phased out and 2022 is likely to be one of the final years that marketers can rely on them to glean behavioral insights and drive personalization. Several alternatives are in the works. Next year will be prime time to test those alternatives and determine which are most effective. As people increasingly access content and shop on a variety of devices and screens, it will be instrumental that any tracking alternative provides a holistic understanding of consumers.
“Marketers, advertisers, and data engineers alike are actively looking for solutions to determine what will happen next,” writes Pamela Bump at HubSpot. “If your advertising strategies rely on third-party data, start considering alternatives now.”
4. Use data, tech to drive personalization further
Personalization has been important as long as there has been digital marketing, but new technologies are pushing the possibilities to new levels. For example, global snack brand Mondelez used artificial intelligence to craft a personalized video ad campaign in India that featured Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan. The brand by using technology to embed the names of local retailers into the ad was able to build those retailers’ brand equity while reaching customers in a unique way, according to Business Insider India.
As people embraced technology and digital tools over the past two years, they also increased their expectations of their online experiences, Sharyn Leaver, senior vice president of research at Forrester, writes on the company blog, adding, “You’ve got to be ready to meet those expectations this year and in the future.”
Leaver cautions that sound data-driven insights are key to success, noting that 75% of the efforts business marketers make “to create automated, personalized engagement won’t meet ROI goals due to inadequate buyer insight.”
Marketers who consider these trends as they craft their overall strategies can begin 2022 prepared for whatever comes next in these unpredictable times.