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What are the game-changers that marketers must consider when creating and implementing strategies? What are those trends that are presently having a huge impact on consumers? Although there are many trends, we focus on five. These five are having and will continue to have impact on global marketing and on how we create, nurture, and strengthen global brands.

Whether you own or manage a large global brand or a small local brand, understanding these five trends and creating and executing programs to leverage them are marketing and brand survival imperatives.

  1. The two-humped demographic camel—Demographics are a marketing reality. The world is getting older and younger at the same time with Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) at one end of the spectrum and Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) at the other. It is popular in the current marketing environment to focus primarily on Millennials. The real issue is that over the next decade, marketers will have to be relevant to two huge groups of people who have different values and view the world through different lenses (see Figure 1.2).

    Figure 1.2

    Figure 1.2 The two-humped demographic camel

  2. Personalization is on the rise—Personalization is different from customization. Customization is transactional and all about features and functions; personalization is experiential. Technology is fueling this desire for the ever-more-personalized experience. Personalization can be delivered in many ways, and Millennials and Boomers have different sets of expectations. The dark side of personalization needs to be taken into account because there is a fine line between insightful personalization and intrusive prying. Millennials and Boomers see this invasion of privacy differently.
  3. The evolution from the Age of We to the Age of Me to the Age of I—There is a new values mind-set in which people want to be individuals while being part of like-minded communities of common interests. The Age of We was the golden era of mass marketing beginning after World War II. The Age of Me was the flowering of the Boomer culture. It was a self-focused, self-indulgent “me generation” era where the individual ruled. Today, we live in the Age of I—the Inclusive Individualists. Technology is driving the ability to belong to many different groups, each reflecting a part of you while desiring to be perceived as an independent person. It’s changing the nature of relationships, communities, and family.
  4. In the techno, digital, mobile instant, networked world, we are hyper-connected—Closeness takes on a new meaning when you are physically not close. Family has new meanings. I have my “real” family with whom I can stay in contact 24/7, and I have my created families: the communities of like-minded others. The proliferation of data, technology, and multiple devices requires marketers to build brand relationships differently than ever before.
  5. The decline in trust—So many things that were once so right are now perceived as having let people down. Whether institutions such as government, business, universities, organized religions, finance, or advertising and brands, trust is in decline. When people do not trust you or your brand or your organization, they doubt you will deliver on your promises. Doubt is driving skepticism, frustration, and even anger. Studies show that increasingly customers are more and more skeptical. As a result, some are becoming increasingly activist. The Edelman Trust Barometer and global research by Monitor and other studies indicate a lack of trust in big enterprises and a growth in doubt and anger.9

Of these forces, personalization is already the major game-changer. Although all three forces—globalization, localization, and personalization—are important for global brand marketing, the rise of personalization seems to be having the biggest impact on what we expect from brands and how we perceive them. Companies such as Blue Nile (online diamond jeweler), Birchbox (monthly subscription service of personalized beauty products), Trunk Club (Men’s personalized shopping and delivery service), and Stitch Fix (personalized styling service for women) are creating product and service experiences designed for the individual customer.10 Customers increasingly desire products and services that reflect personal wants and needs. Trust is critical.

All brands are relationship based. A brand is a bond—a promise that you will deliver what you promise. As with any relationship, trust allows for belief that the other party will do what’s promised. Trust affects the perceived value of a brand. To create more personalized products and services, brands need to know details about the customer. The more customers trust, the more they will share personal information. The more information shared, the more intensely personal the experiences.

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