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The future of brand experience: 10 marketing trends

Want to make 2014 a great year for your brand and business? Here are the 10 trends we at Jack Morton believe will make a difference for brands in the year to come. From the obvious social media marketing tactics to the not so obvious (the next iPhone that's not an iPhone), we share our POV on the things we think will matter to marketers in 2014.

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The future of brand experience: 10 marketing trends

  1. 1. 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands
  3. 3. Make 2014 Matter It’s an exciting time to work in the world of brands. That’s not just because there are new technologies and tools emerging all the time to help marketers better understand, communicate and build relationships with their customers—it’s also because there’s such a strong (stronger than ever?) recognition of the impact that creativity, brand and experience have in fueling business growth. To that point, a great line from this year’s Cannes Festival of Creativity was this simple assertion by Coke’s CMO, Joe Tripodi: “We believe there’s a direct line of sight between creativity and performance in the marketplace.” Innovation abounds, and there are lots of trends that will matter for brands in the year to come. We can’t talk about all of them, but in the pages that follow we’ve called out the ten we think should matter most to brands in 2014. What will all this mean for brands? That depends, of course, on the brand, and on how brave its in-house team and agency partners are willing to be. Liz Bigham 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /3
  4. 4. #1 Twitter Takeover With Twitter’s IPO a recent memory and many of us royally sick of the 24/7 news coverage, it might not feel like we need to call out Twitter as a “trend”. Yet two important things will happen in 2014. First, in the year to come, Twitter will likely go mainstream in a big way. It currently has about 232 million active users (and some 600 million inactive); look for active users to grow significantly as it evolves from the quirky nerd of the social media world to top of the pack. Twitter is already the preferred social media network among teens; according to multiple studies, it’s more popular than Facebook among this age group.1 As go teens, so go the rest of us (although, having said that, one of my favorite Wall Street Journal stories this year was about a hugely influential grandmother on Twitter, @grannyny, so look for Twitter to perform as well with hipster grandmas). Second, Twitter will continue to reap the benefits of some very advertising-friendly decisions. It bought Vine. It continues to be open to outside developers working to find new applications for Twitter. It added photos and Vine videos to its Twitter feed, and advertisers are already experimenting (for better and worse) with the new possibilities. And even though it’s already far more mobile-advertising ready than the competition, it’s reported to be rolling out still more new mobile ad products. This March, Twitter predicted ad revenue in 2014 will top $1 billion—could it be even more? 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /4
  5. 5. #2 Relevant Retail Retail has been changed forever by e-commerce and always connected consumers. But the intriguing retail trend in 2014 isn’t doom-and-gloom (think “showrooming”, or cost-conscious consumers looking in-store and then buying online)—it’s the very positive evidence of brands figuring out how to make retail more relevant to consumers. Relevant retail comprises experiences that are built around giving shoppers what they want—and can only get in the physical store setting or a direct brand-to-customer interaction. Think expert staff, inspiring interactive technology and the chance to touch and feel products before making the purchase. Big box retailers still struggle with achieving this mix but can find inspiration from brands as 2 diverse as Burberry, IKEA and Warby Parker. Still other brands are achieving relevant retail through what Contagious calls “experiential vending machines” like the one L’Oréal Paris installed in a New York City subway station. As a woman approaches the machine, cameras and sensors in its mirrors detect her coloring and outfit and recommend eye, lip and nail products she can buy on the spot with a credit card. According to Contagious, “The appetite for new, ‘intelligent’ vending machines, which feature sensors, Wi-Fi-connectivity and LCD screens, is growing… [and will reach] 2.33 million [units] by 2016, predicts global market research firm TechNavio.” 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /5
  6. 6. #3 Rise of the CXO In their excellent book on customer experience, Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine assert that in the near future, “literally every company will compete on the basis of customer experience. In fact, they already do—most just don’t realize what that really means, what’s at stake, or how to do it well.” 3 Companies are increasingly aware that experience is critical to business success. Nine out of ten consumers say that they choose brands on the basis of the overall experience; six in ten say they’ll pay more for a brand that offers a unique experience.4 Better experience has been correlated to higher purchase intent, decreased customer churn and greater word of mouth awareness. And over a five-year period, companies with superior experiences beat so-called “experience laggards”—and the S&P 500 Index—on stock performance.5 Inevitably, as companies begin to invest in experience, they will look to experts inside their companies (as well as partners outside) to lead experience. The Chief Experience Officer, or CXO, will be on the rise in 2014 for a simple reason: by leading customer experience, CXOs help companies make more money (ka-ching!) and have a big role to play moving forward. 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /6
