Trends to watch in 2011

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Liane Dietrich, managing director of LinkShare UK, discusses some of the trends making a splash in the retail sector in 2011 and explains how marketers should respond.

The retail sector, like the big dipper, is not without its ups and downs and performance both on and offline over the past 18 months has shown us how susceptible this industry is to the tightening of consumer purse strings.

It is also incredibly competitive with a plethora of brands, organisations and even celebrities all vying for consumer pounds. The challenge for marketers lies in developing eye-catching campaigns that capture the imagination of consumers while delivering on the bottom line.

However, this is also a market that refuses to sit still and as the new year begins we wanted to share our thoughts on what trends are likely to gather momentum in 2011 and to also discuss what shockwaves are expected following the recent VAT rise.

The growth of digital marketing

It’s no secret that digital marketing has been one of the definitive terms of the past 12 months but in a year which has witnessed a change in government, budget cuts and widespread redundancies we wanted to find out what the knock-on impact has been on digital marketing budgets. The results are reassuring with over two thirds of respondents (68%) believing 2011 will bring an increase in digital marketing budgets and suggests a rise in confidence of the results this channel to market can bring.

If further proof were needed, the fact that UK shoppers spent more than ever before online at Christmas shows the visible difference a combination of digital and traditional marketing can have on the bottom line.

The integration of video

The use of video in marketing campaigns is not necessarily new and thanks to the rise of YouTube, it is now one of the most popular tools to engage and amuse consumers alike. With broadcasters now serving increasing amounts of content online and YouTube enjoying over 1 billion online views a day, it comes as no surprise that video is expected to go from strength-to-strength this year.

The conversations we have had suggest that video is set to become firmly integrated into the marketing toolbox. In the same survey we found that almost a third of marketers believe video advertising will be one of the most widely used digital formats in 2011. Without a doubt, all eyes will be on video and marketers should take note and start thinking how this can be integrated into their campaigns.

The impact of VAT

The recent VAT rise is no secret and as shoppers brace themselves for potential price hikes, we wanted to understand how this would impact marketing campaigns. The results are encouraging and in today’s age of the individual, our survey found that a third of marketers (30%) expect to see a bigger focus on targeted campaigns versus their mass marketing counterparts.

However, a fifth of those we surveyed are planning to streamline their processes and make steps to increase efficiency, while a further 18 per cent are expected to encourage greater emphasis on measurement and ROI. Demonstrating confidence in the industry’s performance, only 18 per cent thought their budgets would be cut as a result of limited resources and just 7 per cent predicted a lack of funds would cause their company’s creativity to be stunted. The message is clear; the rise in VAT will manifest itself in more targeted campaigns that have a real impact on the consumer.

The future for shopping online

We cannot ignore the fundamental impact the launch of tablet devices, most notably Apple’s iPad, have had on the way people are shopping. With this, the rise of the app has dramatically changed the way people access, browse and purchase goods on the move. Some of the most popular and successful apps have managed to replicate the high-street shopping experience on the tablet, giving browsing a stronger air of luxury compared to traditional smartphones. This approach will almost certainly go mainstream and with the boom in the tablet market showing no signs of waning and so it is essential marketers look at how they can integrate mobile devices into the campaigns they run in 2011.

A prosperous year ahead

For marketers looking to increase their brands’ market share and continue to make a strong impression in the boardroom, there needs to be continued focus on the needs of the individual consumer. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is by implementing an affiliate marketing campaign. As a measurable approach, it is an excellent tool for marketers looking to tailor and maximise the ROI on campaigns and we for one will continue to sing the praises and ensure it remains high on the agenda of every marketers’ digital strategy next year.

In a world which is shrinking thanks to the immediacy of the web, it is also one where consumers expect to be treated as an individual and our survey suggests that marketers agree. We are optimistic about the next 12 months and in a climate where the next change is never far away, marketers have to move with the consumer, especially in the retail sector.

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