SJC’s Marketing Predictions that Could Impact 2019

We asked some of our SJC subject experts - ranging in fields from content marketing and video to in-store design and packaging - for the trends that brands and retailers should plan for this year. Check out our 19 for 2019.

In our ever-changing media landscape, how will consumers engage with content differently in 2019? What trends should brands and retailers have on their radar to guide their strategic thinking and tactics for the coming year? We approached some of the subject experts across our Content, Print and Media divisions for their predictions. As we asked them individually, you’ll note certain themes re-occur, demonstrating their importance to 2019. And each offers a unique stance. From AI, Connected TV and no-checkout shopping to social e-commerce, niche magazines and sensory-based experiences, here’s a multi-platform “19 for 2019” round-up.
1. Rethinking the influencer. Influencers won’t be going away, but how brands collaborate with them and channel the content will definitely change. With the consumer well aware of false followers and fakery in this space, some brands will be replacing paid influencers with both user-generated content and more authentic brand advocates (nano influencers). Regular shoppers and experts that genuinely want to share brand love and are passionate about the company and its products. In other words, brands will be more diligent in selecting who they partner with and how they measure the influence.

2. All things video. Incorporating some form of video into your content plan is a must, such as the new bite-sized videos or snackable ads, geared to short attention spans and lasting no longer than 10 seconds. Or, more lengthy options like brand documentaries designed to pull on the heartstrings with the hopes of creating a more emotional connection with the consumer, and on-trend live video streaming (think product demo, office tour or join a fitness class — my personal fave).

3. Building loyalty. Retailers are shifting the e-commerce experience from a price-driven one-time purchase to also include a rich and engaging content hub. This added-value content not only helps the consumer make purchase decisions, but also goes a long way in establishing a long-term relationship. Offering up expertise and advice across multiple platforms is key to continuing the conversation and remaining top of mind with the shopper.

4. Print is most certainly not dying; however, the print landscape is changing. There is no doubt that the digital print market is growing. The value of digital has continued to grow from $131 billion in 2013 to a projected $187 billion by the end of 2018. We will always have clients that require large volume runs, but with a need for flexibility, customization and just-in-time production, an increasing number of companies will be focusing on short-run digital productions. This trend will drive the print industry in 2019.
SJC expert header_Maryam_Sanati_orange
5. In 2019, the practice of influencer marketing will be turned on its head. Instead of the hired-gun approach, companies will be encouraged to cultivate their own in-house experts and ambassadors. Random influencers will never be able to speak as authentically about your brand as your own people, who will be infinitely more invested in the brand’s work. Just remember that to be effective, what your people say—the content they put out—must be useful. It can’t just be: “Look how great we are.”

This year, companies will also rely on content to reach a brand new audience—their own staff. Faced with competition, brands are investing in talent retention and culture-building. They’ll see the value in speaking more openly and informatively to their own people to win hearts and minds.

6. 2019 will be the lead-in year for Gen Z marketing. With the early Gen Zs hitting their mid-twenties and Gen Y about to hit age 40, brands will focus to Gen Z as the primary target market. Overall, I believe that there will be significant shift in how brands determine their target market segmentation to not only capture the attention of this Gen Z  group, but all age groups away from the traditional age-based segmenting to focus on technology adoption and affinity marketing. For example, as more age groups move onto specific social networks and messaging tools, a brand will be more successful to differentiate based on the target market affinity interests as the age lines are blurred.

7. Over-the-top (OTT)* and Connected TV (CT)** marketing will find a stronger place in the media landscape. Through an OTT gaming console is the only way my son watches Netflix; brands he speaks of are the ones he sees during his gaming or OTT experiences. In mid-January, Netflix reported in its quarterly earnings letter that they are more concerned with Fortnite and Youtube than HBO. I now toggle between live television and streaming services directly on my CT. Brands have been slow to participate and advertise in these platforms, but as advertising opportunities and event planning around big events open up, good ole “product placement” marketing is back with a vengeance within these platforms. Brands can finally accept media’s new reality with Gen Zs who move from Twitch to Fortnite to streamed big-ticket events via CT or OTT.

* OTT  or over-the-top: television programming delivered over the open internet regardless of which device it is viewed on
** CTV or connected TV: portion of the OTT universe that is viewed on an actual television set, usually through a streaming device or via a smart TV

8. The Year of Voice – Voice search will consume SEO efforts and what I like to call “voice-tainment” such as podcasts. Voice search will see the hockey stick effect we saw with mobile adoption of websites in recent years’ past. Brands must adjust their SEO effects to experience the growth in its early stages.

9. Video content will continue to be key but in 2019 polished and highly produced videos will be out-performed by live, organic hits via Instastories and IGTV. The exception might be videos enhanced via augmented reality.

10. The “influence” from micro-influencers and nano-influencers will continue to gain traction. But there’s a new player on the scene and that’s the influencer-editor. The OG of influence is getting into the game and providing the expertise and authenticity that is fostering genuine engagement. Twinning this influence with reader experiences ensures and reinforces the power of the “mother brand.”

