New Year, New Trends

by Jennifer Williams

A look ahead at 2019’s hottest marketing trends

A new year is both an opportunity for reflection and growth — and that holds true in the marketing world. Reflections and revisions lead marketers to explore exciting directions come the new year. At redpepper, we believe wholeheartedly that it’s better to anticipate these trends rather than try to play catch up once they’ve already become the next big thing. So we took some time to rattle our brains, gaze into our internal crystal balls, and make some predictions for the top marketing trends of 2019. Here are the top 10 to look out for:

1. Innovation budgets will Increase

Marketers are starting to understand that if they want to stay ahead of the competition, innovation isn’t a “nice to have”; it’s a must. According to Gartner, 63% of CEOs expect their innovation budgets to increase in 2019, with ⅙ of marketing budgets to be allocated to innovation. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, companies may be betting on innovation to ensure they own a part of the changing landscape, because if they wait and see what others invent and then try to take part in it, it may be too late.

Some companies find it helpful to pursue innovation ideation outside of their corporate walls for the best results. We’ve helped companies like Verizon and Mars Petcare jumpstart inventive thinking around a business goal with our innovation services. It all comes down to one of our core values — which we think should be a core value for every successful company — “If we’re not changing, we’re dying.”

2. Tech Companies Shifting Dollars From Lead-gen to Brand Awareness

In the past, tech companies have focused their marketing dollars on generating leads. But as industries become more saturated and differentiation becomes harder, marketers are realizing that demand will increase through memorability and personal connections. While it’s nice to tell customers what your products do, it’s more fruitful to focus on how your brand makes them feel — and in 2019 we’re sure to see more verticals catching on.

3. Shift to More Consultancy-type Relationships with Agencies

According to Brian Whipple, senior managing director of Accenture Interactive, brands are no longer built from advertising, but from “an amalgamation of customer experiences.” Big consultancies have taken on this task, absorbing what has traditionally fallen on marketing agencies. However, AdAge reckons (and we agree) that marketing agencies are rethinking their role as a partner and going a step further to offer more consultancy-type relationships with their clients — meshing inherent creativity with one-stop shopping.

In today’s fast-changing landscape, marketers need a partner to help make sense of their data, myriad communication platform choices, how to best align marketing objectives with business challenges and more. Through our extensive knowledge and use of brand archetyping, along with our customized workshop strategy, we’re able to be nimble on behalf of our clients and build an ongoing rhythm of reviewing and optimization to provide them the best outside perspective to help them achieve their goals.

4. AI Everything

With the virtual world expanding at the speed of virtual light, we expect to see AI become more integrated into marketing efforts. It’s now easier than ever to use (er…train) AI, and we think 2019 will be the year that it starts peeking its head into companies’ advertising efforts. Think: personalized ads. Everywhere.

In anticipation for this one, we’ve been continuing to tinker, play, and learn about all that AI can do. First, we taught it how to find Waldo. Then, we fed it some Halloween masks and spooked ourselves. And just last month, we spread some holiday charity using Amazon’s Comprehend AI.

5. The Evolution of Search

Just when you think you’ve mastered keyword search, technology throws a curveball. Sources like Inc. point to the rise of voice search in 2019. While it seems like it’d be a seamless transition, it’s important to keep in mind that the way people speak is much different than the way they type. This trend is going to involve marketers putting themselves deep in the minds of their consumers at the moment of search.

6. More Brands will Take a Stand

Levi’s did it (and generated enormous buzz.) Nike did it (and has made an estimated $6 million dollars directly because of it). In the past, brands have opted out of taking a stand on controversial issues for fear of offending and losing loyalty from the opposing side of a polarizing argument. However, brands can no longer afford ambiguity. According to Marketing Week, 57% of UK consumers dub themselves “belief-driven buyers”. We touched on the importance of emotion earlier, and when it comes to taking a stand, voicing your beliefs will lead to stronger loyalty from those who identify with your brand. Added bonus: it just feels good.

For more on this, our Creative Strategist assessed Nike’s controversial Colin Kaepernick ad — a Grade A example of speaking up while staying on brand. Give it a read here.

[UPDATE Jan.16: Gillette has now joined in on this trend! Read our take here.]

7. Influencer Marketing will Maintain Momentum

Influencers are everywhere. They’re doing try-on hauls. They’re having us swipe up for cool, new products. They’re reviewing restaurants, stores, cars, sweaters, supplements and more. And their influence is here to stay. The fact is, people trust people (over no-face brands). However, the more authentic, the better — we see the influencer trend continuing to move away from celebrity endorsements and more toward relatable people partnering with brands.

8. Micro-moments will Drive Sales

As people and brands become even more digitally connected, it’s important to get your message across — fast. Customers’ days are filled with about 150 micro-moments in which they make split-second decisions. According to Inc., one of the best ways to make your message a catalyst for a buying decision is with quick, to-the-point content, like a short video, so you can make the most out of a split-second interaction.

9. Video will Be an Important Player in Marketing Strategies

Speaking of video. 72% of businesses now say that video has improved their conversion rate. And with the rise of video innovations such as AR, VR, 360 degree, and live streaming, we think that number will increase in 2019. As we mentioned, with only a few seconds to drive a message home, video will be a must — serving as an anchor for the micro-moment movement.

We helped multiple clients achieve their video goals in 2018 — whether that include a 64-foot-set and 17 painted laptops with Slack, to improv actors and a robotic arm for OutSystems. We’ve become fast-friends with video, and we’re ready to navigate its applications in 2019.

10. But We Can’t Forget About Audio.

News, industry insights, murder mysteries. Podcasts are the new pastime, and where there’s air time there’s ad time. Element Media Direct has estimated an 80% increase in podcast ad revenue from 2017–2018, with another estimated 50% increase in 2019. As this medium continues to grow its audience, more advertising dollars will be spent supporting it.

That’s it for our marketing magic 8-ball predictions! What’d we miss that you’d add to the list? We’re excited to observe, tackle, and reflect on these trends over the next year.

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