Today | Written by Ralph Rozema
From purpose as a beacon of growth to dynamic customer services with AI. Deloitte's 2022 Global Marketing Trends report analyzes present and future behaviors that separate leading companies from the competition. Companies should embrace technological innovations, but always with a human touch.
For the 2022 Global Marketing Trends report researchers interviewed over a thousand chief executives, marketers and others on a variety of marketing topics and polled 11.500 consumers across 19 countries. The researchers distinguish seven trends among high-growth companies that will continue to play a major role in 2022. The conclusions of the report are optimistic: if last year was responding to an unprecedented shock, 2022 is about recovering or even thriving in a customer centric world.
Purpose driving new growth
Perhaps the most important conclusion in the report is about purpose as a driving force for new growth. The team encountered 'purpose sceptics' too, who cited price and quality as the top criteria for purchasing a product, but when diving deeper into the subject, respondents mentioned purpose-related criteria. Sustainability is a top criterion for beauty and personal care product purchases for a third of consumers under 26. A quarter mentioned data privacy as a key requirement for banking decisions. 57% of the respondents indicated that they are more loyal to brands that address social inequalities.
There is no question that brands need to deliver price and quality, but these are not making the real difference. Brands that commit to purpose are gaining a competitive advantage. High-growth brands are 66% more likely to see purpose as a means to guiding employee decision making.
Embedding purpose in every customer touch point
The role of CMOs is to connect purpose and the customer experience. As one of the respondents explains: „The marketer absolutely has a role in defining the why, because the why is the absolute soul of the brand." The task of CMOs is to bring the customer voice to the organization and ensure that purpose is embedded in every customer touch point. For Deloitte the emphasis on purpose is not new. In an interview last year, CMO Suzanne Kounkel at Deloitte stressed the importance of purpose for a company. ,,When we talk about Deloitte's purpose, we say it is impact that matters. I want to make impact. I want to do things that make a difference."
The conclusions of the report are very much in line with the view of other multinational corporations, such as Unilever. As CEO Alan Jope said: „Our brands compete on a platform that is purposeful, whether it is an environmental proposition or a social benefit. Those brands are growing roughly twice the rate of the rest of the portfolio."
Human-first data experiences
A second important conclusion in the Deloitte report is about the role of data. The mistake some organizations make is to use data extensively, but at the same time neglect human connections. Data experiences need to provide value to consumers. The researchers asked respondents to rate brand interactions that use consumer data. For instance, a majority of the respondents (68%) found it helpful when a brand they regularly shopped provided them alerts when items go on sale. But in other cases, for example when it appeared a device was listening to them, people reacted negatively.
Consumers ranked interactions as helpful when they already had a relationship with a brand. These interactions included consumer benefits such as a special offer or timely repurchase reminder. Where it concerns privacy issues, the researchers point to a paradox within organizations. While marketers seek data to create better customer experiences, cyber teams work to protect personal data and adhere to privacy regulations, so these teams need to work closely together.
A key question is how to integrate technology and a more human approach. After all, your clients are human, not machines. The solution, as comes forward in Deloitte's report, is to design human-first data experiences. It means interacting with customers and their data to foster trust. When it comes to trusted data experiences, transparency and humanity are essential. When brands show transparency and humanity, customers are 2.5 times more likely to provide personal information that helps improve the product. And they are 1.7 times more likely to feel they have received more value than expected. Technology works especially well when it builds on existing human relationships. As Deloitte's CMO Kounkel said in a podcast with Grace Gong: „We believe that tech enables everything to be faster, better, stronger, and particularly to help humans to be better at doing the things that are particularly human."
Reimagining AI strategies
AI (Artificial Intelligence) can play an important role to reach valuable customer interactions. The research team asked consumers what information they found most helpful while making purchase decisions. Across eight sectors respondents cited a 'timely offer' most often with 'knowledgeable customer service' as the second most useful option. Other options, such as customized recommendations, free trials and cancelation policies, were less mentioned in the survey. The way to get the best offer in front of customers is to optimize Artificial Intelligence. As the researchers conclude: „We believe the answer is to optimize AI within the customer experience, achieving harmony between human tasks and machine capabilities."
Breaking down silos
The researchers advise companies to break down silos between Artificial Intelligence and contact centers. Marketers should aim to create an integrated machine-human approach that better serves customers and supports employees. AI can provide service representatives with information as they serve customers to help them to make the right decision. To optimize the customer experience, the researchers suggest to identify each touch point along the customer journey, make sure they are all connected, and design with human-centered factors at the forefront.
Although AI tools are available to help marketers and customer service leaders, not everyone is ready to apply such tools. For some who have worked for years in marketing without so much technology, AI may be a new challenge. For CMO Kounkel at Deloitte, technology has enriched the work. „Technology makes people better. One of the pieces of advice I always give people is: even if you are not a technologist, don't be scared of it. Get really comfortable with what technology can do."