Thomas Egli, an expert in trends, presents the three trends that nobody is going to be able to sidestep and explains how companies can recognise which trends are relevant for them.
Thomas, in the Live Marketing Trend Report you name and analyse the most important mega, macro and microtrends and their significance for live marketing. What are the three trends from which there is no escaping in 2017?
It is not all that easy to give a clear-cut answer to that. The relevance of trends depends very much on the personal situation or the individual situation of an industry or a company. What matters here is to adopt the correct perspective. For that reason, we customise our report for the ten most important industries and for organisers and associations or, where there is a need, for individual companies too. From my personal point of view, I shall most certainly be keeping a close eye on the following three trends in 2017:
Trend 1: Smart data
Smart data is one of the most central challenges confronting companies and especially those with responsibility for marketing and live marketing too. Following on from the big data era, the primary aim must be to extract the relevant information from the enormous deluge of data to enable us to describe customers and target groups, or rather their needs and behaviour, as accurately and as individually as possible. The better the customers can be profiled, the more precisely messages and contents can then be placed. That is shown very impressively by figures from the USA. The market for personal information there is estimated to be worth more than 150 billion dollars, so there is certainly a demand for such information.
Trend 2: Content
A second trend is the whole issue of content, which is growing at a striking rate in importance in marketing and live marketing circles. It always used to be the case that messages and contents had to be defined, but with the new information requirements and the target-group profiles that are available, more high-quality content will be produced and distributed that is individualised as far as possible. It is our assumption that, in future, this additional content is going to account for 45-55% of the value of events, sponsorships and exhibitions. Attention is moving more and more away from the stage or exhibition stand and towards the digital accompaniments.
Trend 3: Virtual and augmented reality
And a third trend involves the two topics of virtual and augmented reality. This is an area in which, over the next two years, we are going to be leaving the “test phase” of the early adopters and moving more and more into mainstream applications. It may well be that the technology still holds a lot of potential to be tapped, but it is already available, or is on the verge of a breakthrough. What has to be done now is to integrate this potential in platforms as additional standardised experience elements and put it to commercial use. Take the Magic Leap start-up, for example, into which Google and other investors have already poured more than 1.4 billion dollars. I am convinced that this is going to bring about massive changes in our lives and, above all else, in live marketing too.
What does that mean more specifically for live marketing?
The better the companies know the visitors to their organised events, the better they will be able to communicate with them in a customised and relevant manner. Another way of putting this is that event communication will become strongly individualised. The aspiration for the future must be for the different target groups to receive personalised invitations, for autonomous guidance systems to direct visitors attending an event to the correct forum straightaway on the basis of their profile and behaviour, or for visitors to an event only to receive information that is truly relevant for them afterwards. Taking the example of a trade fair, it would be conceivable to propose individual tours and recommendations to visitors on the basis of interests they are known to have, or for them to be able to obtain real-time comparisons of offers received at the stands they visit.
“In future, 10-20% of the live-marketing budget is going to be channelled into content management.”
Companies are going to have to make sure that they are equipped to deal with content. For processing sponsorships, events or exhibition activities they need to have content teams, know-how and clever production and distribution processes. Some 10-20% of the live-marketing budgets will be spent on content management in future. One further challenge is that the new developments in the fields of social media channels, digital devices and add-on services or the customisation of content will lead to a further massive growth in the need for content. Companies and organisers are going to need to put a great deal of effort into that in future.
“Event experiences are going to be virtually enriched through special effects or background information.”
As far as the technology for virtual and augmented reality is concerned, there are likely to be two phases for live marketing. The first of these involves making the technology, which has only had limited diffusion to date, accessible to the public in an entertaining way. Examples of this are various simulators or games already available today or the possibility of finding oneself – in virtual form – on a stage in front of 20 000 people. At some time in future, there is going to be demand for more than these gimmicks. They are going to make way for applications with tangible business benefits. It will be possible, for example, to pay a virtual visit to a trade fair or to fly over the top of it; experiences of events will be virtually enriched by more than 50% through special effects or background information; or it will be possible to take one’s avatar for a walk through a virtual fair and to meet one’s customers and partners in digital space.
What else is contained in the report and how does it help companies determine their live-marketing strategy?
The report is divided into two parts. The first of these contains descriptions of the overriding trends that we are going to have to deal with more or less intensively in the coming years. It deals not only with the longer-term mega and macrotrends but also marketing trends, which are generally more short-term, as well as selected technology trends. The clear added value here is that, in only a short period of time, it is possible to obtain a far-reaching overview of all the relevant changes without having to read dozens of pages. The second part (the actual core of the report and a new feature) goes on to deal with the live-marketing trends that we have identified and outlined. The report shows which substantive developments are going to occur in the areas of strategy, platforms, topics and activation and which we must therefore include in our thinking.
“We identify the most important trends in a customised manner and issue recommendations for action.”
The biggest benefit for the companies lies in the fact that they have a comprehensive collection of development trends, which they can use for a very critical review of their live-marketing activities and even their marketing activities, enabling them to identify where they need to make adaptations and to introduce these speedily. It is precisely here than the report goes a step further than conventional studies, in that we identify the most important trends specifically for each industry – and even for each company, if the need is there – and then go on to derive recommendations for the individual use of these.
That sounds exciting. How was the report compiled in practice?
That sounds exciting. How was the report compiled in practice? In recent years, we have received enquiries from customers like Swisscom, UBS and Mobiliar about marketing trends and live-marketing developments. The responsible managers felt a great deal of uncertainty especially when it comes to the new digital communication channels, the increasing transparency, the ever-tougher demands formulated by the target groups and the lack of possibilities for differentiating. All of that triggered their desire for assistance.
That is what led us to carry out the initial trend analyses. Given that there was obviously not a comprehensive and practically focused trend report available, and especially not in live marketing, and there was clearly a demand for one, we decided somewhere along the line that we would produce such a report.
How can companies recognise which trends are relevant for them?
As mentioned, thanks to its customisation by industry or company, it is as if the report delivers a perfect pass in a football match, but the player – or company – receiving the ball has still got to make a goal out of it. Joking apart, what is needed is the open-mindedness to question established ways of doing things, an ability to maintain a certain distance and a structured approach. Most companies are sufficiently professional to review their own activities in a critical way. What is generally more difficult for them is to recognise and assess the changes needed from the point of view of the target group and also to retain control over the complexity that trend adaptations bring with them. And this is precisely the point at which we can provide them with added value.
Reflection Marketing is an exclusive marketing agency with the focus on “strategic marketing” and “live marketing”. It examines strategies and how they are implemented from the point of view of target groups, develops strong strategies and ensures effective 360-degree realisation, taking in all the “customer touchpoints”. Reflection Marketing is part of the Live Marketing Solutions of the MCH Group.