2016 is going to be a fascinating year, presenting multiple opportunities for business leaders looking for growth. Curated with a customer-centric mindset, here is our list of trends that seem most likely to impact your business in the year ahead:
According to experts, by the year 2020, customers will manage more than 85% of their relations with companies without interacting with human beings, meaning that the customer experience will be the key competitive differentiator among businesses. Companies must quickly come to terms with clients demanding a great experience, integrated among multiple touch-points expecting an omnichannel, and are willing to pay more if they see the value. This should be a goal for 2016.
Customers are already bombarded with information, so great customer experiences are becoming the new baseline. Businesses that understand their customers and offer personalized solutions are maximizing customer loyalty, which directly translates to growth. Companies across the board will quickly learn that integrated customer experience is essential, rather than multiple micro-events that disengage customers. This year we will see tighter collaboration between sales and services to influence customer retention rates directly. In the loyalty landscape, the novelty of collecting points to earn some reward is slowly fading. New action-based systems and small branded experiences are resulting in higher engagements and repeat purchases. Also, businesses will reimagine their branding strategy to develop their brands from the inside out, leveraging employees as real brand ambassadors.
Customers should be your business' top priority, so make sure that everything you are doing caters to them. With more options to choose from, today's consumers are in charge, and your business needs them more than they need you. Let's work on keeping them.
Digital Marketing will die as businesses shift to do Marketing in a Digital World. Digital has become the consumer lens, how they see the world, so we have to stop thinking of it as another tactic. The customer journey has become tremendously connected in times of the omnichannel. We are competing in a new scenario: it's not just some new platforms that are digital, it's the entire world. Businesses need to shift from sorting tactics and channels to either digital or not if they want to catch up with their customers.
2016 will become the year where core digital practices like personalization and gamification will consolidate as strong trends. Growing businesses will spend the year optimizing their content, data, and technology platforms, so that customer experiences become more predictive and strategic.
If the world is now digital, it mostly connects through a mobile device. The number of users who connect through mobile devices has far surpassed desktop user connection some time ago. Businesses who have been lazy about pursuing mobile are about to miss the train altogether.
Having a beautiful website is not a solution anymore. The new solution includes mobile-optimized and responsive websites, custom apps to engage with customers, and mobile-targeted campaigns to connect with new prospects. Businesses need to embrace mobile if they are interested in competing in the new digital world. Winning companies have already moved on to more robust mobile solutions. For the rest, 2016 is the year to catch up. Mobile can’t be put off for another year.
Although it’s still evolving, 3D technology is poised to move from novelty to mainstream. We are living in a world where 3D printed jewelry and organs are a reality. But the real opportunity isn't the widget nor the printing, but the intellectual property that can be created. To the new breed of designers, please stand up.
The plans for products, parts, and supplies will soon become available for download, similar to music files. The most significant business opportunity is for the creative class to earn royalties for each download, in the same way owners of intellectual properties do. 2016 will present significant opportunities for designers who are open to disrupting the manufacturing process, envision new creative solutions, and design the new mainstream.
Innovation via Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is just getting started. Although it has been part of the Consumer Electronics Show for years, 2016 marks the first time that the Show had a dedicated space for them. As VR and AR are gaining more and more traction, experts predict that new solutions like 360 video cameras and drone integration will flourish to expand current possibilities.
This year, VR and AR will become even more popular as gadgets continue to grow more affordable. It will open endless opportunities to disrupt traditional industries with new solutions that can't be achieved through other technology. The majority of early VR applications are in Gaming, but it is also transforming the Tourism sector, while AR will enable innovation in the Auto Industry. We will be watching as these transformations unfold.
The market fixation on Millennials is overblown due to its lack of focus. The oldest Millennials are now turning 35, so they aren’t the new kids on the block anymore. If your company didn’t prepare to engage with the Millennials, you are late to the game. It's time to start analyzing the market potential of the next economic powerhouse: Generation Z.
Gen-Z is the youngest demographic of people entering the labor force in history, encompassing today's teens and young adults up to 21 years old. They grew up in times of economic uncertainty, thinking that they need to solve their own problems. This is a generation of confident self-starters who prefer to work for themselves and believe in entrepreneurship as the best approach for socio-economic growth. Many of Gen-Z traits will drive innovation and cause disruption in a broad range of sectors, propelling this generation to be a strong economic force in our near future.
Video ads are certainly nothing new, with digital channels like YouTube hosting billions of videos and social platforms like Facebook already offering video options. Now, Google is finally getting on board with video advertising while live-streaming continues to grow with new video apps that continue to gain market share as new touch-points to connect with customers. With all of this, Video will continue to drive content strategies in 2016 and will be used even more in the advertising space.
Businesses that invest in well-curated video content instead of traditional advertising will be rewarded as audiences' natural ad-blocking skills will continue to advance. Audiences are shifting to find entertainment and education on the web over other conventional channels, and traditional TV networks are all investing in their digital platforms. Smart businesses are integrating impartial content to support customer decisions, and audiences are responding. 2016 will show how video continues to shine, as streaming moves to the forefront of marketing, with innovative approaches that further develop emerging brands and engage with audiences.
For growth-minded businesses, the world is their market. Seeking international growth by going global offers multiple opportunities for exporters. Companies can reduce their dependence on local markets and leverage their know-how in other markets. By entering the international marketplace, local companies can learn how to compete against foreign businesses and take them to battle in their playground. The new digital world levels the field for all players, and local incentives can make it a victorious battle.
Going global is not just a trend, but a practical business decision for companies facing intense competition and increasing costs in their market as overall local growth slows. Doing business around the world can seem like a long way away in comparison to doing business two blocks from your home, but each year, more and more companies are starting the brave journey. Entering the international arena can significantly improve your overall growth potential and expansion in 2016.
If the new world is digital, the overarching theme among all trends is Data. 2016 may well be the year that more businesses seriously ramp up their investments in data analytics instead of just talking about it. There is no doubt that the ability to integrate and analyze all customer activities and business operations will separate growing companies from the pack.
Big Data, which includes internal and external data, is a goldmine for customer-centric companies. Most businesses are facing intensifying competition, and the data-driven marketing approach is expanding to help meet the challenge. 2016 will be a pivotal year for incorporating data and, perhaps more importantly, analytics, into business decisions. Savvy business leaders will understand that using data provides meaningful experiences, offers the opportunity to compete beyond discount pricing, and helps earn lifelong customer loyalty. That’s a real source of growth.
Sometimes in business, we need to shake up the status quo to foster growth and remember that optimism can be a strategic asset. With the right mindset, you might be able to get ahead of the curve and benefit from these new opportunities. Be open and innovate for optimized growth in 2016.
DuartePino is a management advisory firm that combines in-depth customer knowledge with practical expertise in marketing to help clients create sustainable business growth. We can provide your organization with a fresh perspective, a proven process that invests in the outcome, and the tools for successful execution. Contact us to learn more about growth strategies for your organization.