  7. 7. #4 Collaborative Economy Odds are, if you asked ten people to define “collaborative economy,” you’d get ten different answers. But that’s less an indication of confusion than it is of rich possibilities. Building from the basic premise of shared access rather than exclusive ownership, often enabled by technology and peer communities, what unites the many visions of collaborative economy is this: new pathways to growth for virtually any kind of brand. The most familiar forms of collaborative economy comprise the shared use/shared investment approach familiar from car-sharing brands like Zipcar (and now Hertz’s 24/7 and GM’s Relayrides), peer-to-peer accommodation companies like Airbnb, or (a current favorite among my over-scheduled friends), the chore outsourcing network TaskRabbit. Collaborative economies can also include the kinds of open marketplaces that are helping niche as well as mainstream brands achieve growth by collaborating with like-minded brands: think the new marketplace from TOMS shoes and Staples opening its e-commerce site to outside companies. Jeremiah Owyang estimates a 76% increase in collaborative marketplaces in 2013.6 Finally, 3D printing: it’s the most immediately relevant innovation in the collaborative economy world. It got a lot of press in 2013 but will certainly begin to have more mainstream impact in the year to come. For example, HP says it will enter the 3D marketplace in 2014, opening up the possibility that 3D will begin to shift normative models of fabrication and distribution in a big way.7 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /7
  8. 8. #5 User Experience Writ Large As a term, “user experience” has its roots in the internet—as do most things nowadays—and speaks to the profound leap in quality that occurred in the mid-1990s as web strategists began to define success around actual user interaction and behaviors versus static web features and design. Think of it as an outside-in approach (experience defined around users) versus inside out (experience defined by brand). Increasingly, brands are applying a user experience approach on a grander scale, applying its lessons outside the web. That’s evident in the rising interest in customer experience as a category of investment and in enlisting experience leaders like CXOs (see trend #3 above). One area that’s especially intriguing moving into 2014 is the application of user experience thinking around product design and brand extensions. Why? Because this is where it’s clearest that brands are seeking first to understand their customers’ lives and then to develop product offerings that actually meet their needs. An example now being tested in the Big Apple: American Express partnered with Verifone to enable its customers to use their rewards points to pay for cab rides in New York City.8 In the short term, this is a convenient way for customers to use rewards points, which often languish unused; longer term, it’s opening up much broader possibilities for the brand to encourage frequent, small uses in mobile settings. Another example: Heineken is testing a home draft beer machine concept in Italy and France, designed by renowned Marc Newson and called “The Sub”. 9 Think of it as “Nespresso for designer beer”—that is, re-imagining how a common consumer product is delivered, made and consumed in the home, as Nespresso did when it introduced single-serving capsules some five years ago. For Heineken, since the vast majority of beer consumption occurs in home, re-thinking this experience around native consumer behaviors makes incredibly good sense. 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /8
  9. 9. #6 The Next iPhone That s Not An iPhone By the 2013 holiday shopping season, Sony and Microsoft will be waging an epic battle for market share as each releases a game-changing new console: respectively, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This will play out in a big way for brands in 2014 and beyond. It’s hugely important for a variety of reasons. First, neither has released a major update of its console in almost a decade—and each is expanding computing power ten-fold (yes, you read that correctly). But second—and what truly makes this so important for brands— the possibilities of the new platforms go far beyond gaming. Xbox One in particular has been pitched to the advertising community as potentially revolutionizing media consumption by bringing together everything—TV, gaming, the web, Skype, you name it— in one connected, always-on, gesture-controlled device. Inevitably, a change this significant in hardware will have a big ripple effect on the media experience itself. Think of how much change was wrought on content when smart phones like the iPhone went mainstream. The impact of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One may be similar. 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /9
  10. 10. #7 Owned Media Strategies for Content Marketing “Content marketing” may sound as thrilling as a root canal, but it’s considered by many CMOs (78% according to one study) to be “the future of marketing”. Yet only half of those surveyed had strong content marketing strategies in place—suggesting both a need and an 10 opportunity for brands in 2014. First, the “what” of content marketing: it’s custom media that’s developed to initiate a conversation with customers, new or existing. Next, the “why”: in a market that’s both competitive and endlessly noisy, it’s critical to have a reason to talk with customers, especially if the conversation is around educating and adding value to their lives. Inbound marketing initiatives built around content are important for all brands, but they’re considered especially effective in the B2B space. The big question for brands is the “how”. Too often brands focus simply on the distribution channels—and that’s tempting when there are so many exciting things happening in the social media space. But arguably, the big opportunity for content marketing lies in the owned media space—that is, in developing unique brand experiences that engage customers more deeply, and that in turn generate a lot of word of mouth and ancillary user-generated content. In 2014, the content marketing trend should be a more strategic use of owned media like event marketing—since 67% of B2B marketers surveyed said events are the most effective tactic for content marketing— enhanced by a rigorous review of process and readiness for sharing content (see trend #8 below) as well as a commitment to great storytelling (see trend #10 below). 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /10