11. Two other areas for growth in 2019: niche magazines and social e-commerce. Niche magazines—like micro-influencers—will increasingly out perform mass market publications. Innovate and focus your content or exit stage left. Social e-commerce will continue to grow, which represents an opportunity for magazines to offer virtual pop-up stores in their social feeds that are curated, covetable and trustworthy.

This year promises to be as rock-n-roll as the last for our ever-changing multi-media landscape. #bebold

12. Media that does well in 2019 will be those companies that truly understand their brand, audience and current as well as future customers. Armed with that knowledge, they will then be able to identify and pursue entirely new lines of business to diversity their product and revenue base. There are a number of clear winners already emerging on this front.
13. With the advancement of technology, online and ecomm, we will see an increase in Experiential Retail. Creating emotional and unique experiences for customers and appealing to the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. These experiences will need to be meaningful, personal and more human, both online and in-store. One-size-fits-all no longer works and creativity is key. Data collected from customers will help to create unique and desirable experiences. Customers will be drawn in by their favorite music or scent, artistic installations and tasty treats. Product sizing will become customized and less generic, collections curated to personal taste. Brands that can enrich your lifestyle will win.

On the emotional side, values play an important role and customers will be loyal to brands supporting a cause and giving back to communities. Speaking to real experiences and being genuine about product features and benefits will build and sustain trust in brands. Human interaction and shared experiences become a focus. John Lewis UK and our very own Loblaw PC present strong spots from this past Christmas which speak to touching moments.

14. Most of us are already connected to 3-5 pieces of technology on a regular basis. In the next two years that number is expected to jump to 30+ as we become more integrated with IoT and machine learning takes hold. This technology has now set us on a path of disruption that isn’t going to end any time soon. It has also led to very focused consumer expectations. “I Want What I Want When I Want it” is the new consumer mantra – which means brands will have to create a multitude of content varieties in order to not only meet, but take advantage of this expectation. The influence of AI, along with the combination of channels, technology, data, expectations, and an appetite for experiences, will drive content marketing in 2019 and beyond. The expectation is, “I Want What I Want When I Want it.” The definition of that expectation in content marketing terms is “Content that meets personalized needs at any time of choice.”
15. I am thrilled to see the amount of enthusiasm that’s finally being shown for the NEW Retail Experience. Watching progressive retailers who are recognizing the need to creatively bring together online and bricks and mortar experiences to their customers. I’m extremely excited about the future of retail from that perspective, not only as a retail strategist, but mostly as a consumer.

Having spent much of my time walking the floor of the store I’ve become accustomed to recognizing the innate personality of a store and the unique level of personal engagement and energy that they bring each project. It is very nuanced, very much an aura and it comes in many diverse forms of interaction, from the purest one-on-one to the complexities of a dynamic kinship with technology. Cultivating these engagements and nurturing them is a critical element of not just survival, but a huge potential for growth in this new era of retail encroaching upon us. I encourage you to keep an eye on the many exciting examples of global initiatives all around us, then go forth and build upon them.

16. Year after year we read claims that “Print is Dead!” I see things differently – we are on the brink of the renaissance of print and Print Industry 2.0. The proof? In 2018, multiple successful business leaders invested hundreds of millions of their hard-earned dollars in print. In addition to being more trustworthy, print creates effective, sustainable communication, powerful brand messages and content depth. Print delivers a level of information and accuracy far superior to online – reading and a perception of what’s on the paper reduces stress and is basically far less transient than monitors and screens, which even the younger generation of digital natives has come to appreciate. There continues to be an affinity for magazines, books, and other printed materials, because the perception you experience when reading a printed book is sensory – a benefit that print media will never lose.

That being said print still needs to change. Although there will still be a need for long run print production, the addition of mini runs, mass customization, analytics, variable data, direct mail and digital colour printing is creating this change and I am excited to see what 2019 has in store.

17. After a difficult year for the reputations of so many big players, 2019 will be the year of experimentation in marketing. Companies are seeing fewer sure things, and want to take back control of their results — and be willing to try a lot of different strategies to show what’s right for their firm. Some of that is insourcing, but it also opens the door to a new era of collaboration between brands and creative service providers.
18. A packaging trend to watch for this year will be the specialized reformatting of packages driven by online sales. Online retailer Amazon has asked suppliers of consumer staples to rework packaging and help cut their shipping costs, resulting in new formats for dozens of products such as liquid Tide detergent: the plastic jug has been replaced by a plastic-lined corrugated box that holds more liquid with less weight, and requires only a shipping label without additional packing. Judging by its appearance, the makers of boxed wines were way ahead of the curve on this one, even if the wines weren’t always the best.
19. In Retail, nothing ever stands still. It is constantly changing.

There is a definite rise in culture. The moment is huge. Context and timing is everything. What is going to matter the most?
Convergence of Convenience and Time.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced some form of self-checkout and scan-and-go. This is not novelty. A new generation of brick and mortar shopping is already being tested and will become the norm before we can even blink: shop and leave. Literally. No scan, no checkout. Pick up a product off the shelf and literally exit the store. It’s fascinating technology.

Forget Omnichannel. It’s about Omnipresent.

I think we are living a time where [retailers/brands] can’t ask people to look at something.
Do it and people will notice.

Serving customers seamlessly…while driving what is right in personalization…and unlock convenience at every touchpoint…
…How do you do that?