Where to next? Local perspectives on the future of marketing

Earlier this year, we asked industry insiders to share their thoughts on the challenges and changes facing marketing. Hear what they had to say and their solutions to some of the problems.

By StopPress Team | November 13, 2018 | news

What have we moved away from that we probably shouldn’t have? 

Annemarie Browne, chief marketing officer, Lotto NZ

The trouble with shiny new things is that we are all attracted to them, yet what we hear time and time again, is that as human beings the things that motivate and drive our behaviour are hard-wired into us. And so, the simple fact is that we love to share and engage in things together. Mainstream media delivers critical reach, viewability and engagement at a mass level and allows us to position our brands amongst New Zealand’s most loved characters and events. While new digital channels can help to extend that relationship, they have a long way to go before they replace it. Definitely worth a rethink!

What keeps you up at night?

Shane Evans, general manager of marketing, ASB

One of the major aspects of my role is deciding where to focus our resources so we can achieve the best outcomes for our customers. There’s a fine line between building future capability and delivering more immediate results, and we need both to be successful. Managing that balance is key. Aligning the internal business to our purpose is also something I spend a lot of time on, given the close ties we see between a brand’s purpose, and its ability to make, maintain, and strengthen emotional connections with customers through great storytelling. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is helping team members achieve their goals, be it work or at home, so finding new ways to do that takes a lot of thought! As well as thinking about work things, I have three small children and a dog that enjoys stalking the neighbour’s cat late at night. They don’t seem to like each other much. 

What technology is over-rated and what is under-rated?

Simon Hofmann, head of brand and marketing communications, Kiwibank

There is obviously mass proliferation of martech available and it continues to change every day. This makes for a pretty complex landscape for marketers to get a handle on – we’re up to 7,000 tools and counting. Much of the suitability and importance depends on the type of business you are and much of the new and emerging tech is overhyped.

I don’t think you can ever under-rate a rock-solid customer data platform – it’s such a critical enabler and huge competitive advantage.

There’s a heap of chatter about AI and I think we’re starting to see more practical applications as well as underpinning many other martech platforms and tools. We’re seeing some great returns from our investment in AI which utilises predictive analytics, machine-learning and natural language processing and is also helping scale our team.

From an over-rated perspective, I’m going to make a call on AR and VR. There’s some awesome applications but the scaled return is currently limited at this stage, however, it will change over time as the tech matures.

At the end of the day marketing technology is all built around good data and that can never be under-rated. 

What's the biggest industry change you have seen over your career?

Bridget Lamont, chief marketing officer, Loyalty New Zealand

Without a doubt the biggest change I have seen in the industry has to be the rise of data, data, data. The type of data we have access to; the tools we have available to us to organise, analyse and utilise that data; and the mechanisms that enable marketers to use data to give value back to customers, and to add value to their brands and businesses. None of these things were as readily available and as easily leveraged when I started out as a marketer.

The role that customer data plays in how we as marketers understand our customers – whether it is behavioural data collected through mechanisms such as loyalty programmes; or whether it is attitudinal and perception data from research sources – is enormously powerful and we have an obligation as modern marketers to use that data wisely and well! 

What will marketing teams look like in five years?

Julia Jack, chief marketing officer, Mercury

Marketing teams are increasingly moving from delivering ‘campaigns’ to delivering ‘experiences’ based around personalised, contextualised content and good old-fashioned powerful storytelling and this will continue. As data and innovation are the battlegrounds for differentiation, we will continue to see lines blurring between traditional technology and traditional marketing roles. In larger organisations, digital marketing will move from being a separate area of expertise to the core competency for all marketers with increasing focus on developing strong capability in AI, VR and AR. Dynamic utilisation of data will drive everything from on-going strategy evolution right through to responsive execution. 

If you could solve one problem, what would it be?

Karren Harker, head of marketing, Chorus New Zealand

I think we will see a renewed focus on purpose-led marketing based on the success of direct to consumer brands tapping into consumer beliefs and concerns. This means brands and companies will need to really zero in on what they stand for and demonstrate that relentlessly through all the things they do. When we look to the future it’s easy to reference the impact of data and automation, but ultimately we need to harness that data to influence human behaviour and build brand love. Really tapping into what drives that association with your brand over another remains as vital today as it was yesterday, and will be tomorrow.

What's changed the way you think about the industry in the last year?

Roy Ong, chief marketing officer, 2degrees

The way customers engage with a brand has evolved so much at a time when each telco’s products start to look homogeneous to its customers.

Like it or not, telco products and services are fast becoming a commodity – if they haven’t already – to the extent that it’s like buying milk at the supermarket. They are all the same, but which is cheaper today?

But telco differs from commoditised grocery items as the prices are continuing to decrease. In some countries in North America and Asia, the race to the bottom has unfortunately been achieved. And any sliver of product differentiation is happening in such a fast-paced market that competitors are matching or mimicking offers at pace.

So, it begs the question, how does one truly engage the hearts and minds (and gut) of Kiwis above and beyond data and price? Brand experience! Not customer experience, brand experience.

Google tells us the definition of brand experience is: “sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioural responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments.”

What that means is there must be a unique brand personality and attitude that must be adhered to consistently from day one. Successful brands have continued to grow because they have stayed true to their original brand DNA. These same successful brands argue that there is no need for a brand ‘evolution’ as this will only drive further brand homogeny.

Don’t get me wrong, brand creativity should evolve but brand purpose and experience must be upheld and should never change. Stop evolving brands! Brands were conceived for a reason and they were successful for a reason. 

This story was originally published in the 2018 Marketing issue of NZ Marketing. To subscribe, click here.

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