Remember the days of feel-good annual marketing predictions? In those simpler times, forecasts were futuristic (“the year we say goodbye to AOL”), transformative (“expect a renaissance in email marketing“) and perhaps even obvious (“relationships rule“).
Welcome to 2019, where for every positive there is a negative… and for every brand-hero standing in the spotlight there is a brand-villain lurking around the corner.
In that spirit, the main theme for 2019 will be “heroes and villains”. With never-ending global referendums, the expanding gap between brand haves and have-nots and serious existential problems (climate change, fake news, poverty, access to healthcare), marketing teams will continue to position their brands as problem solvers.
In 2019, wherever there is a problem solver, there is a problem creator.
Put your superhero capes on, because marketing will not be a walk-in-the-park in 2019. Here’s why:
Recession Banter: Never mind the reality of the inverted yield curve, decelerating growth or tumbling stock markets, “recession” has already infiltrated mainstream dialogue. Whether a recession happens or not, expect the potential of an economic downturn to bombard our inboxes and social feeds. Unfortunately, Econ 101 tells us that economic activity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Hero because: An opportunity to enhance your brand’s value proposition in a decelerating economy. Operating models based on margin will sustain.
Villain because: Brands that lack strong equity will be forced to promote price. Operating models based on volume will struggle.
Luxury and Technology Intersection: As implementation friction is reduced, brands will continue to integrate technology into their product offerings. This dynamic is driven by injecting technology into the luxury value proposition (e.g., Louis Vuitton connected luggage). And, conversely, injecting luxury into the technology value proposition (e.g., Apple Watch). Where technology adoption is often impacted by a network effect, one challenge for luxury brands will be creating utility while maintaining scarcity. The challenge for mainstream technology brands will be creating a sufficient luxury value proposition to warrant a price premium.
Hero because: Opportunity for brands to transform and reach new segments with features and aspiration.
Villain because: It’s hard (but getting easier) to effectively execute luxury + technology.
Brand, Interruptor: Expect marketers to further capitalize on the ever-growing tool sets available to reach consumers. Besides methods such as text messaging, push notifications, email, cookie-driven display advertising, interactive kiosks, etc, marketers can now utilize machine learning, bots and personal data to enhance relevancy and increase frequency. Even historically laissez-faire brands such as Apple have joined the party, pushing out daily notifications on upcoming TV shows and even new iPhones.
Hero because: Frequency will drive engagement but only when combined with relevancy.
Villain because: The kid that screams the loudest gets the most attention. But if every kid screams, no one hears anything.
Amazon Brand Power: The coopetition between Amazon and big brands will become more competitive than cooperative in 2019. As Amazon’s slice of the growing e-commerce pie continues to increase, the pieces which remain will encroach on the home-territory of strong, established brands. As brands resist participating in Amazon’s channel, Amazon will continue to reinforce its own brand portfolio.
Hero because: Amazon is a mega-opportunity for product distribution.
Villain because: Amazon’s growing channel power.
Boring Consumer Technology: From Apple to Samsung, 2019 will mark another year of evolutionary – not revolutionary – advancements in consumer technology. Although we will continue to upgrade our phones, download new apps and trade-in our cars, there is no scalable game-changing technology on the horizon.
Hero because: Opportunity for true innovators; more affordable iPhones and OLED TVs for all of us.
Villain because: No big trends generating core product demand means less downloads, less accessories, less buzz.
Here Come The Robots: Robots represent a promise to make our lives easier, safer and more fun. On an organizational level, robots reduce costs and allow businesses to focus on core value creators. However, all of this comes at a tradeoff as highly profitable and highly employed industries are disrupted. As brands roll out machine learning and “AI” powered features, messaging needs to be carefully crafted to manage brand risks. For example, Uber and Lyft – on the cusp of going public in 2019 – will strive to position themselves as value creators rather than job destroyers.
Hero because: Your brand as value creator.
Villain because: Your brand as economic disruptor.
To succeed in 2019, brands must dream about the hero they may become while defending against the villain the market may create.
Want to talk more about your 2019 and beyond marketing strategy? For over 15 years, EquiBrand Consulting has been helping clients grow strong brands and businesses. Please contact us to learn more.