What’s in store for 2018? Marketers share their predictions

Brand purpose will grow up, eSports will become a big sponsorship opportunity and data use will evolve – just three predictions for 2018. Read on for the rest…

‘People will realise digital marketing and marketing are one in the same’

Zoe Burns-Shore, head of brand and marketing at First Direct 

“I see a few things happening next year. First, everyone outside those working in marketing will continue to believe that no-one watches telly, while all secretly watching telly.

“Secondly, I think at least 100 new digital platforms will be launched that all promise to make everyone’s marketing more personal and relevant – a few of them might actually do that. Hopefully, more companies will start to realise digital marketing and marketing are one in the same, and the joy of all of that is seeing how everything works together, not in channel-led silos. Fingers crossed. I’m ever the optimist.”

READ MORE: L’Oréal’s new CMO on why brands shouldn’t have a digital strategy

Brands will become more political and purpose will grow up’

Rachel Bristow, director of client partnerships and collaboration at Sky Media

“It’s no longer enough for brands to be passive about their brand identity as consumers are expecting more from the brands they engage with. Often this means taking a political viewpoint in order to be relevant and engaging. This year several brands have used controversies linked to President Trump as a platform to vocalise their political stance.

“Starbucks, Airbnb and Lyft saw a brand boost from commenting on the US immigration ban while Unilever published a print ad in The Times and Guardian mocking Trump’s administration by listing “alternative facts” about Dove deodorant. Although having a political voice can elevate a brand’s purpose, it comes with a host of reputation risks which brands need to carefully consider.

“Corporate social responsibility also helps align a brand with a purpose while mitigating some of those reputation risks of being politically vocal. Our aim with Sky’s #OceanRescue campaign is to inspire and educate people about the vast amount of plastic which goes in to our oceans, devastating the entire ecosystem.”

‘eSports is going to get bigger’

Harry Lang, marketing director at online sportsbook Pinnacle.com 

“In terms of what I think will be a big marketing trend in 2018 I’m going with eSports. What was a bedroom hobby only a few years ago is now competing with football, American football and hockey as a mainstream global sport and filling out similar size stadiums to boot.

“Now it’s getting organised and brands are paying over the odds to jump on the bandwagon – the trend lines suggest it’s only going to get bigger. If you’re trying to appeal to the tricky 16 to 25 demographic it’s got to be in your consideration pile as a potential sponsorship or media partner.”

READ MORE: What’s the value of being an early sponsor of emerging sports?

‘There will be an evolution in the way marketers use and present data insights’

Aedamar Howlett, marketing director at Coca-Cola Great Britain 

“We will add more choice and breadth to our portfolio by launching exciting new products that tap into macro consumer trends like healthy living, exotic flavours and on-the-go snacking, as well as different ways to serve our products, like instant freeze or direct through Amazon.

“Aside from our products, we will evolve the ways we communicate and engage our consumers. The trend for instant, real-time conversations and connections with brands will continue, next year we have plans to put choosing a new flavour ‘twist’ for Fanta, straight into consumers hands. 

“We’re also trialling chat bots and AI, as well as investing in editorial-style content-led media partnerships that tap into the mass appeal of social influencers to consumers.

“Underpinning this, is an evolution in the way marketers use and present data insights. In 2017 we undertook our largest-ever brand acceleration programme for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, including our biggest-ever sampling campaign. The insights this gave us will allow a more personalised, targeted approach for 2018, enabling us to really get under the skin of our consumers and deliver them the drinks and experiences they want and love.”

‘Brands that have a credible differentiator aligned with their brand heritage will win’

Craig Greenberg, head of strategic planning and insight at William Grant & Sons UK

“As consumers are constantly bombarded with information across various channels, we will see more brands attempting to cut through the clutter to become memorable. However, it has to be authentic and communicated in the right way. For example, we are seeing the launch of a lot gins with headline grabbing properties, such as ‘anti-ageing gin’. These may pick up instant interest, but it is brands that have a differentiator aligned with their brand heritage in a credible way that will win in the long term.

“Secondly, I think consumers will seek brands that build on their identity, meaning a bigger push towards ‘local’ specificity in luxury brands. Going forwards in a period of uncertainty, big brands may feel detached from a sense of place and strive to get closer to communities. For example, we’re seeing more and more bars, such as London’s Long Arm Brewery, opening with their own breweries.”

‘There will be continued growth in ecommerce’

Ben Rhodes, group marketing director at Royal Mail 

“We can expect to see continued growth in retail ecommerce – and the associated need for more convenience and choice in delivery and return options.

“At the same time, I expect consumer trust in messaging received via physical mail to continue to grow, compared with digital channels. Businesses will look to rebalance their media investments back towards broadcast and traditional channels such as mail to support long-term ROI.”