Marketers from Sainsbury’s, Direct Line, Debenhams and more share their predictions for 2019

Marketers take a look into the future and predict the key trends that will shape the industry and impact their role in 2019.

Richard Cristofoli, managing director, beauty and marketing, Debenhams
“We’re going to see this continued trend of marketers having to justify the level of investment they are making on any platform and at any level, first to their businesses and shareholders, and then to their customers and their colleagues.

“Personalisation is only going to grow in importance and trying to tailor and target messages to customers in a way they find interesting and relevant.

“New messages and new newsworthy ideas are going to continue to be ever more important. So you need to be part of the conversation. While one in five customers trust a brand ambassador [according to Debenhams research], over 90% trust peer-to-peer recommendations. Being part of the conversation feeds into that: how do you get on people’s radar so they become your media vehicle rather than just those very conventional media buying vehicles as a route?”

Mark Evans, marketing director, Direct Line Group
“The debate continues around the balance between aiming for short-term performance marketing and long-term brand building. In 2019 I think we will see a tipping point where more brands move towards making more decisions based on a long-term view, even in the face of an immediate impact upon short term sales.

“The IPA is driving this conversation and new layers of research from Binet & Field pour more fuel on the flames so now there is no lack of visibility or evidence. Smarter marketers are waking up to this and putting more holistic measurement frameworks in place so that they can still demonstrate accountability but in a more balanced way across short- and long-term time frames.

“On another note, brand purpose has become an over-used phrase. It tends to lack genuine meaning and is frequently a fancy way of describing how a brand has a nifty sales promotion device to make people feel good about buying something. Genuine purpose is based upon caring deeply about an underlying consumer need where there is an enlightened self-interest. This is where purpose fuels the success of a brand.

“In 2019, I hope to see more focus on personal purpose – finding out what intrinsically drives an individual and enabling them to be the best version of themselves. In this case, the word purpose has much more resonance. By finding out what an individual’s USP or “spike” is, individuals, brands and consumers all benefit in the long term.”

Helen Hunter, chief data officer, Sainsbury’s
“Nectar’s machine learning algorithm serves marketing communications in real time. It’s predicting what the 35,000 SKUs 16 million people are going to buy and it’s doing that on the fly. I think we can expect to see more of that [across sectors]. Human beings can never get to the same level of granularity that a machine learning algorithm can so it’s the new frontier.

“The other big trend is how we keep humans in the loop. The partnership between human ingenuity/intuition and creativity and the machine. We’re only just starting to see that start to come to the fore.”

Yilmaz Erceyes, marketing director, Premier Foods
“Plant-based eating will continue to gain strength, becoming more mainstream, where we’ll see accelerated adoption within non vegan/vegetarian consumers. We will see an increased rate of innovation in this area.

“We will also see the continued emergence of evidence-based marketing (as opposed to myth based marketing). Data analytics will become more central in marketing decision making and leveraged in identifying and unlocking growth opportunities. There’s been a period where marketers ‘abandoned logic while seeking magic’, which resulted in slower or no growth, and as a result brand investment was perceived as a discretionary spend. I see this tide starting to turn behind more evidence of sustainable growth coming from innovation and brand building which is underpinned by evidence-based marketing plans.

“I predict that the top marketing talent will increasingly shift from big multinational corporates to more regional medium-sized players, where marketers can still have solid learning and development while having more fulfilling jobs. This will give them the opportunity to wrap their arms around a brand, having full ownership and making a bigger impact, from long-term strategy to delivery. I don’t think ‘brand purpose’ will be enough, it will be the meaningful roles with broader scope and bigger impact that attract the best marketing talent.”

Gary Kibble, marketing director, Argos
“My view is that some of those things that have been coming quickly over the last few years are going to continue to grow bigger. Use of data: not only use but more importantly how we take that to insight and then out to action. This is the biggest thing I’m excited about.

“I don’t think there’s anything out there from a channel perspective, nothing that’s going to blind-sight us.

Another major change on the horizon is consolidation in the market and I can’t help but think it’s going to get harder for some before it gets easier as we move into next year and that creates opportunity for those that continue to deliver on customer need.”

Neil Kirby, marketing director, Bupa Global
“Personalisation and customisation of the customer experience will continue in 2019. While digital is still key, we’re finding that providing an engaging offline experience is becoming increasingly important, particularly in approaching high net worth customers. The ability to seamlessly blend both offline and online strategies to create a high-value customer experience, as we have done through our sponsorship with the Barbican Art Gallery, is only set to grow in 2019.”

Eileen O’Mara, CMO EMEA, Salesforce
“From an internal perspective, it’s about alignment across the business, being that connected glue and that connecting voice. And that’s everything from service, sales and marketing.
Also, I think marketers everywhere need to increase the conversation and their understanding of technology. Not martech but technology as a platform. It will be important because a customer experience can come from anywhere and where that customer is in your internal environment is going to be critical to creating those intimate long term relationships.”

Danielle Atkins, chief brand officer, Kodak
“Purpose has been talked about a lot in marketing and branding for a long time, but I think it’s actually becoming a reality. You’re actually starting to see action and less talk, and I think it will continue to be a trend and it needs to be: that’s what people want.

“Rather than from a traditional advertising and marketing background, I come from of more of an experience and events background, and I’ve always felt that how people experience a brand is a really critical part of it. The traditional piece of ‘the logo goes here’ and ‘the colour is this’, is quite outdated and the whole purpose piece is inextricably linked to that experience, because I think people are becoming much more conscious and you see much more philanthropic giving. I think philanthropy is a big trend and understanding that we can’t keep doing what we’re doing to the planet. Consumers are getting more aware, more conscious and more interested in where things have come from.

“Purpose has been a trend for ages, but now you’re seeing companies actually delivering against purpose, which I think is kind of interesting.”

Rory McEntee, marketing director, Gymbox
“I expect social to continue to dominate our communications but the age of perfection will diminish. With the rise of awareness around mental health and research on the detrimental effects of social media, I predict a shift in how social is accepted. Coupled with a rise in digital detox as consumers opt for embracing brand experiences. At Gymbox, we are looking at creating unique experiences, both in gym and external events for customers to engage with them on a more personal level.”

Katie McAllister, CMO, TUI UK and Ireland
“Understanding individual needs and precisely targeting communications will only become more important in 2019. People’s holiday requirements are varied and complex so it is really important we serve them content that’s relevant to them. This year we completed a major piece of insights work that has given us a full 360-degree understanding of our entire customer base. This level of understanding will enable us to truly personalise every touch point of the customer journey from the very first interaction. It will also inform our media choices allowing us to be creative and get the best value from our spend.”

Sarah Tortoreti, vice-president of marketing, VidCon
“We expect to see an increase in brands to prioritising real-world experiences that reflect their target audiences’ personal passions. At VidCon, we embrace the symbiotic relationship between our community’s online and offline life. We’ve seen first-hand the power of experiential interaction with a brand that hasn’t been possible to scale before now.”

To read more of Marketing Week’s trends for 2019, sponsored by Salesforce, head here.