What marketers want the industry to start, stop and change in the new year

From the C-Suite newsletter: Brand leaders make predictions and resolutions for their peers to commit to.

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Pictured, clockwise from far left: Andrea Hunt, EVP, CMO, Arterra Wines; Jeremy Oxley, VP, marketing, ecommerce, Danone; Andrea Danovitch, AVP, marketing brand, Interac; Lori Davison, chief marketing, communications officer, ROM; Laura Curtis Ferrera, global CMO, Scotiabank; and Bob Park, CBO, GE Appliances.

Ringing in the New Year would not be the same without a predictions/resolutions article that attempts to rally an industry to make this year better than the last (two). So strategy gathered a half dozen marketing experts to do the honours, sharing with us their best bets and intentions for 2022.

Predictions

If you could bet on the next big opportunity for marketers in 2022 – what would it be?

GE’s Bob Park: I think the word to describe the new world order in marketing in 2022 will be “hybrid.” Some trends, such as the huge focus on digital experiences or the massive migration to online purchasing will carry forward from 2021. I also predict a resurgence in experiential marketing. As the country completely reopens, I believe consumers will have an insatiable appetite to get out and interact. Marketers should make flexible plans now so they are able to take advantage as restrictions loosen.

Danone’s Jeremy Oxley: 2022 will continue to see consumers further strengthen their attachment to more authentic brands and those with purpose. Consumers will vote with their dollars for brands that exist beyond just earning profits but who share their values for a more positive impact on the world – socially and environmentally.

Arterra’s Andrea Hunt: First-party data. It’s not new but it is more valuable than ever given the evolving new realities of the digital domain. Deep consumer understanding is our most powerful tool and is what ultimately allows us to move beyond the transactional to exploit the full possibilities of partnership for mutual benefit.

The ROM’s Lori Davison: Above all, marketers should recognize that we are in a liminal time. In parallel with many profound societal, environmental and cultural shifts going on – the how, why and what consumers consume is also shifting dramatically. The opportunity for 2022 is to re-examine the insights we currently leverage to propel our brands. Are those insights still the most relevant? Has a new path opened up? 

Interac’s Andrea Danovitch: This one is a bit of a challenge but also a big opportunity: targeting in a privacy-first world.  Everyone has been talking about the impending depreciation of third-party cookies, which is forcing our hand – in a positive way – to sharpen our targeting efforts and leverage new tools. Many brands are now leaning into HVA (high value audience targeting) which is proving to be more effective than some traditional methods of targeting to generate purchase intent. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about this in 2022.

Scotiabank’s Laura Curtis Ferrera: As consumers place increasing importance on global brand values, I expect to see organizations held to a higher standard of accountability. As a result, we will see global brands further invest in the twin goals of being a Force for Growth and a Force for Good. For Force for Growth, I expect to see increased focus on data integration initiatives, increased customer personalization efforts, and greater multi-touch attribution measurement as tools to drive revenue. For Force for Good, I expect brands to prioritize sustainability efforts, brand purpose, brand and consumer safety, and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) initiatives to capture long-term loyalty and trust.

Resolutions

What’s one thing you hope the industry plans to start doing, one thing it needs to stop, and one thing you hope it changes in 2022?

The ROM’s Lori Davison

I hope the industry starts earnestly attracting more women and BIPOC for creative leadership roles; the industry needs to stop wasteful packaging wherever we are empowered; and the one thing I hope the industry changes in 2022 is our collective mood – I hope we see a lot of marketing ideas that deliver joy and laughter.

Arterra Wine’s Andrea Hunt

Start: Marketing is nothing without the creativity and razor sharp commercial vision of great teams. In 2022, I’d love the industry to vocally champion the opportunities of marketing and advertising for smart, creative people. With an exponential pool of employment options, the war for talent is voracious. The pandemic has dampened some of the buzz and energy historically associated with marketing, and it’s felt acutely when ideas ricochet around an office. We need to find a way to tweak the interest of new grads and keep the brightest talent engaged and ideas fresh. We need to bring the best of what has historically defined the industry back in a way that fits with our time.

