Focus on customer data and experience – the year ahead
The marketing and retail landscapes experienced immense disruption throughout 2017. Several announcements from Amazon – including the unveiling of a futuristic grocery store and the acquisition of Whole Foods in the US – began changing the way marketers and brands view the e-commerce and brick-and-mortar spaces. In the UK, Black Friday sales increased on the previous year, with the bulk of spending online. Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all debit and credit card transactions in the UK, estimated that Black Friday spending finished up 8% on 2016. Artificial Intelligence (AI) experienced momentum in both the marketing and consumer landscapes, with the continued development and use of chatbots, in-store shopping assistants, smart home speakers and more.
What can we expect in 2018? Consumer experience will continue to be paramount in 2018 with shoppers expecting even more value from brands, restaurants and retailers – getting access to relevant savings, convenience and an easy shopping experience. It will be critical for marketers to improve consumers’ shopping experiences – both online and in-store. This also means they need to have a consumer-centric approach to marketing – blending first-party and third-party data to reach, engage, influence and activate consumers.
The abundance of data challenges marketers to drive relevancy in a fast-paced, disruptive industry. We’ll see the continued growth of data, stemming from Internet of Things (IoT) devices, expanding media options and the low cost of storage to the point where marketers may feel overwhelmed. The expansion of data engineering teams, more sophisticated data mobilisation, and the continued growth of analytics, data science and AI tools will help guide marketers. As innovation continues, change will be constant, markets will be disrupted and consumers will have more options and expect more control. Marketers and advertisers will have to keep up with this fast-paced rate of change and may face an additional challenge as consumers become more hesitant to share personal data unless brands can better provide well-defined value propositions.