The top 10 marketing trends for 2024

Kantar’s 2024 marketing trends look at macro and micro trends marketers need to consider to grow their brands.

1. AI will continue to grow

Most marketers are positive about the possibilities of Gen AI and are exploring ways of using the technology to create efficiencies in the way they develop creative work. The Kantar team believe that 2024 will provide even more opportunities for scale, efficiency and creativity. However, marketers need to understand that the effectiveness of creative content will continue to grow, requiring AI measurement approaches that match the pace and scale of the technology.

2. Culture will continue to come first

Most consumers want to buy from brands with values that align with their own. However, though 80% of consumers claim to make an effort to buy from companies that support causes important to them, they don’t always do what they say. Kantar calls this the “purchasing value-action gap”. Despite this gap, brands need to stay aligned with the cultural preferences of their consumers. Kantar’s research indicates that more demanding consumers are increasingly confrontational, with higher expectations about brands and changing norms about conversations and disagreements. In 2024, says Kantar, “confrontational risk must be embedded in marketing planning. Not at the expense of product mission, just more in sync with culture.”

3. The challenge between brand control vs cancel culture

Social media has intensified the risk and scale of consumer backlash, creating an environment where marketers may have less control. Kantar’s research shows that half of marketers globally invested in influencer content in 2023, with 59% saying they will be increasing their spend on influencers in 2024. Brands choosing to take a stand need to ensure they don’t get cancelled for being inappropriate. This requires marketers to become more culturally connected and to be prepared to navigate potential social media backlash. Kantar says brands that speak out in a way that is consistent with their DNA and stand up for what they believe can make their way into consumers’ hearts, despite possible short-term controversies.

4. Attention and emotion influence effectiveness

Attention plays a critically important role in creative and media effectiveness. Savvy marketers are optimising their return on investment spend by developing ads and media plans which maximise attention. Marketers are learning that attention is layered, which makes behavioural viewing measures less relevant while an understanding of the quality of the consumer’s creative attention - including facial coding and eye-tracking techniques - is gaining prominence. While AI-based creative and media predictions of attention are being used less than observational techniques, Kantar says it is no surprise that the use of AI-based attention predictions is rising and is predicted to play a greater role in 2024, allowing marketers to measure attention at scale for digital ads.

5. Sustainability metrics on the rise

Marketing dashboards increasingly now include sustainability metrics, according to Kantar’s Sustainability Marketing 2030 report. Kantar expects to see a shift towards sustainable innovation, inclusive communication and strategic public relations. Balancing profit, planet and people is no longer a compromise but a valid business strategy.

6. Growing brands via radical innovation

Kantar’s BrandZ 2023 data reveals that brands perceived as innovative grow three times faster than brands that are not innovative. Brands that achieve a competitive advantage through innovation have some characteristics in common: they are consumer-centric; they build their innovations from strong brand foundations; they shape the future of their category; and they are usually ahead on sustainability. They are brave, test and learn. Kantar believes radical innovation will be a strong trend in 2024 for brands that want to find the best path to incremental growth.

7. Challenger brands gain prominence

Kantar data reveals that brands with less than 10% penetration are gaining ground globally, with half of shoppers saying they prefer to buy from smaller companies as opposed to large global brands. This trend is driving disproportionate growth in the consumer packaged goods industry. Larger brands in that industry therefore need to build marketing capabilities across critical areas such as agility and speed to market; consumer-centric approaches; innovation and disruption; data-driven decision-making; direct-to-consumer expertise; and storytelling that focuses on meaningful difference. To be successful, challenger brands need to focus on niche markets and unique products, embrace social platforms and influencers to grow, and lead with purpose and sustainability innovations.

8. Rise of premiumisation

Inflation and the cost of living crisis have resulted in more households switching to private-label brands, cheaper retailers and smaller, more local brands. Kantar predicts that 2024 will see more sophisticated price management as well as value-seeking consumers through premiumisation, with marketers leaning into pricing management to ensure that price and value work in sync. Successful brands will continue to become more premium, increasing their margins and maximising share across all customer segments.

9. Online search engines

Online search engines continue to grow in prominence. They were the fifth-strongest touchpoint in 2023. AI, however, is disrupting search models. Kantar maintains that search is crucial to understanding the messy middle of a brand’s customer journey, and that analysing the intent of keywords and how they are used, regardless of the digital touchpoint, is key, alongside tapping into emerging trends in the category. This is the time for brands to review their digital strategy and content to ensure that it shows up where consumers are, with authority and intention to stay ahead of the curve, says Kantar.

10. Retail goes into the ad business

As retail media becomes essential for engaging shoppers, nearly half of all marketers globally say they intend to increase their budget in retail media, according to Kantar’s Media Reactions 2023 report. A retail media network is an advertising business that a retailer sets up to sell advertising space across the retailer’s owned properties and paid media. Kantar says that in 2024, media buyers and sellers need media-agnostic, independent measurement to support proof of channel performance and to create better advertising experiences, with third-party measurement playing a key part in the development of retail media.

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