The last 18 months forever redefined customer engagement strategies for brands and led to unprecedented challenges internally and externally for organizations as they grappled with a complex environment. By conducting research among C-suite executives and consumers around the globe, Deloitte gathered data and insights that uncovered the ways that brand leaders are holistically rethinking their approach to customer engagement and experience in order to remain competitive.
Grounded in in-depth research, this year’s “Global Marketing Trends Report” pinpoints seven trends unfolding in the marketing function, uncovers how high-growth brands across the business landscape are leading the way, and arms executives with fresh insights to help navigate the path forward.
“We’ve taken a comprehensive look at the future of the marketing function following a year and a half of some of the greatest challenges and changes to the business landscape most organizations have ever faced,” said Jennifer Veenstra, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP and executive leader of Deloitte’s Global CMO program.
“By studying the strategies of high-growth brands, we’ve uncovered insights that can equip business and marketing leaders with a roadmap for using marketing as a force for creating exceptional customer experiences and delivering growth for their organizations.”
- High-growth brands, defined as those with 10% or higher annual growth, that commit to an integrated purpose that mirrors stakeholder needs are gaining a competitive advantage. A holistic approach to purpose, one that is more equitable and inclusive across all stakeholders, requires brands to put a premium on accountability and establish key performance metrics anchored around their purpose.
- It’s not enough to market inclusiveness or diversity as 57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to actionably addressing social inequities. The contours of our society are changing, and marketers should champion diversity, equity and inclusion to underpin their brand messaging with authenticity.
- With a mix of physical and digital experiences becoming the norm, 75% of global executives plan to invest more in delivering hybrid experiences over the next year. The best place for leaders to start is with human-centered design, which can marry the best of physical and digital while giving consumers greater choices.
- When we polled over 550 global CMOs, analytical experience was identified more often than creative expertise as a leading skill of their highest performing direct report. Historically pegged as a field for creatives, the rise in big data and AI has changed the demands of the marketing profession, and leaders now need to find the right talent structure for their unique objectives.
- With the sunset of third-party cookies, it’s no surprise that high-growth brands are taking the lead in the shift to a first-party environment. Marketing executives could benefit from investing in first-party data strategies, designing human-centric experiences, and forming deep relationships with ecosystem partners to gain access to walled gardens of data and corresponding insights.
What does this mean for C-suite decision-making?
We live in a world where people continuously toggle between digital and physical channels, making linear customer journeys almost a relic of the past. Consumers have also become more guarded in how their data is captured and deployed, but still expect a personalized and tailored journey that keeps both convenience and the purpose of the brand at the forefront. This changing landscape has led marketing teams and organizations to rethink the mix of talent they need in order to deliver on the new expectations of consumers. The report was developed using feedback gathered from global executives and consumers in order to arm C-suite executives — from CMOs to CEOs — with the information they need to cultivate dynamic customer experiences. By moving beyond point solutions to a 360-view that cohesively integrates people, data and experiences, leaders can utilize marketing as a powerful force for growth that fosters trust and meets human needs.
Purpose — a beacon for growth
Many businesses are redefining their value proposition and how they make an impact beyond profit through “purpose,” but getting this right and resonating with consumers who debate which brands to choose is no small task. According to Deloitte’s 2022 “Global Marketing Trends Consumer Survey,” when asking people why they chose to purchase from a specific brand across eight different categories, price and quality were individually cited as top-three purchasing criteria anywhere between 61% and 86% of the time. Because all brands need to deliver on these two dimensions, other criteria, including purpose-related factors, then become competitive differentiators. There is also evidence that brands that commit to purpose are gaining a critical competitive advantage, as Deloitte’s “Global Marketing Trends Executive Survey” found that high-growth brands are translating purpose into action in markedly different ways from their lower-growth peers by looking at purpose more holistically. For those high-growth brands, purpose not only inspires product and service delivery, but also guides employee decision-making and corporate social responsibility investment strategy.
Authentically inclusive marketing
As the consumer population diversifies — by race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, or differences in ability, for example — it’s imperative for brands to authentically reflect a range of backgrounds and experiences within their messaging, advertising and brand campaigns if they expect to effectively connect with future customers. But it’s not enough to just market inclusiveness or diversity. Results from Deloitte’s “Global Marketing Trends Consumer Survey” show 57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to actionably addressing social inequities and consumers want to support brands that represent them and their values. Further, our data tells us that high-growth brands are more frequently establishing key performance metrics for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) objectives than their lower-growth competitors. Simultaneously, the highest-growing brands are reducing the cultural and demographic distance between the makeup of their teams and the markets they aspire to reach.
