Future-proofing marketing capability

By 2024, the population of digital natives will exceed those who have had to learn throughout their life which means technology and digital will no longer be simply a component of society but part of its fabric.

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From high-speed mobile connections to Netflix to social networks, the way consumers interact with brands has evolved rapidly. Today’s customers already look drastically different - playing a leading role through technology and challenging the way marketing has traditionally operated.

“By the time they contact a supplier like ANZ, they will have consulted more than ten information sources and will be 57 per cent through their purchase journey.”

Marketing is at a tipping point. What once made for effective marketing - like encouraging people to buy a product or sign up to a mailing list - is no longer working. Although the marketing theory remains the same, the tools look vastly different.

Today, organisations can no longer exist for the sole purpose of delivering profit but instead must play a positive role in improving their customer’s lives.

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Info on the consumer’s side

Today, consumers have an abundance of information, from product reviews to comparison websites. In fact, by the time they contact a supplier like ANZ, they will have consulted more than 10 information sources and will be 57 per cent through their purchase journey.

But with so much information available, consumer psychology has become further complicated by conflicting emotional needs. Consumers can research how and where a product was manufactured while comparing pricing across multiple marketplaces - they are constantly torn between getting the best value and honouring their values through the products they purchase.

To help them balance out their needs, consumers will increasingly rely on intermediaries and artificial intelligence (AI) for decision support. By 2025, 95 per cent of consumer interactions with a brand will be via AI.

Product recommendations, whether they come from intermediaries like Netflix, Google or Amazon, will matter to consumers more and more as they are overwhelmed by an abundance of information. Consumers will learn to delegate their decision making to intermediaries and AI, often automatically. As a result, it will be the intermediaries that will appear quickly to help new behaviours spread fast.

TikTok is a great example. Launched in 2019, within the first year the platform already boasted 2.5 million Australian users. From dance challenges to the latest food trends, it is clear TikTok is driving new behaviours. Looking further afield to South Korea, social chat brand and internet company Kakao launched the first digital-only bank KakaoBank, attracting 820,000 users in the first four days of launching in 2017. This swelled to 10 million customers by 2019.

Beyond personalisation, anticipation

These changes must drive new marketing innovations - moving away from personalising services to anticipation through AI and machine learning. In the future, marketers will have an even greater amount of access to a rich array of data to build customer profiles. The pressure is on to innovate rapidly and create new offerings that speak to consumers at a deep level.

Examples of anticipation today include the small nudges received from an email service asking to follow up on an email from last week or receiving Amazon’s product recommendations: “Buying some nappies? Would you like to bundle that with some talcum powder?”.

US-based bank Capital One has worked with analytics platform Foursquare to send real-time banking notifications based on location and proximity to partner retailers. HSBC has similarly used an AI-driven predictive recommendation engine for credit card rewards - increasing redemption by 70 per cent.

The challenge many organisations face is whether their marketers have the technical skills to enable these changes.

Future marketers

For organisations, the imperative is on senior leaders to strategically invest in people. By 2022, no less than 54 per cent of all employees will require significant re- and up-skilling.

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Top-performing marketers must evolve to become a team that can blend vital soft skills like creativity, adaptability and resilience with new technical skills like data and technology literacy. The ability to combine empathy and emotional intelligence to address issues like sustainability and ethics will set the discipline apart.

Operating models will no longer focus on campaigns. Instead marketers will coordinate end-to-end journeys, creating customer moments that matter across multiple channels.

Although the job remains the same - to connect consumers to stories, brands and experiences - teams will include specialists with deep expertise and new titles like Machine and People Ethics Managers, Subscription Strategists and Master Storytellers.

Attaining these capabilities will require a mix of upskilling programs for existing team members, changing hiring profiles for new recruits, and seeding new roles that drive capability shifts.

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The marketplace is evolving rapidly; new entrants and competitors will come from unexpected places to respond to novel consumer behaviours. Marketers will have the analytical skills and consumer insights to identify these challenges and rapidly respond.

For organisations, the marketing function will be essential for sound decision making across the business as insights drive service, sales and decisions across innovation and product development.

At ANZ, we recognise the implications of these changes and have spent the past four years on a mission to become more customer-centric. We are on a transformational journey to be responsible not only for the bank’s reputation but also to deepen customer relationships and accelerate growth.

Today and into the future, information is now on the side of the consumer. All brands, including banks, need to evolve to deliver.

Kate Young is Senior Manager for Customer Centricity & Capability at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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