Deloitte Identifies the Trends Upending Marketing

Deloitte- CRM Magazine: November 2021

The continuing COVID-19 pandemic is forcing brand leaders to holistically rethink their approaches to customer engagement and experience to remain competitive, Deloitte noted in its Global Marketing Trends Report, which identified seven trends unfolding in the marketing function.

Among its findings, the report noted that companies with annual growth of 10 percent or more that commit to an integrated purpose that mirrors stakeholder needs are gaining a competitive advantage. A holistic approach to purpose requires companies to put a premium on accountability and establish key performance metrics anchored around their purposes.

With a mix of physical and digital experiences becoming the norm, 75 percent of executives plan to invest more in delivering hybrid experiences during the coming year, the research found, prompting Deloitte to recommend that businesses start with human-centered design, which can marry the best of physical and digital while giving consumers greater choices.

The report also found that marketing leaders are looking for analytical experience more often than creative expertise as a skill among the people they hire. Historically pegged as a field for creatives, the rise in big data and artificial intelligence has changed the demands of the marketing profession, and leaders now need to find the right talent structure for their unique objectives, it said.

With the sunset of third-party cookies, high-growth companies are also taking the lead in the shift to a first-party environment, according to the research. Deloitte, therefore, recommends that marketing executives start investing in first-party data strategies, designing human-centric experiences, and forming deep relationships with ecosystem partners to gain access to walled gardens of data and corresponding insights.

By moving beyond point solutions to a 360-view that cohesively integrates people, data, and experiences, leaders can “use marketing as a powerful force for growth that fosters trust and meets human needs,” the report said.

The seven larger marketing trends identified in the report are as follows:

1. Purpose becomes a beacon for growth.

Many businesses are redefining their value propositions and how they make an impact beyond profit through purpose, but getting this right and resonating with consumers is no small task. When making purchasing decisions, consumers cited price and quality as top-three purchasing criteria between 61 percent and 86 percent of the time. Meanwhile, other criteria, including purpose-related factors, then become competitive differentiators. There is also evidence that companies that commit to purpose are gaining a critical competitive advantage. For the high-growth companies that have embraced this, purpose not only inspires product and service delivery, but also guides employee decision-making and corporate social responsibility investment strategy.

2. Marketing needs to be authentically inclusive.

As the consumer population diversifies, it’s imperative for companies to authentically reflect a range of backgrounds and experiences within their messaging, advertising, and brand campaigns. But it’s not enough to just market inclusiveness or diversity, as Deloitte’s research found that 57 percent of consumers are more loyal to companies that commit to actionably addressing social inequities and consumers want to support brands that represent them and their values. The data also showed that high-growth companies more frequently establish key performance metrics for diversity, equity, and inclusion and reduce the cultural and demographic distance between the makeup of their teams and target markets.

3. Companies are building the intelligent creative engine.

Marketing was once pegged as a field for creatives, but today’s leading organizations are hiring talent with more analytical skills as well. In the research, analytical expertise edged out creative skills in almost every industry, except for the consumer industry. However, this isn’t a one-to-one swap of creative skills for analytical and technical skills, it’s about CMOs building greater collaboration on teams, both internally and externally. This is especially important in hybrid work environments, where marketers see both opportunities and challenges in making the digital-physical construct of work successful. For the CMO, it’s less about organizational redesigns and more about a cultural shift that reshapes how marketers work toward common goals that unlock dynamic creative outcomes.

4. Businesses need to meet customers in a cookieless world.

While consumers might appreciate relevant ads, many also have concerns about how their personal information, purchase preferences, and browsing habits are being used. In response, regulations have tightened, and many web browsers and tech companies are disabling third-party cookies, making it harder for marketers to engage with customers.

The research found that 61 percent of high-growth companies are shifting to first-party data, while only 40 percent of negative-growth companies say the same. The leaders are deploying first-party data for delivering personalized content via dynamic creative optimization (51 percent vs. 36 percent) and using data to serve ads to users via programmatic media (49 percent vs. 29 percent).

5. Data experiences must also be human-first.

Consumers are increasingly wary of companies that seem to follow their every move, with 68 percent say they found it helpful when companies alerted them when items went on sale. Conversely, 53 percent reacted negatively when it appeared their social media feed showed them an ad because their devices were listening to them. To adjust, CMOs must work with chief information security officers to cultivate customer trust through better data practices, designing experiences that create value, provide transparency, and empower customers to control their own data journeys.

6. The hybrid experience is elevating.

Now that companies are more adept at digital delivery, the next challenge is providing the best integrated physical and digital, or hybrid, experiences. In fact, 75 percent of executives said they will invest more in delivering hybrid experiences during the next 12 months to increase personalization (43 percent), innovation (43 percent), customer connection (40 percent) and inclusion (38 percent). Businesses can elevate their hybrid experiences by expanding choices, integrating feedback, and investing in the technological infrastructure that can bring these design principles to life. They should also use human-centered design to make their physical and digital experiences as agile and flexible as consumers expect, Deloitte advises.

7. Customer service is being supercharged with AI.

A dynamic experience for customers means delivering the assistance and information they need, when, where and how they want it. In fact, when asked which information they found most helpful in making purchasing decisions, consumers said timely offers and knowledgeable customer service topped the list. With these insights, marketers can work to optimize AI within the customer experience, achieving harmony between the human side of customer service centers and machine capabilities to better serve their customers and their bottom lines.

“The pandemic and societal reckonings of the past 18 months have irrevocably changed consumer expectations. Brands must work even harder to build dynamic, strong connections with their customers in order to thrive,” said Stacy Kemp, a principal at Deloitte Consulting and marketing and customer strategy leader, pointing out that companies should “continue to move beyond point solutions to address the entire customer experience, including activating purpose and overhauling customer data strategies, to reap the success of being a high-growth organization.”

“Business and marketing leaders are at a tipping point in terms of customer experience and engagement,” said Barbara Venneman, a principal at Deloitte Consulting and global advertising, marketing, and commerce offering leader at Deloitte Digital. “The macro trends unfolding in the market are only making the marketing function more complex. This is a profound opportunity for business and marketing leaders to steer their organizations’ strategies to move ahead in their industries. Organizations must examine what comprises the basis of dynamic customer experience—people, data and experiences—and holistically rethink every engagement a brand has with customers from start to finish.”

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