I am by no means clairvoyant, but I talk to enough marketing managers and attend many industry conferences to offer my version of 2019 top trends and predictions.
1. Better For You and Social Responsibility TRend Is Here To Stay
Modern technology empowered consumers to seek products that meet their needs higher on Maslow's pyramid. The same technology allowed new business models and empowered niche brands to meet these new demands. More and more shoppers will seek better for you, natural and organic brands that align with their values and lifestyle. Brands that support social causes and stand for more than just physical features and benefits will continue to thrive. Social commerce will play a huge role in generating awareness and trial for these new niche brands, until they are no longer niche.
2. Frictionless Shopping Is The New Retail Battleground
Online and offline shopping will continue to merge, both in terms of M&A activity and partnerships, as well as technology capabilities that enable even more frictionless shopping experience. Click and collect for groceries and home delivery services will become mainstream and gain a loyal following. "Checkoutless" stores and "smart carts" will come to more cities. Making it easy for shoppers to part with their money and turning every store or website visit into a positive experience will be the new retailers' obsession.
3. Voice Commerce Is Still A Bright Shiny Object
Voice commerce, while a fascinating channel, will continue to be a niche in 2019, with many brands investing small amounts into learning how it works. It will take several more years for AI voice recognition technology to evolve to a point where shoppers can consistently rely on it to assist in shopping. Keep dabbling in voice commerce, but don't stress out if you don't see an ROI just yet.
4. E-Commerce Investments Will Become More Pragmatic
Massive pure play e-commerce retailers like Amazon will get more scrutiny from brands in terms of ROI. The “land grab” era where brands were trying to stake the territory at any cost to amass learnings and establish their presence is coming to an end, and tough questions will be asked about media and promo effectiveness.
As for retailer.com, or brick & click initiatives, they are likely to get more funding due to slow in-store sales growth. However, CPG companies will be less inclined to place all their growth bets on e-comm at the expense of effective in-store strategy since e-comm is still a relatively small channel that can't offset in-storer sales losses. Having visibility across in-store and e-comm domains and holistic JBP strategy will be paramount.
5. "Retail Media" Boom Will Continue
Pressure on brands to participate in “Retail Media” programs, or pay-to-play activities, will continue to mount as more and more retailers are rolling out such capabilities/platforms. Expect more retail chains launch their versions of Kroger Precision Marketing or Walmart WMX platforms. The challenge for CPGs will be to quickly and accurately measure these programs' ROI and to effectively navigate retail partners' siloed organizations. CPGs will need to leverage these digital and traditional media investments for incremental in-store support, where most sales and profits are still generated. This means that CPG sales has to learn marketing analytics and marketing analysts have to learn now to develop pragmatic, actionable insights and recommendations.
6. Micro-Influencers Will Command More Marketing Dollars
Due to continuous proliferation of media channels and mistrust in mass media, reliance on creators, bloggers and other social media personalities will be growing. Micro-influencers, as opposed to major celebrities, will become a more prominent channel for brand marketing. This is especially true for brands that are starting to market to Generation Z consumers who grew up consuming such content. Check out new platforms that are developed to help manage micro-influencer relationships and see if it's the right channel for your brand.
Do you agree with my observations? What other imminent and important trends are you paying attention to this year?
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