Ten predictions for trends that will accelerate in 2020 which will have implications for brands, agencies, skills, jobs.
When I started my marketing career with Tide India, we used to create two assets (TV copies) in a year and we were the fastest growing fabric care brand in the country. Four years later when I left the brand, I think the number of assets on Tide had risen to seven or eight per year. Imagine the number of assets on any brand being created today with TV, Print, OTT, YouTube, bumper ads, Influencer content, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok etc.
A few clichés first to set the premise for these predictions:
Changes happening on the consumer side: The consumer is consuming more content, pays less attention to most content, is present on more platforms, and increasingly will pay to not watch ads.
What will always be true: Consumers will consume content they like - watch their favourite movie, go to a mall, watch IPL or Bigg Boss. Consumers will still buy the product that meets their needs.
Extrapolating on the above clichés, here are my 10 predictions for 2020 and beyond:
1. 2X assets will be created in three years: My guess is, in the next three years, brands will be producing twice as many assets as they are producing today. More brands will join TikTok and Influencer marketing, WhatsApp may open up for advertising, Google will open new channels of advertising - altogether, new platforms may emerge. Realistically, marketing budgets will not change significantly so every dollar, every person, every minute will need to be twice as productive.
2. More media and creative work will move in-house: Need for agility and every dollar to work harder will get all the less skilled work in-house for brands. Brands, especially with scale, will get the non-core media planning, buying and non-core creative work like social media and content work done in-house. Junior talent will move from agency to brands.
3. Content creation and distribution planning will need to go hand in hand: Gone are the days when the creative agency was briefed to create a 30 second TV ad and then it was handed over to a media agency to find the most cost-effective way to deliver it to as many people as possible. Reaching the customers being tougher, content creation and its distribution will need to be planned together. One can’t create a one minute video and then try to figure out how it will reach customers.
4. Agencies will orient themselves along platforms combining creative and media: Long before I joined the industry, I am told, media and creative agencies used to be the same. We may be heading for the same again. There could be agencies specialising in platforms, or even amongst the bigger agencies, teams will be re-organised based on platforms.
5. Packaging will become the most critical branding element: As brands lose control over branding (little paid media) with user or content creator generating content, the only sure-shot way for creating a brand will be packaging in case of FMCG or experience in case of service or retail.
6. Even bigger money will follow the content which is working: Even if the ROI isn't justified on paper, more money will follow IPL, Bigg Boss, or the likes for which we know our customer is not cutting vegetables or getting the child to do homework while the TV is on.
7. Agencies will have to significantly cost rationalise: Agencies will be squeezed further for higher productivity as they need to create more assets with the same amount of money. I foresee more creative roles, fewer planning and even fewer account management roles.
8. More content will be integrated than created: Brands will need to integrate with content. Seamless integration of brands into programmes/ movies/ content which the consumer is watching will take place, instead of spending months in creating great content that may not work.
9. Skills - Learn and unlearn, Ability to straddle data and creativity both: This may sound clichéd but just like agencies need to think content creation and distribution simultaneously, brands may need people with skills who can think with both their left and right brains. Having today’s skills are great, but they are likely to become obsolete soon so invest in people who are quick learners.
10. Many brands will become products : Brands are built through a set of sensory experiences - Tide's chounk gae swoosh, Intel inside music, smell of bread-talk or Pizza Hut, “Just do it” from Nike have become synonymous to what these brands stand for. But this was true when all these were being created by brands. Now with brands losing control over what makes a brand, many brands will just become products. Surviving as products will need a different approach and so will brand building if brands want to remain brands.