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10 Marketing Trends for 2013 You Haven’t Heard

What would you find in a wordcloud of 2013 marketing/consumer trend lists?

Big data. Cloud. Mobile. Trust. Direct delivery. Quantified self. Crowdfunding.

It’s tiresome, isn’t it? Rather than the usual list, here are 10 trends drawn from our unique vantage point sitting at the center of a gigantic network of marketing leaders. I’m betting 4 or 5 of them will be ones you hadn’t internalized.

Proverbial digital dog will catch car: digital marketing teams from companies in mainstream categories (ice cream, motor oil, banking) are getting big increases in their 2013 resources—we’re talking chunks, as in double the budget, double the headcount. The digital dog has caught the car! Those same digital dogs will now wonder how to show the CMO (and CFO!) that they’re spending those 2013 dollars wisely. Because cross-channel digital metrics are a complete mess. File under: “careful what you wish for”.

Digital dog will discover that it in fact caught a buffalo, not a car: based on recent studies we’ve seen using newly available analytic tools that validate digital campaign effectiveness, digital marketers (and their paymasters who just boosted their budgets) will realize there’s an enormous amount of “leakage” in digital executions. Digital doesn’t deliver the reach and coverage with low waste that it’s been promising. And when you look at the numbers on the percentage of paid digital impressions that are actually viewable, it gets even worse. This isn’t a car we just caught. It’s a buffalo. Still gets you from point A to point B, but boy, is it a different kind of ride.

Countless, limp branded social efforts will be abandoned, countless more will be launched: Many brands and products don’t need a Facebook page, YouTube channel or LinkedIn group. Here’s an idea for a Pinterest board—brand social executions that have become lifeless zombies.

Marketing silo walls will come tumblin’ down (in favor of new walls): when it comes to digital integration, a goodly number of large enterprise marketing leaders will realize they can’t process their way out of a structure problem. So, they’ll make real changes to org structure, blowing up old silos (TV, events, direct, PR) to replace with new structures (paid, earned, owned) that mix digital and non-digital tactics into people roles based on how the tactics behave (e.g., if it’s bought in a marketplace, like TV or display), not on what category they fit into (e.g., TV, events, digital).

Marketing and IT will jointly discover they are missing the boat because they were bickering in customs: IT is good at process, reliability and security. Marketing is good at following consumers, moving quickly and catching attention. Neither is good at looking down the road and, from a consumer point-of-view, creating a marketing technology roadmap that is outward looking. Having discovered this, some organizations will correct for it (by hiring a marketing technologist or somehow creating the underlying capability). Most will continue bickering.

Content marketing will experience a sophomore year slump: content marketing sure has been the rage, hasn’t it? In the first adoptions wave, we’ve seen marketing teams that have the energy, savvy, resources and mandate to really do content marketing right (at least some of them). The wave of 2013 adopters will mostly include the content marketing “bandwagoners”, who lack at least one of those four things (energy, savvy, resources, mandate). Result? The shine will come off content marketing in some circles. Not because it inherently lacks merit, but because there will be execution problems (see trend 3).

Human inertia will pour cold water on 80% of consumer trends you read on other trend lists: I love Mary Meeker’s annual Internet trends report, don’t you? In this year’s report, she presents a series of “asset light” consumer trends that will shape commerce. Problem is, many of these trends rely on consumers changing long-engrained routines. While Ms. Meeker has the good sense not to put a timeline on these, most other “2013” trend lists don’t. And for that reason, we’ll look up next December and realize 2013 wasn’t the Year of Direct Delivery (unless you’re a hipster living in New York or San Francisco) or the Year of Roomsharing (love AirBnB, but come on, most consumers who travel are too used to just getting a hotel room to take a risk sleeping on a stranger’s couch). Human inertia simply prevents most of these trends from going mainstream anytime soon. Which kind of relegates a “trend” to a smoke signal that something maybe, could be taking hold out there with a niche segment.

Simple. Experiences. Win. It’s a really noisy environment, and consumers feel like they are leading really complicated lives. Most of the winning brands of 2013 will have simplified customers’ lives, and will have done so in transparent, simple ways. If this feels right in your gut, read more about it in HBR or Forbes. And then recast your engagement-focused marketing to treat consumer attention as a precious thing to be handled with great care and attention.

Marketing leaders will realize marketer “agility” is part table stakes, part harmful! Grit and focus are the winning marketer qualities: 78% of marketing leaders believe that, in a fast-moving world, their marketers need to be similarly fast-moving, agile and adaptive. Our research found that the most predictive trait of high performing marketers is grit—the ability to doggedly pursue higher-order goals in the face of distractions and hardship. Yes, we did do exhaustive research on this. CEB Marketing members can find it here.

Trend lists numbering “10” will fall out of fashion. I don’t think I need to explain.

What do you see on the horizon in the coming year? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

2 Responses

  • Carol Barnes says:

    Three things you mention, as a combination will be extremely powerful:
    Forecasting need (seeing down the road), matching need (simplifying complicated lives) to offer, identifying where people will ‘bump into’ the offer. I.e. what are people’s habits and where do they already look – advertise there and it will be marketing dollars well spent.
    But once these three vital things are simplified to this level, well then we all realise the problem and the solution remain the same as they always were. No new wisdom, just the same old requirement to know the need and meet it, right place, right time and there have always been people who are better at that than others. High flying marketers have always been able to catch early adopters. Most people aren’t early adopters which should mean there are plenty of pickings left for marketers with some savvy, if not cutting edge savvy. There is no magic answer, it’s all just so much hard work, but clever thinking comes from reflection and that takes time, which is generally a thing most people won’t pay for unless they can visualise results. So a fourth thing a clever marketer needs to be able to do is describe and define so others who are vision-poor can be made to see.

  • I like this article a lot… fads are out, reliable measurement of online roi is of course unreliable as we always suspected. Simple is the new ‘simple’ and do I detect that some of the shine is really starting to come off online marketing? It should be… Many small to medium sized businesses have poured countless £££’s into this blackhole (websites, more websites, SE0, PPC, etc) over the past decade and for exactly what sort of returns???? 2013 will be back to Direct Response Marketing campaigns, good old brochures and getting out and about to talk to real people ‘face to face’… common sense prevails… until the latest, shiny, gizmo, gadget gets pushed onto all of us as the next greatest marketing thingy since whatsit… My advice for 2013 is read some David Ogilvy mix it with some Dan Kennedy, add some Design Thinking and voila… you might just have a recipe worth serving up

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