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 Sunday, January 6, 2008




Happy 2008!  We hope your new year is off to a good start.  It seems that each time we start a new year the media—broadcast, pod-cast, you name it—offers many opportunities to do one of two things:  look back or look forward.  Not to be outdone, we thought our first Dispatches of 2008 would give us an opportunity to do the same—but differently.  Rather than feature marketing highlights from 2007 followed by some marketing predictions for 2008, we decided to generate a list of ten marketing trends that really got going in the recent past and that we’re pretty sure will continue to grow in importance in the months ahead.  What’s the source of the list?  Actually, it derives from a combination of what our clients are already exploring or doing to better build their brands and what we continue to see regularly featured in the mainstream marketing publications (for example, Brandweek, Advertising Age).


See how many of these trends you are already well familiar with (and maybe even leveraging with your own brands)—and feel free to let us know of any others you think should have made the list. 


BOATS & HELICOPTERS:  10 Big Marketing Trends


  1. Green - Wikipedia opens up with this to say about the trend called green marketing:  “According to the American Marketing Association green marketing is the marketing of products that are presumed to be environmentally safe.”  Of course, this simple statement begs other questions—like, what does “environmentally safe” really mean?  But even without a universal understanding of the definition of green marketing, there is no doubt that it has finally taken off.  While it was once confined to the realm of low-performance, all-electric cars or to paper-laden products seeking some “conscience” via minimal recyclable packaging (like Starbucks’ corrugated-paper coffee cup sleeves), green marketing has expanded with almost limitless applications (in product development, packaging reductions, cause-marketing, sponsorships, corporate PR) for virtually every brand.  As with all marketing efforts aimed at making a brand look more “responsible,” however, the big watch-out for any would-be green moves is this:  they must be legitimate, of some real consequence (such as the Philips Marathon 60-watt light bulb, which consumes only 13 watts of energy but delivers 60 watts worth of light—and saves 75% on the lighting bill).


  1. Rich Media - There are some in marketing who would say that, if you are unfamiliar with this trend (or worse yet, if you think it simply means running your brand’s TV ads on your website), you should switch to finance.  Those who might say something like this are, naturally, well-versed in internet-based marketing—more than likely, they are doing marketing outside of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods.  But their smugness aside, they make a good point: rich media refers to a broad range of digital interactive media that typically exhibits dynamic motion (such as video-streaming, or a “ticker-tape”)…and has therefore many more applications for a brand and its website than running a produced-for-television commercial.  The real question for FMCG marketers is this, “What innovative rich media can your brand incorporate into its web “venue” that will make target consumers actually want to get more involved with the total brand experience?”


  1. China - Sure, most of the press here in the US lately has been pretty negative when it comes to China.  After all, their liberal use of lead paint in exported toys (and who knows what else) has taken the “Made in China” tag to a new low.  But there are counterbalancing events in and from the world’s largest population over the next year that will make China—and brands Chinese—hot.  Of course, there is the obvious event, the Beijing Olympics; this alone ensures that China and its rich culture will become very top-of-mind and intriguing.  But there are also many new Chinese brands that will soon be showing up in the US and other western countries:  Lenovo Computers, NetEase (the #1 on-line game operator in China), Haier Appliances, Changyu Wines, and Bank of China).  Being associated in some way with the new China “cultural revolution” could be a real plus.


  1. Behavioral Targeting - No doubt, this trend ranks as the most controversial one on our list.  It refers to the growing desire among many internet-involved marketers to track their potential target customers’ behaviors (such as URL’s they have visited or searches they have conducted) and thereby better customize messaging to those customers.  Because each of us now leaves such a detailed “digital trail” in our daily on-line communications and actions, it is so very tempting for companies to capture and process it all.  But, then, there is the converse trend to this one:  privacy, privacy, privacy!  Brands seriously thinking about pursuing any behavioral targeting absolutely must balance the potential downsides of lost trust due to inappropriate (or illegal!) privacy invasions.


  1. Retail Playgrounds - It’s hard to say which brand first turned a retail store into a “playground” (mostly for adults), but if you’ve spent any time in an Apple store lately, you can sure see which brand is making the most of it.  Are shoppers there really looking to purchase something or have they simply found a more intelligent alternative to the mall arcade?  Whatever their reasons for spending time at Apple (or at Starbucks, or at Abercrombie, or at Under Armour), they share one thing in common:  they’re all interacting with and building a relationship with a brand. 


  1. Point-of-Almost-Purchase - Closely related to the above, but more easily implemented than a full-blown “store” (especially for fast-moving consumer brands), this is yet another experiential marketing trend.  Actually, it has been around for some time, but is now being used by more and more brands.  Imagine a Best Buy electronics store parking lot.  Customers arrive on a Saturday morning looking to check out the HD televisions.  Conspicuously parked in the same parking lot, however, is a souped-up Sony mega-van that beckons customers to first stop in and “experience” the world of Sony.  This is a retail venue that many brands might actually be able to reasonably afford—and it sure improves the odds of getting your brand chosen just when the customer is ready to buy.


  1. Authenticity - You might ask, “Hasn’t this always been a trend?”  In other words, hasn’t it always been really important to customers that their chosen brand have some honest-to-goodness genuineness…that its ingredients or components come from “name” places or suppliers?  Well, sure, you could argue that authenticity is always “in”; but sometimes it’s even more “in” than others.  Because we do have so much information available to us now, and more and more people are doing their own searches on all subjects, it seems that being real, being authentic is more than simply a cost-of-entry.  That’s why when you hear that Anheuser-Busch has just decided to re-position its formerly mainstream Michelob Brand as a “hand-crafted, microbrew” type of beer, you have scratch your head and wonder whether it ever makes good sense to buck an important trend.


  1. Social Media - We could have labeled this trend in a number of ways, such as “Communities Marketing,” or “Social Networking,” but the word “Media” is a critical one, so we chose to go with “Social Media.”  The point is that the explosion of personal networks on the internet has forever changed marketers’ traditional understanding of “media.”  In fact, so powerful are these networks or communities that there are now on-going tracking tools to measure the “share of voice rankings” among brands in the web 2.0 marketplace.  Every brand that aims to remain competitive in its market must find ways to leverage what consumers are saying and sharing with others about their products.


  1. MX - Or, Marketing Excellence.  We have actually referred to this trend in some recent Dispatches.  It refers to a marketing organization’s conscious efforts to upgrade all their marketing activities—as a way to gain a competitive advantage over other marketers in the same industry.  Although the concept has been around for several years now, it remains topical and a recipient of considerable investment (typically in training) among many emerging marketing companies.  The most successful of these find ways to simultaneously implement the training processes and principles…to measure their results (in saving time, saving money, and most importantly, driving brand growth).


  1. Anti-Aging - We saved this one for last because, well, it’s one we also have some personal experience with and vested interest in!  But joking aside, this is one consumer-need trend that not only has direct ties to an enormous target audience (yes, the ever-present baby boomers), but also has application to product and service categories well beyond skincare.  The trend to slow down, stop, or somehow control aging potentially involves virtually everything we consume and participate in, and the “anti” part affects virtually all parts of our bodies too (teeth, hair, muscles, organs, etc.).  So, no matter what product category, drug class, or customer service your brand falls into, there’s probably an anti-aging angle you can leverage for growth.


Again, Happy New Year!


Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney

Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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