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5 digital marketing trends to look out for in 2017

Written by Charlotte | 30-Dec-2016 14:25:00

Originally published on: Foodbev.com

Date: 30 Dec 2016

It’s fair to say that 2016 has been one marked by significant change – even beyond the political and economic ones. The FMCG space has seen retailers change their promotional landscape significantly, but also a number of innovative new developments hit the aisles in 2016 to better engage with customers. With this in mind, digital media experts Equimedia have looked ahead to 2017 to see how the coming 12 months might be shaped by further new trends.

The ‘right here right now’ trend

This is a widely discussed issue from the recent Mintel Consumer Trends 2017 event. It refers to brands being relevant in the moments that matter to people, and how they need to be on hand to help consumers at that precise moment when they are deciding what to buy, watch, do or eat. These key moments of brand action have to take place in timeframes from the next 30 minutes to the next 48 hours, which means brands need to be alert to these moments happening and have the facilities and agency to take action on that knowledge.

This trend has been aided by the rise in popularity of geo-location technology and for FMCG brands opens up the possibilities of geo-locational campaigns. We think this is especially prevalent for reaching UK millennials where, according to Mintel, 29% would be happy to share their real-time location with brands they like in exchange in order to receive nearby offers.

Geo-locational campaigns will obviously work well for bricks and mortar stores or where brands can make use of beacon technology to alert users to special offers curated just for them. Uptake has been slow here but examples like Pokémon Go show how people can interact with their immediate surroundings, and how they search for things to do and buy in any given environment. The success of Pokémon Go has shown the way forward and is likely to spur on innovation. This also ties in with the growing adoption of AR and VR, which is one of our trend predictions for next year.

Embracing the use of chat bots

More and more brands are utilising platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Whatsapp to connect with consumers and we think this is a trend that will catch on more with FMCG brands. This is a high-growth area and is quickly becoming the expected norm for customer service.

We have seen a great example from Domino’s who have launched a chat bot called Dom that allows customers to order pizza directly from Facebook Messenger. Facebook have also recently launched a new feature so that, when users click on an ad in their newsfeed, this opens up straight into a conversation. Chat bots are still new territory for many brands, and they can require a lot of investment to make them work for audiences, depending on their application and the brand purpose behind the bot. As these kinks are being worked out for more widespread adoption, we will start to see the brands who have already invested in and refined their development rise to the fore with innovative customer communications techniques.

A move away from mass price promotions and traditional sales periods

‘Right here, right now’ ties directly into this trend, where real-time data is being used creatively to deliver localised offers, as well as campaigns. One example we came across was for Mustache Cerveza, a Spanish beer brand who set the price of their beer based on the changing tide levels. When the tide was high, the price went down while at low tide the beer became more expensive.

Off-peak is being discussed as a growing marketing sector with brands moving away from traditional sales periods to boost sales. Geo-location data and access to the technology behind it is helping to fuel this, and it is leading to innovative approaches to promotional activity which are more ‘in the moment’ for consumers. Short term deals and offers – like a price which ebbs and flows with the tide – can create a lot of interest and anticipation among target audiences.

There has been a lot of discussion in the industry press about brands moving away from mass price promotions in favour of building brand through advertising. While promotions can cause a temporary uplift in volume of sales they do not necessarily drive category growth. They also need to be carefully analysed to make sure brands are building long term loyalty with audiences and not eroding brand value. The opportunity gained through advertising is to communicate brand benefits and new product development, and communicate wider brand ethos and messages to gain long-term audience affiliations. Promotions can have a positive impact on revenue when executed in the right place and at the right time, which brings us back to ‘right here, right now’.

Influencer marketing, bloggers, vloggers and brand ambassadors are not new, but the way they are being deployed is constantly changing. All of these audience-gatekeepers enable FMCG brands to move beyond their standard activity, driving additional opportunities for engagement and to build brand. With Instagram we have seen vloggers now able to tag their stories so that if a user clicks on the video it links to the brand’s Instagram page. For example, if a food blogger uploads a video of their meal as an Instagram story, they can tag the specific brands that they have used. This deepens the potential for brands to connect to that influencer’s audience beyond sponsorship, and make the content much richer and more informative for the audience – and this presents another way to communicate promotional consideration for a post, which is crucial when engaging with influencer communities.

YouTube also talks about their ‘micro-communities’ as an opportunity for brands to reach passionate and engaged audiences. One of their most devoted YouTube communities has formed around the subject of baking, with baking content on YouTube in the UK receiving almost 300 million views. Tesco is an example of a brand who have tapped into this, and delivered a series of creatives around the Great British Bake Off that featured baking hints and recipe ideas.

Use of more innovative formats

This year, we have seen FMCG brands embrace shoppable ad formats where the creative includes add to basket functionality across all of the key supermarkets. We think this will become much more tried and tested as FMCG brands look to capture additional data beyond reach and impressions. Add to this sponsored Amazon Dash buttons for automatic reordering of products and retailers and brands alike are trying to remove as many barriers as possible between themselves, customers and purchase.

Video is establishing itself firmly as the dominant creative format and we’ll see a move away from re-purposed TV ads to true, digital-first content enriched with new ways for people to engage. Live streaming also offers exciting opportunities for FMCG brands to humanise their brand and go behind the scenes. This will, in turn, see ‘smart’ TV services respond with enhanced advertising mechanisms.

Recently we have seen a lot of FMCG brands appear on Snapchat, especially around NPD and using Face Filters. We think this will grow especially with the launch of Snaplytics Competitor Analysis which will create tactical opportunities for brands. We also think formats like Facebook Canvas will be used much more by FMCG brands as part of their brand extension efforts.