Retail Gazette’s new publication Marketing Beat recently asked for my comment on the latest CIM research. Read the write up here.
The research is a deep dive into the fears of marketers. I offer what the research suggests and what you can do proactively to own and guide your company and consumers for a brighter future.
The highlights of the research suggest:
Top Level “UK marketers warn that pandemic and inflation have changed consumer expectations of brands”
- Majority of marketers (59%) finding it harder to predict consumer priorities, with nine in ten (91%) claiming their brand and business model will need to evolve to keep pace
- Over a quarter (28%) believe their brand is out of touch with changed consumer needs
- Convenience tops table of fastest-growing consumer priorities, followed by overall value for money and environmental impact tied at second place
The Top 10 most significant swings in consumer buying habits:
My Comments & Breakdown of the CIM Research.
The CIM Research is a fascinating look into what and how Marketers are thinking. We have all experienced shifts over the last few years and will be a tech-driven rollercoaster for many in the coming years without the proper thought and reshaping of departments alongside Marketing taking a step up to own the customer and evolve roles around the customer.
The report highlights a number of recent trends and the demand for instant results – this reflects the demands on modern-day Marketing and Growth teams.
Not Understanding The Shifts
Over the last decade, Marketing Teams have reacted to a number of times, from the consume era (webpages with mostly text) of the web, to the creation phase of the web (YouTube to Facebook to Instagram, TikTok) Marketing Departments have struggled to understand how to be relevant and how to cut through the noise.
This is often down to a team full of specialists and then not enough internal training between colleagues to help increase skills across the department. This has meant departments are full of teams from disciplines rather than departments that work together to build the right campaigns.
With the constant stream of content to consume via our numerous feeds and inboxes, gaining that cut-through is a collaborative effort not just “more content”, “more ads” or “more digital”. It is better creation, curation and distribution. This has not and will not change for years to come.
Business Overhaul And Consistent Change
The challenge here is radical change within a decade will be too late. Business overhauls can take a long time, consistent change and smart step changes are arguably more effective than driving better results.
Running pricing changes, leveraging different partners, and investing in better tech are often the strategic steps to win, rather than having to make big bang drastic change. Big change often negatively impacts the internal team leading to poor execution.
It took years of careful and strategic planning alongside a flexible roadmap for Disney to build the infrastructure, redesign its departments and build internal confidence to shift its business to support Disney+.
I always recommend most businesses review their operating models and business models and look for efficiencies that can be optimised quarterly and look to deliver and message this as soon as possible.
Long term planning has to be more than just making a list of expected changes and asking teams to deliver upon these changes. It is the smart and deliberate action of understanding what it is going to take, collaborating with departments on requirements, hiring, reshaping their orgs and techs and then prioritising of their plan.
Reshape Your Marketing Department
With “78% of marketers believe it is their role within their business to represent the voice of the customer, however, it is clear many are struggling to understand changing consumer habits” it is time for Marketing leaders to consider how they reshape their Marketing organisation to become closer to the customer and to understand how technology and the use of apps are changing your landscape. Reshaping now for long term success is vital for survival.
There are many proactive ways to address these including creating and connecting with customer panels and connecting with customer support teams, reviewing the CS tickets to readdress any ongoing issues and reshaping product or product offerings.
Many companies rely on their Tech orgs or Product org to inform the business of changes, it is time to share better internal knowledge and discuss any shifts as soon as they happen and lean into the future. There is likely someone within your team who is on top of tech changes and trends and isn’t given the platform to inform and educate those around them, particularly busy Marketing Leads.
Time For A CCO
With “28% of Marketers believing their brand is out of touch with changed consumer needs”, there have to be hard internal conversations between Marketing, Product and Finance Leaders alongside the Founder/CEO to address this rebalance of what the offerings are and how to build the products answering consumer needs.
The CCO (Chief Customer Officer) role has begun to be introduced into businesses and influence more businesses holistically.