Building the intelligent creative engine
Marketing was once pegged as a field for creatives, but in today’s data-intensive environment, we already see organizations gravitating toward hiring talent with more analytical skills as well. When we surveyed 556 global chief marketing officers (CMOs) in Deloitte’s “Global Marketing Trends Executive Survey” and asked them to identify the top skills of their highest performers, analytical expertise edged out creative skills in almost every industry, except for the consumer industry. However, this isn’t a one-to-one swap of creative skills for analytical and technical skills, it’s about CMOs building greater collaboration on teams, both internally and externally. This is especially important in hybrid work environments, where marketers see both opportunities and challenges in making the digital-physical construct of work successful. For the CMO, it’s less about organizational redesigns and more about a cultural shift — one that reshapes how marketers work toward common goals that unlock dynamic creative outcomes.
Meeting customers in a cookieless world
While consumers may appreciate relevant ads, many also have concerns about how their personal information, purchase preferences and browsing habits are being used. In response, regulations have tightened, and many web browsers and tech companies are disabling third-party cookies, i.e., becoming cookieless. The phasing out of third-party cookies can hinder marketers’ ability to effectively engage with customers in myriad ways, but organizations that pivot toward using first-party data in combination with digitalization can work around this issue to continue their strategic initiatives. Importantly, high-growth brands are taking the lead in the shift to a first-party data environment, as results from Deloitte’s “Global Marketing Trends Executive Survey” reveal that 61% of high-growth companies are shifting to a first-party data strategy, while only 40% of negative-growth companies say the same. This may signal that high-growth organizations more often recognize the pressing need to get ahead of the consumer sentiment shift on data privacy. CMOs from high-growth brands are also well ahead of negative-growth brands in deploying first-party data in more sophisticated ways, specifically in two key areas: delivering personalized content via dynamic creative optimization (51% versus 36%) and using data to serve ads to users via programmatic media (49% versus 29%).
Designing a human-first data experience
Consumers are increasingly wary of brands that seem to follow their every move and there is a fine line between helpfulness and intrusiveness when it comes to consumer data. Results from Deloitte’s “Global Marketing Trends Consumer Survey” reveal that 68% of consumers said they found it helpful when a brand they regularly shopped with provided them alerts when items went on sale, but conversely, 53% of respondents reacted negatively when it appeared their social media feed showed them an ad because their device was listening to them. The abundance of customer data available can lead to a paradox within organizations, with marketers seeking to use that data to create better customer experiences and chief information security officers (CISO) working to adhere to privacy regulations. Ultimately, the CMO should work with the CISO to cultivate customer trust through better data practices, designing experiences that create value, provide transparency and empower customers to control their own data journey.
Elevating the hybrid experience
Now that brands are more adept at digital delivery, the next challenge is providing the best integrated physical and digital, or hybrid, experiences. In fact, in Deloitte’s “Global Marketing Trends Executive Survey,” 75% of global executives said they will invest more in delivering hybrid experiences over the next 12 months, with many executives looking to hybrid to increase personalization (43%), innovation (43%), customer connection (40%) and inclusion (38%). Businesses can elevate their hybrid experiences by expanding choices, integrating feedback, and investing in the technological infrastructure that can bring these design principles to life. And, importantly, brands can utilize the principles of human-centered design to make their physical and digital experiences as agile and flexible as consumers have come to expect.
Supercharging customer service with AI
A dynamic experience for customers means delivering the assistance and information they need, when, where and how they want it. Deloitte’s “Global Marketing Trends Consumer Survey” asked consumers what information they found most helpful in making purchasing decisions and found that timely offers and knowledgeable customer service topped the list. With these insights, marketers can work to optimize artificial intelligence (AI) within the customer experience — achieving harmony between the human side of customer service centers and machine capabilities. By designing and deploying an AI strategy that helps brands meet customers in their moment of need, marketers and customer service leaders can create an end-to-end customer experience that seamlessly blends AI and human service — ultimately, to better serve their customers and their bottom line.