Guess what the marketing and tech worlds don’t need? More talking heads predicting trends and the “next big things.” Guess what this is? A “next big thing” article. Well, kinda. It’s more about things we saw emerge in 2012 that we are curious to see play out in 2013 — things that are fundamentally changing — or will change — the way we operate day in and day out.
By no means does the following entail everything that’s going to rattle our bones in 2013. Instead, it’s a collection of random thoughts inspired by a range of people here at Carrot Creative. But still, we’ll admit we’re playing the game of predicting the future. Oh, and you won’t see things like mobile commerce included — that falls into the “no shit” category. So, despite the “what to expect in 2013” overload that is sure to happen in the coming weeks, just suck it up, read it, get your mind blown or just provide some scathing comments telling us we’re idiots and all of these were circa 2009.
Touch Commerce (NFC-enabled Purchases)
“Tap that shit.”
This is still in its early stages, but every mobile marketing conference or panel you attend talks about it — and rightfully so. It’s about a tap-and-go approach to selling stuff anywhere at anytime: in-store, at an airport or even on the sleeve of your coffee cup. It’s both a godsend AND a nightmare for CRM data teams. But we anticipate a rapid adoption by consumers, especially with the large percentage of NFC-enabled phones projected by 2014.
There is so much stuff out there; stuff I want to buy. Yet I feel like I’m missing most of it. Not because I can’t find it, but because I don’t have the brainpower to sort through all the clutter. So I find myself greatly valuing individuals or other brands that help me find interesting products that align with my values, taste and style. The idea of curated commerce (or themed collections, buyer guides or whatever you want to call them) is not just about reselling other people’s products. It’s about providing additional value through discovery. In an isolated but relevant example, think about the role curation has played in the arts. The amount of art being produced around the world creates a need for specialists to help art enthusiasts find and purchase the pieces they like. So, as the already congested web becomes increasingly more cluttered with product options and marketing messages, we can only assume that trusted curators will become increasingly important.
Social Syncing — Adding Value Based on Social Data
“I’ll show you mine if you show me more.”
Several companies have started doing it — credit cards, a limited number of retailers and some travel and entertainment brands — but it’s still in its nascent stages. Having consumers link social profiles to their accounts provides all sorts of creative marketing opportunities ranging from completely dynamic shopping experiences to unlocking product offers to participation in contests.
Basically, as an industry, we have only started to design experiences based on multiple social inputs and, for the most part, they have been marketing stunts. Now, it’s about re-inventing or maybe “reshaping” shopping experiences — both online and offline — based on richer data sets. The skeptics will naturally be skeptical and say that consumers will not willingly provide brands with more personal information. Well, guess what? They will — as long as the brand is serious about adding NEW value over time.
Airbnb was supposed to fail because who would let a random person stay in their home?! TaskRabbit had no shot because who would hire some idiot down the road to mount a flat screen?! Well, these types of platforms proved haters wrong and demonstrated that, for the most part, people trust people. And so far, so good. Oh, and we heard some people were concerned about eBay, too.
Alright, let’s talk funnels — and not the party variety. I’m talking business: awareness, consideration, preference, action, loyalty and advocacy. We all know the role social is playing when it comes to filling the top of the funnel. We are even getting smarter about how to leverage social media with transactions and CRM. But what about preference?
Think about it. Is there any more important point in time — other than the actual transaction — than when a consumer decides, “that’s what I want, and I’m excited about it”? Shouldn’t that decision be embraced by the brand and used in an honest and authentic way to pique the interest of new customers? Of course it should be.
Facebook knows it (“want” button), Pinterest knows it (“pin it”), and brands know it (Target’s Black Friday app). And the best part is that consumers are willing to allow it. Why? Because most brand choices by consumers are made to reflect and demonstrate their personal brand, which they want to build, own, protect and share over time.
The idea of anti-consumerism isn’t anything new, we agree. But, as people gain instantaneous access to information about products and brands, they’re becoming more savvy and more selective. And there’s a rising trend — especially among Millennials — of generally owning less “stuff.” In a need-it-now world, there’s less of an emphasis on ownership and more on access. Think of the aforementioned Airbnb, ZipCar, Spotify — all extremely popular services that allow people to access both digital and physical products and experiences. It’s all the fun of a relationship without having to put a ring on it, so to speak. I know you’re probably saying, “but Black Friday sales…blah, blah, blah.” Here’s a little secret: Black Friday sales were driven primarily by big-ticket consumer electronic products, which haven’t yet found a way to tap into the idea of access over ownership. We smell an opportunity!
To wrap it up, I want to give props to someone I don’t know for something they said, uh, typed...
“Trends are born when simplicity meets new values.”
Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I found it. I do not remember who said it. Nor am I sure that I completely agree with it, but it resonated with me. It got me thinking whether or not this was THE simple articulation of why and how a trend comes to be a trend. Especially as they pertain to online consumer behaviors and, more specifically, what we buy and how we buy it.
Here’s to 2013, and I wish you all great success in selling shit. Godspeed.