As sure as you've gotten your fill of fruitcake, eggnog, and hideous holiday sweaters this season, a plethora of New Year's predictions great and small will make their march into the media in the coming weeks. So, not to be left out, here is my marketing communications forecast for 2014.
Look for more and more apps that solve everyday problems to emerge in the new year. Fitting all the apps you need, or think you need, onto your cell phone – from starting your car to pre-heating your oven – will be an ever-growing challenge. Consumers believe mobile services can increase satisfaction when it comes to day-to-day activities like shopping, dining, and leisure pursuits. Look for apps to become problem-solvers in the areas of child and elder care, emergency response, and traffic alerts.
Your Body Is a Wonderland
Password fatigue and confusion reign as consumers deplete their list of pet- and ex-inspired passwords. Technology will have the answer: in 2014, look for biometric alternatives to combat the password problem as fingerprints, retinal scans, and voice authentication come to the forefront.
Traditional narratives? The end
No longer is there a beginning, middle, and end to having your brand engage its audience – it's all about an ongoing story. Douglas Rushkoff, author of the book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, says the days of the narrative – the commercial that tries to keep you captive from start to finish – are over, replaced by a videogame-like, open-ended structure that keeps consumer engagement in the eternal present.
The local focal point
Thinking local will be a more effective means of targeting consumers in 2014. Why? Local media is transforming into the true source of news, making it hard for the larger news outlets to compete (think Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath).
Social media will increasingly affect how retailers stock their shelves. More retailers will use social media to gauge consumer interest about what's hot and to make decisions on purchasing, displays, and promotions.
The Millennials' year
Marketers will be more focused on market segmentation and move Millennials to the head of the class. Look for more purchasing power, as well as a rise in pop culture influence, from this generation. Also expect its members to emerge as a powerhouse in everything from politics to the C-Suite.
So let's hope my predictions don't end up off the mark like the British wireless inventor Sir William Preece's, who opined, “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” I predict a happy New Year for all!
Rich Goldblatt is SVP and director of consumer and the Better4You practice at M Booth.