Latest marketing trends
We can say with some confidence that the marketplace isn’t what it used to be. It is dramatically different from what it was even 10 years ago.
Major Societal Forces
Today, major, and sometimes interlinking, societal forces have created new marketing behaviors, opportunities, and challenges. Here are 12 key ones.
- Network information technology. The digital revolution has created an Information Age that promises to lead to more accurate levels of production, more targeted communications, and more relevant pricing.
- Globalization. Technological advances in transportation, shipping, and communication have made it easier for companies to market in, and consumers to buy from, almost any country in the world. International travel has continued to grow as more people work and play in other countries.
- Deregulation. Many countries have deregulated industries to create greater competition and growth opportunities. In the United States, laws restricting financial services, telecommunications, and electric utilities have all been loosened in the spirit of greater competition.
- Privatization. Many countries have converted public companies to private ownership and management to increase their efficiency, such as the massive telecom company Telefónica CTC in Chile and the international airline British Airways in the United Kingdom.
- Heightened competition. Intense competition among domestic and foreign brands raises marketing costs and shrinks profit margins. Brand manufacturers are further buffeted by powerful retailers that market their own store brands. Many strong brands have become megabrands and extended into a wide variety of related product categories, presenting a significant competitive threat.
- Industry convergence. Industry boundaries are blurring as companies recognize new opportunities at the intersection of two or more industries. The computing and consumer electronics industries are converging, for example, as Apple, Sony, and Samsung release a stream of entertainment devices from MP3 players to plasma TVs and camcorders. Digital technology fuels this massive convergence.
- Retail transformation. Store-based retailers face competition from catalog houses; directmail firms; newspaper, magazine, and TV direct-to-customer ads; home shopping TV; and e-commerce. In response, entrepreneurial retailers are building entertainment into their stores with coffee bars, demonstrations, and performances, marketing an “experience” rather than a product assortment. Dick’s Sporting Goods has grown from a single bait-andtackle store in Binghamton, New York, into a 300-store sporting goods retailer in 30 states. Part of its success springs from the interactive features of its stores. Customers can test golf clubs in indoor ranges, sample shoes on its footwear track, and shoot bows in its archery range.
- Disintermediation. The amazing success of early dot-coms such as AOL, Amazon.com, Yahoo!, eBay, E*TRADE, and others created disintermediation in the delivery of products and services by intervening in the traditional flow of goods through distribution channels. These firms struck terror into the hearts of established manufacturers and retailers. In response, traditional companies engaged in reintermediation and became “brick-and-click” retailers, adding online services to their offerings. Some became stronger contenders than pure-click firms, because they had a larger pool of resources to work with and established brand names.
- Consumer buying power. In part, due to disintermediation via the Internet, consumers have substantially increased their buying power. From the home, office, or mobile phone, they can compare product prices and features and order goods online from anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, bypassing limited local offerings and realizing significant price savings. Even business buyers can run a reverse auction in which sellers compete to capture their business. They can readily join others to aggregate their purchases and achieve deeper volume discounts.
- Consumer information. Consumers can collect information in as much breadth and depth as they want about practically anything. They can access online encyclopedias, dictionaries, medical information, movie ratings, consumer reports, newspapers, and other information sources in many languages from anywhere in the world. Personal connections and user-generated content thrive on social media such as Facebook, Flickr (photos), Del.icio.us (links), Digg (news stories), Wikipedia (encyclopedia articles), and YouTube (video).Social networking sites—such as Dogster for dog lovers, TripAdvisor for ardent travelers, and Moterus for bikers—bring together consumers with a common interest. At CarSpace.com auto enthusiasts talk about chrome rims, the latest BMW model, and where to find a great local mechanic.
- Consumer participation. Consumers have found an amplified voice to influence peer and public opinion. In recognition, companies are inviting them to participate in designing and even marketing offerings to heighten their sense of connection and ownership. Consumers see their favorite companies as workshops from which they can draw out the offerings they want.
- Consumer resistance. Many customers today feel there are fewer real product differences, so they show less brand loyalty and become more price- and quality-sensitive in their search for value, and less tolerant about undesired marketing