Expert Insights

Marketing & Communications Trends for 2020: A New Wave of Opportunity

March 18, 2020

By Joshua Mathias

Technology is evolving at an exponential rate – that’s now a foregone conclusion. As we venture into the next decade, and deeper into the fourth industrial revolution, automation and personalization are key to engage and convert customers.

As Artificial Intelligence and data-driven marketing strategy and tactics will be at the forefront in 2020, organizations should not forget that humans are at the core of it all and that people, not technology, remain the key focus.

In the GCC region, according to the Consumer Sentiment Report by McKinsey & Company that surveyed 2,000 respondents, there have been five major behavior shifts in recent years:

  1. More cautious spending – In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, more than 40 per cent of survey respondents said they are cutting down on spending and paying closer attention to prices.
  2. Eroding brand loyalty – Around 15 per cent in the UAE and 17 per cent in Saudi Arabia of consumers said they were “trading down”, while trade-down rates three years ago were only about 10 per cent.
  3. Increase in online shopping – E-commerce is catching on with 62 per cent of UAE consumers citing convenience as the top factor for shifting to online shopping.
  4. Higher consideration for purchasing healthy food – More than 40 per cent of UAE respondents said other important considerations included being “low sugar”, “low fat” and “made with real sugar, not substitutes”.
  5. Growing demand for local goods – Millennials are showing that that they are almost 4 times more likely to distrust “big food companies”.

With this in mind, below are the six trends we should expect from organizations in the region, and across the world.

Client Retention, Loyalty, and Advocacy
In today’s market, it is imperative to focus efforts to retain client than attract new ones. Studies (such as this one by Bain & Co.) have shown that it costs five times as much to attract a new client than it does to keep one.

Loyal and happy clients significantly help to improve the reputation and awareness of an organization, as they will potentially be brand ambassadors to a relevant audience.

Customer Experience
As consumers, we are living in the era of Content on Demand. Gone are the days when we could broadcast the benefits of a product or service across selected media, trying to convince customers to buy something or work with your organization. The priority now is to focus on providing exceptional customer experiences (CX) that will get people to come back for more.

In its simplest form – when you focus on establishing a positive business culture and providing great service, the marketing and communications take care of themselves. The growth of engaging content across online and instant platforms Instagram, YouTube, Google, BIGO LIVE and more have given customers more power than ever before, and opened up the need for brands – and their communicators – to devise newer ways of getting their messages to a wider audience.

Employee Engagement
If we agree that the customer (not technology) is at the centre of a marketing and communications strategy, then the next step is to ensure that the first interaction – and every subsequent – with your organization is on point. A key statistic for organizations to consider is that, according to PwC, 46 per cent of consumers will abandon a brand if they feel that employees are not knowledgeable. Further, bad employee attitude is the leading factor that stops individuals from doing business with a company.

Employees are the human faces of the brand so if they are happy and taken care of, you can be certain that they will take care of your clients. Having a high level of employee engagement is not only the foundation of a good business environment, it is a business imperative!

People prefer visual content to plain text. The rise of image platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok and more serve as proof of this. Visual information is easier to retain than written content. In 2020 and beyond, organizations that are looking to make an impact for their bottom line will develop more visual content such as infographics and videos to make their content more interesting, attractive, and engaging.

Voice Search
At present, only around a fifth of all web searches are by voice, but this is only expected to rise as more people begin to adopt smart devices such as Google Home, Amazon Echo and interact with their smartphones via voice, according to data compiled by 99firms. PwC has found that around 61 per cent of people between the ages of 25 and 64 already use a voice-ready device, and plan to use it more in the future.

There are a number of exciting opportunities that voice search will bring. A great primer on what is possible is the “Branded Skills” campaign by Expedia, who have used this technology quite well, and opened a window into a future without the often-awkward typing and clicking.

What this means is that the time is now for organisations to prepare for this wave, and optimize their content for voice search. People using voice are not the ones that can be targeted by traditional SEO methods. They use longer, more conversational queries. Organizations and communicators need to invest time now in developing content relevant to those queries, with the ability to answer questions directly. In a voice search, there is no second page!

Live Video
Did you know that the live video industry is projected to be worth over USD 70 billion by 2021? In fact, people spend 3x longer watching live video than they do watching pre-recorded video. Video is easily the best way for people to learn about a topic, product, or service. And if the video is live, it makes the audience feel like they’re an active part of the discovery, and that they too have the potential to influence the content instead of passively watching it.

Live video builds on the premise of FOMO (fear of missing out), because it brings the ability to access a piece of information first, which can then be shared with a wider network.

There are a significant number of changes that are happening, the majority of which will create significant opportunities for brands and organizations to capitalize on. The year 2020 will certainly be an exciting one for marketing and communication professionals and teams.