This is the time of the year that many marketers try to predict the trends that will shape the coming year and influence marketing and communications efforts. While no one can be absolutely sure of what will happen, these predictions do provide a sense of direction for making your plans.
Here’s a sampling of what some of these trend-spotters envision will influence marketing and communications decisions.
With people sharing so many things with their friends and colleagues, thanks to social networks, companies that understand and capitalize on the peer-to-peer sharing trend will be able to build more profitable customer relationships.
As the world becomes even more fast paced, stress is becoming a factor in making decisions. As it becomes more widely accepted as both a medical concern and a rising cost issue, companies will need to develop strategies that will help prevent and reduce stress. Companies that make life easier and more efficient will win a loyal following.
Integrated marketing and communications will become increasingly important in the development of overall strategies. Consumers now move effortlessly between mediums and communications channels. Companies that develop co-ordinated programs in order to interact on multiple occasions will have a better chance of staying connected with consumers.
As we increasingly live online in a virtual world, we’ll place a premium on sensory experiences. Companies should look for more ways to engage the senses – sounds, lights or smells – in products and experiences.
Building relationships and joint campaigns with like-minded and non-competitive companies will take on more importance as it becomes essential to be able to leverage marketing dollars so that they yield better results.
The importance of branding will become a more dominant force in reaching out to consumers. The aim of branding is to not only build awareness and create a good visual impression but to create interactions and build trust which will influence consumers and lead to a positive action.
The Internet is a place where almost every product can be found without help from any type of intermediary. This will continue to drastically change the purchasing process and pricing strategies. Just like the large companies, small-business owners, particularly retailers, need to find new ways to add 'value' to their products or services.
While health and happiness have always been important, they will take on a greater role as people position them higher up on their needs and wants list. Businesses, whether selling products and services, must be able to show that they can be a catalyst to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
In addition to trends there are some issues on the horizon that will impact how companies do business. One issue is privacy and how companies manage and protect their customers. It is not just the data collected when visiting a website or making a purchase, privacy issues with regards to security cameras and customer activities being recorded and tagged on some social networks are making headlines. Companies will need to amplify their commitment to privacy policies to ensure their customers know they are protected.
Lastly there is the economy and those unexpected storms that crop up. There can be no predictions made here but with proper planning and a good attitude 2013 can be happy and prosperous.
Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org"email@example.com.