Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

Ahead of what is expected to be another difficult marketing year, the global Dentsu advertising network has identified three megatrends that will go some way towards assisting brands define and chart a recovery.

Locally, media buying agency The Media Shop says a cyclical recovery in global economic growth will be felt in SA gradually next year. It says the momentum will likely complement an increase in adspend as digital channels increase their consumption and reach.

In a report titled "Reimagine Next", Dentsu says consumers have become accustomed to the flexibility offered by omnichannel retail — the ability to research and buy both online and in-store and by combining the two. The report says many other areas of life are now becoming omnichannel, developing hybrid models that mix digital and in-person participation. Brands need to experiment to accommodate this megatrend, Dentsu says. Shopping and payment messages should include strong, brand-based messages.

The second megatrend is increased brand citizenship. Dentsu says: "Brands are increasingly showing their human side. The rise of social media has meant that many consumer-facing brands now have a more human tone of voice. They have become used to sharing news and to replying to queries. Many are … showing a more empathetic and caring side."

The key takeaway for brands is a "new need to be conscious of their consumers’ views and [to] help them live more sustainable lives".

The third megatrend concerns the redefinition of identity. Dentsu says: "It seems certain that people’s online identities will become even more important to them, while being ever harder for brands to access. Brands need to be trusted for people to agree to sign into their sites [or stores] or submit e-mail addresses to give them permissions to target. Brands can build trust by acting in more ethical, fair and sustainable ways, essentially by demonstrating transparency and empathy."

According to The Media Shop’s Louise Hefer, the lockdown in SA accelerated the growth of streaming services and viewing behaviour during 2020. "All indications are that consumer viewing habits have changed permanently. In the war for audience share, there are two categories that continuously tip the scale — sport and local content."

Another trend to watch out for in 2022 is the growing popularity of concept stores.

Simone Musgrave from Musgrave Crafted Spirits, which has a boutique gin and brandy range, says the aim of the concept store is to offer engagement spaces and storytelling platforms. "This gives the visitor a haptic impression of the brand, and an emotional experience. Liquor brands, which have always been about the brand experience, are ideally suited to the concept store environment. It offers the consumer the opportunity to immerse themselves in the brand. So not only are they buying the product or merchandise, they’re also bottling their own limited edition, personalising it with their own label or packaging it as a unique gift."

Brands following this trend include French fashion retailer Ba&sh in New York. Its store features a "dream closet" where customers can choose some of the label’s signature items and "borrow" them for 72 hours. And it’s not just luxury brands — in Chicago, furniture and homeware store Crate & Barrel is launching a restaurant in its store. Other brands, like Vodacom, Zara and adidas have also launched such stores.

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