Stop: The industry would be wise to resist the urge to urgently lean into the next big “it trend.” Much is celebrated about NFT’s, AI, and enticing new ad tech capabilities – their application in recent marketing campaigns is pervasive. As exciting and powerful as they are, tech-led innovations can fall short if insufficient effort is directed to sweating the strategic fundamentals in favour of activating quickly in a new space. The business will be best served only if employed against a solid strategy and distinctive brand idea – otherwise it’s new, but not great.

Change: As an industry, I’d like to find a way to work collectively to get to a more decisive and convincing validation of marketing’s ROI on driving both short and long term equity valuation. Aspects of our discipline, notably performance marketing, has been masterful at offering quantified results that appease CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs alike. Equity led marketing, despite laudable attempts, has failed to offer irrefutable evidence of measurable ROI. If we could redirect the millions spent on defending and proving the worth of our efforts to fuelling the equities we seek to build… it would be game-changing for advertisers and businesses alike.

GE’s Bob Park

I hope the industry continues this wonderful movement of promoting diversity in all facets. At the same time I believe promoting diversity as the “flavour of the day” is a tactic that is easily recognized by consumers and I hope we stop. I’d like to see more meaningful and genuine changes to how we integrate diversity in our marketing organizations and initiatives for 2022.

Danone’s Jeremy Oxley

Start: Embedding ROI in all our marketing decisions will be increasingly important. In this environment it is even more critical to show the organization the return we make from marketing – every dollar should be tied to a consumer action (both short-term and/or long-term), and that action translated back to sales and profit. Zero-Based Budgeting is an excellent mindset for all marketers to have to prioritize and justify spending against organizational strategies and goals. Also: start spending more time on short-form content, influencers and brand partnerships. Consumers are navigating content at a much faster pace than ever before. We need to think about how to marry brand stories with content creators across their relevant platforms in a simple way.

Stop: Being so internally focused. Immerse ourselves externally to see our brand through the eyes of the consumer. What do they see, think and feel about your brand, and importantly how does that compare to our competitors? Be clear about what it really takes to win in the market across the full marketing mix and build plans off of that in-market reality. Also: stop making it hard for agencies to do great work. Be really clear on “the one thing” we need a consumer to take away from a piece of content and then get out of the way and let our agencies be creative around it. Remember, you have a communication ecosystem to get your different messages across, each individual piece doesn’t have to say them all.

Change: While we have definitely made progress in this area over the past two years, I hope to see much more diversity in our industry in 2022, not just in front of the camera in our advertising content, but also within our teams, agencies and production partners.

Interac’s Andrea Danovitch

Start: Focusing more on purpose-driven marketing. The world has gone through a lot over the past two years since the onset of the pandemic and other events that have shone the spotlight on equity and diversity. I think it will continue to be important to consumers and employees alike to hear and see from brands, in an authentic manner, how they are using their platform and funding to promote corporate citizenship.

Stop: Just stop. Take a breath. Listen, learn and be sensitive to what the market needs and wants to hear from brands. We’re currently living in a world where things can change on a dime. Planning is good but we must be nimble and recognize that best laid marketing plans can and must go by the wayside as the recovery environment continues to ebb and flow. What’s relevant today as we develop future marketing campaigns might no longer be three months from now when the campaign goes into market.

Changes: Revisit your media mix. Allocating more to one’s digital spend is a smart move for a variety of reasons, including the ability to be nimbler. There’s often less lead time for creative assets, which allow for more relevant messaging depending on the current culture and environment. There can be more efficiency in your targeting and measurement efforts. And it’s where are audiences are (which isn’t to say that they are no longer watching TV). Expand your notion of digital and TV to include OTT platforms.