Future Gazing: Trends | DMA

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Future Gazing: Trends


Marketers are constantly looking into their crystal balls, trying to guess the next big trend for their brand or client. From experience, we know trends that start out small can go on to transform the way we live; a prime example being social media which, in the not too distant past, seemed like a fad for teenagers. Today, it is at the heart of many marketing campaigns and provides a platform for professionals to network. But how do we decide what to buy into? In order to avoid lagging behind, businesses of all shapes and sizes need to keep their fingers on the pulse, paying full attention to emerging trends and evaluating which ones are worth adopting. Here, we’ve picked a few that are beginning to shape the future…

Mobile, mobile, mobile

The mobile trend is, of course, nothing new. However, the “mobile-first” mindset is now seen as over-simplifying the user experience to a single device. The concept of the “first screen” and the “second screen” is perhaps no longer applicable; consumers are now digital natives, which means that all screens are blending together.

Instead, mobile will become ingrained in the marketing mix, being used as a core part of the overall customer journey. Internet access recently reached a tipping point, with 33% of users now surfing the web with their smartphone – that’s more than any other device. However, “mobile-first” is not so relevant anymore; instead we need to incorporate mobile into everything so that it helps support other channels, embracing a strategy that works across various channels. It’s all about creating a consistent and seamless digital experience.

Content: create, co-create, curate

The need for quality content is unlikely to ever slow down. The speed in which brands can generate unique, engaging and thought-provoking content, though, will play a part in their success. Visual content is likely to become more popular, but so too is user-generated content – from social posts and blogs to online reviews.

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world put more trust in word-of-mouth recommendations over any other form of advertising, with 70% stating the online consumer reviews are their second most trusted form. Three-quarters (76%) of the study’s participants are of the mindset that online reviews give them “insider knowledge” that could not be found anywhere else. In reaction to this model of content production, content ‘co-creation’ between the brand and the consumer will become the next big trend.

Data-driven marketing

Data-driven marketing is likely to become even more refined, and this will be based on relationship-building as opposed to intrusive and dated push marketing. The differences between these two approaches will become even more prominent, and those focusing on relationship building will reap the rewards. Consumers trading information with brands is part of this trend; but being transparent is key here, with people becoming more demanding in their expectations of transparency.

Video: every brand needs them

The use of marketing videos has been steadily growing over the past few years, and 100 million people now watch online video every single day. They are ideal for companies who wish to showcase their product or service in a way that is difficult to achieve with images and text only. This trend is set to continue, with more and more brands using ‘explainer videos’, product demos, how-to tutorials and interviews to reach, engage and educate their target audience.

Viral campaigns

The hope of creating a campaign that will go viral has altered the way marketers think. “Viral” is now the keyword for many brands, which means you have to connect with the consumer on such a level that they feel compelled to share it. Whether it’s hilarious or heartbreaking, we’ll be seeing more and more viral campaigns that get people talking. Tapping into emotion is the main factor that drives sharing. Issues arise when a viral video simply doesn’t match the product or brand in question; in the future, marketers will have to learn to manage expectations.

Instant messaging

Instant messaging sites, such as Snapchat, Whatsapp and WeChat have exploded in recent times; a staggering 50 billion messages are sent via WhatsApp every day, leading some brands to embrace a WhatsApp ‘share’ button to their web pages. Similarly, WeChat has a global audience of around 600 million, making it one of the most used apps in the world, particularly in China. Marketers are beginning to tap into the instant-messaging phenomenon, realising that it presents an entirely new means of social listening. By tracking these shares – known as ‘dark social’ shares – marketers can delve into personas and interest groups for retargeting.

Reincarnation of the funnel

The ‘funnel process’ way of thinking, where everything comes through the funnel at the right point, changed to the ‘path-to-purchase’ and is transforming into the ‘multi-path-to-purchase’. Value communication and engaging content through the right channels will be the only way to evoke emotion from these ‘always-on’ consumers – which ultimately leads to profitability.

Have you noticed any emerging trends this year?

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