Lucky Thirteen: Marketing Trends for 2013
Written by: Robert Passikoff, Ph.D., founder and president, Brand Keys
The New Year, 2013, approaches. And as everyone knows, the number 13 holds great symbolism. For the religious among us there were the 13 guests at the Last Supper and the 13 tribes of Israel. Scientists know the Universe is governed by 13 fundamental constants of physics, and the relationship between the volume of the Earth and the Sun is 1310. For shoppers theres added value of 13 items comprising a bakers dozen. Anthropologists study the 13 skies of the Aztecs.
But for marketers and brand managers who want to look beyond the horizon, Brand Keys validated, predictive loyalty and engagement metrics have identified 13 critical trends for 2013:
1. The Expectation Economy
Over the past decade, customer expectations have increased on average by 28%. But brands in all categories overall have kept up by only 8%, which anyone at the checkout counter can tell you is an awfully big gap between what brands offer and what customers desire. Accurate measures of real, often hidden, expectations provide significant advantages to brands that understand their value and point to how to delight customers.
The consumers heightened awareness of their actual control, added to the commoditization of brands and products, equals a significant segment of consumers craving customized and personalized products and services (see success of Pinterest). Customization will become an even more important brand differentiator, with returns-on-investments of loyalty and profitability made-to-order for your brand.
3. (E)tail Everywhere
Along with consumer expectations, online retailing increases daily. But increases in brand equity, and usage among online retailers, will come with consumers desires to be constantly connected to these brands. Brands will have to watch for online retail pop-up stores, like Amazon, and physical kiosks for brands like Groupon, and think in terms of broader access.
4. Siri-ously Soon
Voice assistance or more accurately, voice assistants will become more the rule than the exception. Such applications will be designed and incorporated into more devices to meet consumers increasing expectations for immediate and customized support in all forms of outreach.
5. The Known and the Branded
Real brands will become rarer. Examples of brands that delight consumers have become the yardstick to evaluate all products and services. While we may still call them brands, consumers think of them as category placeholders: stuff that doesnt stand for anything. Understanding what will turn consumers into fans will provide a foundation for meaningful differentiation.
6. Story Telling Tales
Brands that seek differentiation and wish to establish emotional connections that produce consumer engagement will need to get better at storytelling. Understanding where the gaps exist between emotional aspects of the brands category ideal and how the brand is seen by consumers, can provide opportunities to identify unique stories, histories and tales that will differentiate, entertain, and engage.
7. Its Not Going to Get Any Easier Being Green
Producing, selling, and shopping based on environmentally green production and design, fair-trade and socially conscious consumption is on the rise. But given ease of consumer outreach and their ability to pull back the brand curtain, watch for significant increases in total sustainability and corporate responsibility in the consumers decision process.
8. Social Susceptibility
Watch for greater influences of engagement and purchase habits via friends and social networks. Brands will have to factor in the reality that peer-to-peer communications come in three varieties: good, bad, and bland. This makes companies more susceptible to consumer indifference, their conversations and social interactions. Already brands are watching the de-friending, or worse negative news or outright bad evaluations about the brand. The brands that make it here will know the "how" of this consumer-controlled space.
9. Mobile Screen Tests
Mobile devices will become mainstream testing retailers on those screens. Brands must prepare to accommodate this trend, as consumers will rely more upon screens to engage with brands and guide purchase decisions. Brands will need to create carefully targeted campaigns for this platform and provide screen-friendly promotional materials and retail sites.
10. App Savants
Consumers will take greater advantage of applications. But this year those typically small, specialized programs downloaded into mobile devices will move beyond games, GPS, and media, to more personalized applications that monitor, remind, suggest, learn, and know their users profiles and preferences. Brands will need to make greater use of such emotional and intimate connections.
11. Facebook Is a Given
With brand ubiquity on the largest social network, recognition will be the least of a brands concerns. The question is not, should I be on Facebook, but has now become what should I do on Facebook? Brands will have to graduate from posting pictures, collecting friends, and/or offering coupons. But doing so will depend on the category in which the brand competes and where social networks make themselves strategically felt in the category.
12. Saturation Leveling
Its no secret that there are more products and services using more platforms and outreach streams with the marketplace dangerously close to saturation with marketing messaging. But just because it's different, doesn't mean it's differentiating. Brands will have to plan and research engaging pre-launch activities if they wish to level the playing field and earn a high engagement-to-effort return on their investments.
13. Engagement Empowers
Non-engaged customers are a brand's most vulnerable assets. Period. Marketers need to engage all along the journey, from engaging platforms, programs, messages, or experiences. Brands must keep their eye on the prize when using any of these engagement methods, however. It's all about meeting the ultimate goal of increasing brand engagement.
By the way, the number 13 is also thought by some to be unlucky. And we agree, but only those brands that ignore these trends will face direct consequences to the success or failure of branding, engagement, and marketing efforts in 2013.
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”