Rather than life getting simpler, it's really becoming more complicated and people seem to be getting older younger and then younger older! Looking back, it's simple to see why trend predictions are often off track or, worse, grossly misleading.
We've seen huge upheavals in all areas of life, business, culture, sport, economy and obviously in media. It seems we're surrounded by contractions such as the world getting smaller and us wanting more out of it. As much as we'd like to believe that change is evolutionary, if we stop and take a moment to look around, today's reality suggests that the perception of evolution is really driven by consistent revolution!
Time, the scarcest commodity: we live in an era where time is becoming and will continue to be the scarcest commodity and, as such, communication and media platforms that do not provide value and relevance will simply be ignored. Consumers have learnt to multitask in order to obtain more - more information, more entertainment, more reward and more stimulation. It's not uncommon to see the youth 'texting' while listening to the radio/iPod, watching television or even having a conversation.
Instant reward/recognition/results - and absolute transparency: consumers, marketers and advertisers will want everything now! Change will be rapid and trends will be more influenced by where we're going rather than where we've come from. Research will need to be both flexible and frequent, focusing on facts.
As media professionals, we're all investing in understanding the future and, as I read somewhere, 'the genius of investing is recognising the direction of a trend and not just catching the highs and lows'. In the years ahead we will have both extremes.
Mass to me to we (social networking and content is king): Mass media have since the beginning of time relied on their ability to reach large numbers of potential consumers with a single message. The bigger the coverage the more powerful the medium, the more income generated. Shifting consumer needs, new technology and fierce competition are forcing mass media to deliver to the individual. Television is particularly affected by this trend as we hve seen the movement from terrestrial to satellite to VOD to IPTV gaining momentum.
Living out of home rather than at home: people are spending more time out of home than ever before. The mobility of media and out of home media will grow in relevance as at home media consumption of all media declines.
Primetime is my time: technological advances will allow consumers to define what and when they want to watch. While PVR technology has so far been limited to affluent market segments, the potential of memory storage capacity in the soon-to-be-released digital to analogue decoders for the mass market cannot be understated. Several television sets currently offer this feature as a standard. The ability to delay view will, if made available in the analogue decoders, make primetime my time.
Exposure to engagement (permission-based marketing): exposing the message to the correct people at the correct time is no longer enough as people these days simply tune out clutter. Motivating response requires the target consumer to respond and engage with the communication in some way. This increases the responsibility of both the creative and media professional to leverage the media platform in a way that offers engagement. Once engagement has been achieved, permission-based marking initiatives can follow with instant gratification/reward being a key consumer incentive.
Prosumers rather than consumers - the power of one: gone are the days where marketers dictate product personality and character. With growing connectivity within reach of many consumers around the world, we are seeing consumers playing a greater role in defining product positioning and appeal. A few years ago one consumer could only influence their immediate family, friends and colleagues. Today that same consumer can reach millions of people through numerous digital platforms. Their experience with the brand (both positive and negative) can spread rapidly. The marketing community has picked up on this and in an effort to tap into this trend has explored the viral benefits of CGM (consumer-generated messaging) initiatives.
Growing relevance of DR theory: media fragmentation and the growing ability for consumers to avoid advertising/promotional messaging means that continuity is a key success factor. Cost of customer/relationship acquisition will become a hot topic in measuring the effectiveness of campaigns and will drive advertising rates. Already some advertisers have formulated rate cards based on fixed customer acquisition costs.
Globalisation (brands without borders): the world will truly continue to become the consumer's 'corner café' and most brands are either global citizens or defined by global citizens. The marketing challenge to think global but act local has never been more important or as complicated. Where contradictions in brand personality/positioning exist between markets, the disconnect will create consumer confusion.
Liquid content (info/entertainment access on multiple platforms): content without borders! With the advent of the mobile age consumers want access to information or entertainment on whatever mobile devise they have. Already we see that cellular phones have become calculators, diaries, radios, televisions and game consoles.
Media platforms are experimenting with this concept and several print groups are already shifting focus to becoming digital multi-facetted entities with brands on several platforms. It's becoming hard to define even the media platforms. What for example is a newspaper and what makes it different from a magazine? And what is television, a screen in the lounge, my computer in the office or an electronic billboard? I guess the real question is, "Does it matter?"
With over 25 years experience in the media industry, Gordon Patterson is MD of Starcom and an active and outspoken media professional well-known for his passion for insight/strategy and creativity. He is currently deputy president of the ABC and a past chairman and active member of the Advertising Media Forum (AMF). Contact him on tel +27 (0)11 235 4159 or email him on .
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