  11. 11. #8 Real Time Conversation One of the biggest surprise marketing coups of 2013—Oreo’s timely tweet during the Super Bowl blackout in February— will evolve and grow up as a big trend for 2014: real time marketing—or better yet, real time conversation. In the most basic sense, real time marketing is about responding quickly to events as they happen, hijacking a big moment in time that millions of people are already watching or talking about (thus Oreo’s genius “You can still dunk in the dark” Tweet during the Super Bowl). What does it take to turn a creative response around so quickly to an unforeseeable event? (As opposed to, say, the endless, long-planned and mostly unsuccessful attempts by brands to ride the coattails of the much-anticipated royal birth in July?) A lot of discipline and what many brands describe as a “newsroom” approach with staff and agencies deployed accordingly—and in fact that’s exactly what Tide’s brand team calls its rapid response 11 team: a newsdesk. The bigger opportunity in real time marketing is less about cute or too obvious tie-ins to events in culture and more about initiating conversations where brands have something relevant to contribute—connected, of course, to things consumers care about. Interestingly, among the brands doing well in this category: General Electric, which creates surprisingly relatable content celebrating little-known holidays like National Inventors’ Day and International Day of Radiology (nerds of the world, unite!) as an opening for talking about how innovative technology makes 12 life better. 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /11
  12. 12. #9 Big Data Gets Small With all the stories in 2013 about wearable devices—which mostly means Google Glass, but also Oakley Smart Glass, the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart Watch, GoPro cameras and other products—it’s inevitable that in 2014 we’ll see opportunities for brands to use big data in a very targeted way to enhance individual customer experiences. How? Big data helps brands use unthinkable quantities of consumer information to see the big picture, to unearth trends and identify opportunities that will grow their businesses. That’s great for brands, of course, but it’s not always evident how this will help consumers. Doesn’t it seem like objections about privacy issues escalate in direction proportion to the perception that big data and data mining are just about being sold more stuff or advertised to in more intrusive ways? Here’s the thing: brands can also use data to enhance consumer experience—precisely by going very small. By marrying big data insights to better understand customer experience with the pin-prick localization that comes from consumers equipped with wearable devices, brands can be truly brilliant at improving experience for individual customers. Retailers and service-driven brands like hotels, airlines and banks can use Google Glass and its ilk to offer enhanced guidance: imagine assembling a lamp with help from the retailer at home on your wearable device, or a concierge that anticipates your needs, or airline and banking service that doesn’t feel impersonal. “Big data” tends to occupy most of the conversation in marketing circles, particularly when holding company leaders make big pronouncements about advertising agencies becoming data companies, but the real story in 2014 should be brands using data to get up close and personal with consumers in ways that actually make experience better.13 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /12
  13. 13. #10 Storytelling Storytelling is so old, it’s new. It’s what we’ve always done to build brands. It’s truly transmedia. How we tell stories will (and must) always change, but being good at storytelling is tablestakes for our industry. If you’re not good at storytelling, it’s time to find a new job. Storytelling was one of the big buzzwords at Cannes this year, and some of the most awarded entries (think Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, or P&G’s Proud Sponsor of Moms) were masterpieces of the art. Moving into 2014, there are exciting developments at our disposal in the craft of storytelling for brands. Digital and social are ever more nimble and native to consumers’ daily experience—and the web is more rife with visual storytelling tools than ever. Think Vine, short-form Instagram videos, Snapchat and the addition of pictures and videos to Twitter’s feed (see trend #1). Skewing to the visual plays to the simple fact (the bane of copywriters everywhere) that people process visual information 60,000 times faster than they do written words.14 We waste a lot of time worrying about the categorization of what we create, but storytelling is a greater uniter than the media touchpoints that divide us. As Steven Althaus of BMW said at Cannes, “I beg us as an industry to stop talking about traditional and nontraditional. Everything is just a way of telling a story. We’re all storytellers here.” The bottom line for brands in 2014: balance a back-to-basics approach to storytelling (i.e., be great at it) with a stronger understanding of how all the touchpoints in the broader brand story fit together. 2014: 10 Things That Will Matter for Brands /13
  14. 14. Talk to Jack Footnotes 1. Contact: Liz Bigham E: T: +1 212 401 7212 2. Read our blog at Follow us on twitter @jackmorton Visit us online at 3. Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, Outside In: The Power of Putting the Customer at the Center of Your Business (2012). 4. Best Experience Brands: A Global Study by Jack Morton” (2013): http://www. 5. Watermark Consulting Analysis of CXi and Stock Performance, cited in Outside In. 6. 7. 8. aspx 9. About Jack Morton Jack Morton Worldwide is a global brand experience agency with offices on five continents. Our agency culture promotes breakthrough ideas about how experiences connect brands and people—in person, online, at retail and through the power of digital and word of mouth influence. We work with clients to create powerful and effective experiences that engage customers and consumers, launch products, align employees and build strong experience brands. Ranked at the top of our field, we’ve earned hundreds of awards for creativity, execution and effectiveness. © Jack Morton Worldwide 2013 10. for_2014_47524.aspx# 11. 12. 13. 14. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. JACK WHITE PAPERS To read our earlier white papers, visit our Slideshare channel at