If there was ever a time of uncertainty, now seems to fit the bill. With a pandemic working its way across the globe and virtually everyone social distancing, businesses everywhere are feeling the burden. Clearly, we’re in uncharted territory. While this seems like a perfect opportunity to simply batten down the hatches and ride out the storm, and certainly some are doing that, it is also a time to think differently.
1. What trends should small business owners look for in 2020 (and beyond)?
In 2020, personalization will be one of the most pronounced trends, as it will become more commonplace with large brands looking to capitalize on consumers’ growing desire for customized or tailor-made personalized experiences. This means that websites, email marketing, and social media amongst other marketing platforms will allow for customers to opt-in to sharing information (participate in surveys, quizzes, polls, etc) which offers specialized content, products or service recommendations based on the customer’s specific needs. While this may seem like a hard mountain to climb for small businesses that lack the resources to invest in personalization technology or tactics, they can do little things such as segment their email marketing campaigns to provide a more personalized interaction. They can also begin pairing complimentary products or services together (products or services that customers tend to buy together) to provide more customized recommendations. Personalization is really about putting the focus back on the customer and creating customer-centric marketing. That means that a little effort can go a long way in really understanding the needs, interests and wants of your customers.
Before Superbowl 54 advertisements hit the airwaves, our prediction was that this year's ads would have a very different feel than previous years. Of course, we still saw our fair share of quick-wit and clever advertisements, but as suspected, purpose-driven ads took center stage. We watched as Goggle reminded us that it’s more than a search engine, it is a brilliant way to track and relive your most heartfelt memories. Secret inspired us with a seemingly common football game only to surprise us that the players were female, unveiling the clever close: let’s kick inequality. Budweiser gave us their version of the “Typical American” highlighting the common experiences that make us uniquely American. It was the year that many Superbowl brands finally embraced the brilliance of being larger than their brand by being purpose driven.
In the mid 2000’s, the health and wellness market was growing quickly but still in its fitful youth. The market growth was increasing steadily, but its consistent success came with its own challenges. Back then, the big question was what’s next? Despite its pace of growth, the industry was a fraction of what it is today. Now, natural and organic products are about as mainstream as it gets, and it is a market in perpetual growth. There are remarkable parallels between the natural market back then and the fashion industry right now. Before you scoff, consider this. It wasn’t that long ago that organic and natural foods market had yet to hit mainstream just like eco-fashion has yet to hit the collective conscious. Environmentally aware consumers are no longer a fringe market. They are on the rise and impacting the marketplace with rapid fire, but the industry as a whole has yet to wake to this. Just ask H&M CEO, Karl-Johan Persson, who recently bemoaned consumer shaming of fast-fashion brands. The natural and organic market had its arrogance too, but ignoring the growing consumer consciousness change won’t make sustainable fashion go away. The fashion industry is either going to listen to the customer and embrace sustainable fashion going mainstream or risk losing its vogue. Here are the top lessons the fashion industry can learn from the health and wellness market.
Let’s be honest, Facebook has a consumer trust issue. Too bad Mark Zuckerberg and others within Facebook don’t seem aware of the public’s perceptions. Facebook recently announced that it will not be fact-checking political ads. They positioned this decision as allowing consumers to decipherer what is real and what is faux. Mind you, they do police and prohibit other ads such as digestible CBD products, but false political ads are clearly more lucrative. Despite Mr. Zuckerberg stating otherwise, we know that according to Facebook’s own claims 126 million Americans may have been exposed to Russia propaganda ads in the 2016 elections. The number alone ensures that the ad revenue off of these ads wasn’t chump change. No wonder, Facebook is happy to cash-in once again in the 2020 elections.
While the world watched a tough, passionate 16-year-old from Sweden take on the very real and pressing issue of climate change, I kept thinking about the impact to brands. After all, an estimated 7.5 million people across the world participated in the climate strike, and many others supported virtually. The end result is that whether brands like it or not, eco-consciousness is now firmly on consumers’ minds and their awareness is sure to increase as the effects of climate change continue to be felt. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity to brands that wish to address their customers’ increasing eco-mindfulness, but have yet to do so or don’t know where to begin. The good news is that there is much to be gained by embracing this growing environmental awareness with brands positioning themselves as purpose-driven. There are three important lessons that brands can learn from Greta Thunberg.
Let me start by saying that I’m not a flavor expert, food engineer or coffee pundit. I am, however, a coffee lover and brand expert. So, when asked about my thoughts on whether the pumpkin spice latte and tea craze is waning, I had to give it some serious thought. After all, one can’t argue that pumpkin spice drinks haven’t been a smashing success. When first introduced, it was the perfect seasonal drink, bringing all the smells, images and experiences of fall to consumers’ palates. This alone requires props. Beyond that, there are still many pumpkin spice fans out there, but as with all things brand-related, staying fresh is the name of the game. That is, perhaps, the biggest hurdle for pumpkin spice’s staying power. It is beginning to feel tired and over-used. As such, it is time for coffee and tea companies to step up and launch exciting, new flavors that offer pioneering tastes and experiences to today’s customer.
Recently, I was on the phone with a prospective client. We were discussing our firm’s approach to the market which focuses on valuing the customer and creating a personal connection with them. As I continued to rattle on, I was interrupted by a question, “what does creating a personal connection have to do with a B2B customer?” I have to admit that the questions stopped me in my tracks. While my mind went to “because your customer is a human being and wants to be treated as a unique individual” regardless if they work for a B2C or B2B business, I realized that the question was sincere. It struck me then that in some industries, there is a perception that the goal should be to preserve a business as usual stance. The logic goes something like this: You have a product or service that other businesses need, you send them the sales sheet on all the benefits, and they make a decision based on those said benefits. The truth is that marketing has evolved – and, yes, even in the B2B world – your customers want you to understand their specific needs, value their unique wants, and understand who they are – personally. This is the reality, so holding firm to how things used to work quickly results in your company lacking relevance. No one wants that. Here are the top changes to the business to business customer behavior and how your company can utilize them to flourish.
We all know them. Those brands that look like they are stuck in time. Their colors don’t look current, neither does their style, typography, and imagery. Their messaging looks like it was written for a different era and their packaging… Well, please don’t even get me started. Now this is an extreme example, but there are many less egregious instances out there. While we all know companies who suffer from a time warp affliction, even brands that feel relevant to today’s customers can fall into the trap of appearing stale in the fast-paced, ever-evolving, digital marketing world. Often a quick review of a brand’s social media pages can be the tell-tale sign of a brand that needs a refresh. The good news is that this is one of the easiest platforms for staying relevant because of the simplicity in updating your messaging. Here are 3 ways to identify if your brand needs a present-day refresh.
Personalization in marketing can mean different things to different people. Some think of personalization only as it relates to email marketing and simple things like using your customers first name in your email messaging. Others think of personalization as curating products that are of the highest interest to your customer through your ecommerce store. Some think of personalization as the straightforward approach of eliminating unnecessary information to improve the customer experience. At Think, we view personalization tactics as an extension of a YOU-centric marketing mindset that puts the customer’s needs, wants and desires first.