Two years is generally too short a period for any cycle of change to manifest itself, hold sway and finally become permanent. COVID-19 has defied that trend. The new normal that the pandemic has set off in the ecosystem in which brands, businesses and consumers operate reinforced itself in a fast-forward mode in 2021.
The world went into an overdrive to pin down the virus, taking a two-pronged approach. First was to defeat the virus clinically. The second step was to circumvent the impact of the pandemic and carry on with business as usual. The trials and tribulations of brands and businesses to innovate, sometimes to the extent of reinventing, in order to stay afloat gave way to a set of clear directions to acquire consumers or warm up to their preferences.
At the peak of the pandemic, when brands scurried for the cover of digitization, the only belief that guided them was to stay connected with their consumers. After almost two years since their digital adoption, the same is no more about brand recall but about completing the customer journey through the marketing funnel. The New Year is set to optimize that journey with the focus on hyper-personalization — be it through AI-driven applications for better customer experience, through micro-influencers or vernacular content. As the world gets ready to go cookie-less, first-party data protection will become a priority for brands as they plan to invest heavily in first-party data and data management platforms. One can expect more mobile-led innovation — whether in brand building or live commerce.
As marketers continue to look for more personalized opportunities to engage and connect with consumers, the graph of digital spending by businesses and brands will continue to see an upward trending. In their pursuits, brand marketers may feel inclined to deploy more automation tools or programmatic and native advertising in 2022.
Those who believed that creativity and technology have nothing in common will stand corrected. We are likely to see deeper integration of technology and creativity in the year ahead. Unlike the great surge in resignations in 2021, the New Year will see a revival of sorts in terms of focus on nurturing talent and creativity.
The year 2022 will be defined as the age of creators and not just individual-led or influencer-led content, but brand-led content, too. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become an expression of creativity in the digital world of art, music, and sports. Brands, which stayed in the wait-and-watch mode last year, are expected to become more expressive in the NFT space in 2022 and go full throttle to woo potential customers, especially the Gen Z.
The New Year will also bring clarity in how META will blow the brand bugle.
All in all, personalization is going to rule the advertising and marketing world. It will be interesting to see how brands and marketers do the trick — whether they use technology or creative content — and succeed in winning over consumers in a world where to call it competitive is an understatement.