By Adnan Bashir, Special to Gulf News

The late Peter Drucker once said, “Business has only two basic functions: marketing and innovation”.

Fast forward to the present and these words seem apt for a year that saw high-profile and high-impact campaigns such as Nike’s “Dream Crazier” and Gillette’s “The Best A Man Can Be”, not to mention MasterCard unveiling its all-new sonic brand, as well as The Brilliant Sound Experience pop-up from Sonos.

Marketing in 2019 saw the convergence of video, social media, sound and experiential marketing.

Needless to say, conventional print and video advertising are no longer enough.

What does this bode for the future? If 2019 was anything to go by, 2020 will be even more exciting. Where once catchy slogans from Madison Avenue and other creative hubs reigned supreme, marketers are now expected to craft more immersive and interactive experiences.

With a rapidly changing consumer landscape and a host of new technologies on the horizon, here are the trends that marketers should be cognizant of in the coming year and beyond:

1. Virtual Reality will come into its own

If you want your audience to listen, you need to speak their language.

And if the last few years have proven anything, it’s that VR (virtual reality) has proven to be an extremely effective bridge between brands and consumers.

From Excedrin to UNVR (United Nations Virtual Reality), organisations are starting to leverage VR as an engaging mode of storytelling. What is even more exciting is that the imminent arrival of 5G networks will prove to be a boon for VR.

With 5G testing and limited deployments gradually taking place around the world, it’s only a matter of time before the technology starts having an impact on the way brands and marketers strategise.

The ability for real-time response, coupled with less cumbersome hardware, will catalyse the mainstreaming of VR.

2. Experiential marketing will take more precedence

The consumer landscape today is a highly evolved and sophisticated one, digital-first and mobility-centric, where the status quo no longer holds relevance.

Disruption and innovation are the name of the game, and critical to capturing eyeballs.

The average citizen is hooked onto Instagram Stories, Snapchat, TikTok videos, VR and public activations.

Brands need to become the purveyors of experiences and this is something that marketers need to understand, in order to push the needle and make a difference.

There should be less emphasis on loud, in-your-face messages disseminated through television and print advertisements, and a major reorientation towards an experiential approach.

3. Data analytics and intelligence will dominate our future

It’s imperative to be aware of this: a deluge of data is being created by billions of consumers every day in a way that we have never witnessed before. With smart cities, the internet of Things and 5G technology close to fruition, the rate of data creation is only set to rise in the years to come — and marketers would be unwise to ignore this.

Having an analytics-led mindset will soon become a baseline competency within the marketing profession. By aggregating vast volumes of data and online “chatter”, an analytics function can create customer profiles, shed invaluable insights on purchasing patterns, product preferences and even inform the streamlining of processes.

4. Pay attention to 5G

5G is set to power the next connectivity boom. While popular discourse tends to liken the impact of 5G to what 4G achieved for video content several years ago, the reality is a lot more complex — and exciting — than that. With much lower latency, exponentially higher speeds and unprecedented bandwidth, applications ranging from VR to connected cars are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of this era-defining technology.

5G is not simply another step on the connectivity ladder; when fully realised, it will represent a gigantic leap forward in technological evolution, much like the internet or personal computing decades ago.

With new opportunities for richer content and more immersive forms of storytelling, there is no question that brand marketers need to keep an eye out for 5G and figure out the best way to leverage it, once it attains mass deployment.

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow”.

The implications of this quote from William Pollard are self-explanatory.

In an ever-changing business and technological landscape, and with increasingly demanding customers who have no dearth of choice, it’s not enough to bank on tried-and-tested methods.

As we move into a new decade, the winners of tomorrow will be those who think big and think differently.

— Adnan Bashir is a marketing and tech consultant based in Canada.