Customer expectations of the brands they do business with are shifting. Digital information has been invited into nearly every crevice, niche and on-demand moment of our lives. Customers, especially those of us in the 16-45 age range, have developed new and fast-evolving expectations surrounding e-commerce and digital brand interaction.
Here are 5 more trends that will take root, take off, or both, in 2014:
#1. Bite-Sized Content
As they say, “Great things come in small packages.” If your brand wants to connect with young audiences (15-35-year-olds), it’s time to start having fun. Young audiences want to be entertained, and the brands that can create engaging, clever content with speed, humor and personality are going to be noticed. This will be the year to embrace the six-second Vine, the 140-character Tweet, the addictive Pin, the Instagram filter and short-lived Snapchat snapshot. Become the master short-attention storyteller and young people will recommend you, follow you and, most of all, purchase from you.
#2. Millennials: The Baton is Passed
The Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers are aging and a new hip generation with very different ideals and expectations is coming into power—buying power that is. But these Millennials are different than the generations that came before them. They don’t watch as much TV or read as many newspapers. Instead they are plugged-in and online. They also care more about what their friends think than what is newest, fastest, or cheapest. They don’t like to be dictated to, preferring to be spoken with. If you want to win the loyalty these tough cookies, you need to be in their (digital) space, speaking to them as equals, and ready to listen.
#3. The Rise of Content Marketing
Traditional marketing efforts focus on promotion. And in the past, consumers made their decision based on just that. But today’s consumers are becoming savvy, more informed and wary of anything perceived as brand-centric advertising. Customers do not want a direct sales pitch. Outside of the direct and indirect SEO benefits it delivers, this is why content marketing shines. Instead of “selling,” it shares insights, answers questions, educates and entertains. Content marketing focuses on the needs of the consumer first, not what products offer. Content marketing helps develop trust, brand awareness and goodwill that soft-sells consumers from the top of the funnel into lasting relationships.
#4. Gender Equilibrium
It should be no surprise that the roles of men and women are shifting. In more families, dad stays at home while mom works. This is the time to break the boundaries. Skin care isn’t just for her, power tools aren’t just for him, and everyone does the dishes while watching “Monday Night Football.” Traditional gender-specific brands are branching out to the other 50%.
#5. Big Data = Big Results
We’ve said it before, Big Data isn’t just for Big Business, it’s for good business. One thing we know is that the right data can yield some seriously good results. When there is a problem to be solved, 2014 is the year to actually analyze the question and gather results. Data aggregations have become more integrated, streamlined, compact and (most of all) more useful. The new year brings Big Data into maturity. Embrace it, and use it well.
What do you think is the next breakthrough change? What are you doing to embrace it? We’re listening.
See our previous article in this two-part series: “5 Digital Trends for 2014”