If Marketers want to positively influence change, the time is now to bring Customer Support (and Customer Success) into the Marketing org and reconnect and drive conversation and product forward.
Whether this means changing, creating or collaborating, it is essential that Marketing Departments are building relationships, being partners with customers and target consumers and creating actual communities rather than groups we send blasts and broadcasts to.
Missing Piece – Convenience
An imperative part of Marketing is how convenient you are, yes we have seen shifts towards values-based Marketing and environmental issues, however, most customers demand the most convenience and will buy from those they trust to deliver (this is why Prime and Premium offerings work so well for consumers and companies) or know they will have stock and will deliver to where they want the product delivered too. Convenience will always win out in the physical and virtual.
71% suggested having the option to buy-now-pay-later is more important now, consider how this could have a negative impact in the long term.
What aids conversion rate today may hinder in the future: With so many BNPL providers reporting huge losses, many folding across the world, we will see consolidation, impacting the affordability of this service and many customers will unfortunately truly understand BNPL and its impact it is having when these are struggling to be paid back.
Over-Reliance On Tools
If teams rely too heavily on tools and do not take the time to understand the piping and the platforms, the tools can only optimise to certain points.
It is important for Marketers to go deeper and understand how platforms and networks work and this will place them in a better position to optimise campaigns and gain better results.
Remember: Tech requires the human input and will do for years to come.
Make The Most Out Of L&D Budgets
This is where Marketers should be proactively reshaping their learning and development, making the most out of the personal development budgets and selecting the right course or right Marketing coaching for future successes.
Attending a conference and hearing a case study or learning about certain platforms can help but these changes often aren’t relevant, essential skill development and understanding the underlying tech and algorithms will prepare many for longer-term success than learning about a platform that will fizzle out within the year.
Predicting and re-forecasting the near term is as hard if not harder than predicting the long term currently, the CIM research rightly calls out the macro and microeconomics we are facing. It is important to reflect this at brand and comms level and plan accordingly.
Better training, better planning and better analysis will help reshape your Marketing orgs to win.
Businesses and their offering always have to evolve, it is something we have known for years, with the pace of change and competition being bigger and better than ever, Marketers have another opportunity to be creative, be bold and drive their brand forward.
The fundamentals of brands haven’t changed but whether your brand is front of mind and has offered a great experience has, many brands are so dependent on how their partners delivery and are big parts of the journey and experience our customers have.
Brands have never been as dilutable as they are today so getting it right every time is essential.
Less Trend Chasing
Something many Marketers shifted towards is chasing (the short term) trends and neglecting bigger themes and shifts and not influencing these shifts. Until Marketing teams stop chasing trends and feel the need to be connected to everything – you will be considered noise and ultimately be filtered on affinity-based social apps and email providers will filter you into promotion, other and spam boxes.
Consumers’ behaviour is resetting, this is tied to the return to the office, return to travelling, return to some normalcy and with this the annual ambitions of travel we have started to reset back towards 2019, it will be time for Marketing Departments to arrange strategic long-range planning and put together detail plans, act one year ahead, plan three years ahead and think five years ahead.
This process should be revisited every six months and the plan tweaked to represent large shifts. You will see changes and shifts week to week within the dashboard and analysis within your reports, it’s then on you to make the change and tweak the plan to maximise performance.
We are often guilty of being in and staying in the Marketing bubble and not being connected to what is really happening and understanding how the future is actually being shaped. It is an area that makes us and can break us. Constantly gain insights and intel: ask the customer panel you may have or be smart, ask your mum what she wants and knows, ask your friends who still religiously use Facebook, and ask the future seer what they expect to see.
This is the smart way to really understand if you are in a Marketing bubble or not.
The metaverse is in its infancy and the technical challenges are real, so understanding the PR and Marketing opportunity and weighting it with the short and mid-term business demands is going to be vital.
Nostalgia is often the undervalued tactic available in Marketers’ arsenal, understand if future learning or nostalgia is more powerful in your business.
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