As we step into the new year, marketing presents exciting trends that promise to redefine how brands connect with their audiences- but there’s a lot of noise to cut through. With the help of some faculty and friends, we discuss 5 key trends and the potential implications for marketers in 2024.
1. Evolution of Influencer Marketing and Authenticity
In the era of social media saturation, the allure of being an influencer has become a common aspiration, particularly among the younger generation. A survey of Millennial and Gen Z Americans show about 86% said they're willing to try out influencing on their social media platforms — and 12% said they already considered themselves one. However, this popularity surge comes with a significant challenge – the need for authenticity. As the influencer market becomes increasingly saturated, the ability of influencers to break through and make impact will be directly tied to their perceived authenticity. YCCI’s Ravi Dhar and colleagues highlight this in their work titled “Authenticity is Contagious Brand Essence and the Original Source of Production,” stating, "Brands often carefully choose spokespeople to represent their products. Our results suggest they should choose these spokespeople based not only on their popularity or expertise but also on their authenticity—their perceived ability to transfer the genuine brand essence." Influencers stand to gain by being more discerning in their partnerships to cut through the noise of swipe-ups and links in bios. Brands, in turn, will seek collaborations that align not only with the influencer's reach but also with their genuine connection to the product or service.
2. Purposeful Personalization
Personalization has been a buzzword in marketing for some time, but in 2024, it takes on a new level of significance. With Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari planning to eliminate third-party cookies in 2024, the pressure is on to prepare alternatives around tracking and personalization. The key lies in continuing to leverage first-party data, but evolving to explore zero-party data insights to craft content, offers, and experiences that align with customer values and preferences. While first-party data is collected directly from customer interactions and can provide insight into purchase history, website activity, and demographics, zero-party data is intentionally offered to the company by customers, such as survey responses or ratings. Crafting personalized experiences based on this data has the potential to not only drive increased spending, but also demonstrates a commitment to respecting customer consent and intent. Yale SOM Professor Jiwoong Shin’s research has explored optimal targeting strategy for advertisers and its implications on the consumer’s data privacy choices. This work provides an important caution: as we learn more about how to accurately target consumers, we must also be aware of the pitfalls. As consumers take a more active role in the decision to opt-in or opt-out, it will be important to consider potential implications on firm incentives, and how these incentives might ultimately impact consumer behavior. For example, if an advertiser knows a consumer has opted in and that they buy habitually, will they be more likely to be served higher price points and fewer promotions? If so, what implications will this have on consumer trust?
3. Conversational Commerce
Engaging in conversations has always been a powerful tool in marketing, and in 2024, it takes center stage with conversational commerce. Leveraging messaging apps as transactional platforms and incorporating chat features on commerce sites are positioned to gain momentum, with consumers increasingly seeking efficiency and convenience and these chat interfaces offering a seamless way to interact and make purchases. The efficiency of conversational commerce lies in its ability to guide customers through the buyer's journey in a personalized and interactive manner.
Chief Digital Officer of BlackRock, Nilanjan Adhya spoke on this topic at the 2023 Insights Conference: “Most websites are the digital equivalent of empty stores… it has a lot of content out there but no conversation… And once we started having the conversation, we found that a large percent of it was actually leading to sales engagement and many of the sales engagements were also converting.”
4. Emerging Technologies for Richer Business Possibilities
As we look to the future, the role of technology in marketing cannot be overstated. Artificial Intelligence continues to revolutionize how marketers analyze data, automate processes, and enhance customer experiences. AI-driven insights enable more informed decision-making, allowing marketers to anticipate customer needs and deliver tailored content— the differentiator lies in understanding how these technologies work to truly harness the potential and add a next level of value.
Yale SOM faculty K Sudhir and Kyle Jensen have spearheaded a new course at Yale SOM to address this head on titled “Large Language Models: Theory and Applications.” As Jensen put it: “We thought we really need to be teaching this to our students because every company in the world is going to be thinking about what their AI strategy is, especially in regards to large language models.” Sudhir says, “My philosophy in this course was guided by my belief that when managers understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind Large Language Models and Generative AI technologies, they can envision richer possibilities for their businesses.” This breakthrough course further underscores the importance of embracing the power of these emerging technologies to work best for businesses in the future, and that this “trend” is here to stay.
5. Marketing Inwards: Turn Up the Rizz
A notable trend for 2024 is the increasing focus on marketing inwards. Marketers are now tasked not only with promoting brands among an external audience of customers, but also with selling the brand internally as it can foster a stronger connection with employees and has even been suggested to improve customer service. In an era where the employer becomes your consumer and the consumer becomes your employer, being able to dial up internal influence can go a long way.
Even though Oxford's 2023 Word of the Year, "rizz" may soon become outdated, the sentiment of charisma remains a strategic way to turn up influence when it comes to marketing inwards. We asked Zoe Chance, author of Influence Is Your Superpower and Senior Lecturer at Yale SOM her take on this trend: “Influence is power—being influential gives you the ability to create change, direct resources, and move hearts and minds. So when you’re championing a new idea as a marketer, you need to be able to sell that idea in to make the change happen. People need to want to say yes to you.”
As organizations recognize the significance of an engaged and aligned workforce, marketers have a pivotal role to play in influencing that resonance with employees.