2016 is going to be a fascinating year. It holds multiples 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:
By 2020, customers will manage more than 85% of its relations with companies without interacting with human beings, according to experts. This means that customer experience will the 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 an integrated customer experience is essential, rather than multiple micro events that disengage customers. The year 2016 will see tighter collaboration between sales and services to directly influence customer retention rates. 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 the world. Businesses need to shift from sorting tactics and channels as 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 2016 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 blew past desktop users a while ago. Businesses who have been lazy about pursuing mobile are about to miss the train altogether.
Having a beautiful website is not the 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 other things with solid 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 3D printed organs are a reality. But the real opportunity isn't the widget nor the printing, but the intellectual property that can be created. 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 biggest business opportunity is for the creative class to earn royalties for each download, in the same way, the other owners of intellectual properties do. 2016 will present big opportunities for designers who are open to disrupt the manufacturing process, envision new creative solutions, and design the new mainstream.
Innovation with 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 VR and AR. So, VR and AR are getting traction, and experts predict that new solutions like 360 video cameras and drone integration will flourish to expand current possibilities.
VR and AR will become even more popular in 2016 as gadgets continue to become more affordable. It will open endless opportunities to disrupt traditional industries with new solutions that cannot be done with any other technology. The majority of early VR applications are in Gaming, but VR will also transform the Tourism sector while AR will enable innovation in the Auto Industry. We will be watching.
The market fixation on Millennials is overblown because 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 for the game. It is 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, 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. It’s a generation of confident self-starters who prefer to work for themselves and believe in entrepreneurship as the best approach to for socioeconomic growth. Many of Gen-Z traits will drive innovation and 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 be used even more in the advertising space.
Businesses that invest in well-curated video content instead of traditional advertising will be rewarded because 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 and 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 successful 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. The main reason to go global is to improve the company potential for expansion and growth. Doing business around the world can seem a long way from doing business two blocks from your home, but each year countless businesses start that journey. Entering the international arena can significantly improve your overall growth potential 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 crucial 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. Remember that optimism can be a strategic asset. With the right mindset, you might be able to go ahead of the curb and benefit from these new opportunities. Be open and innovate for 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.
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