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Predictions for 2017: Change Means Turbulent Time for Marketers

 

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Tidings of comfort and joy? If only. That’s the takeaway from Forrester Research’s recently-issued predictions about what 2017 will hold for marketing — and particularly for marketing executives.

 

Here’s one cold, hard, bluntly-stated assertion from Forrester’s analysis of what’s ahead in the new year: “We predict that CEOs will exit at least 30% of their CMOs for not mustering the blended skill set needed to drive digital business transformation, design exceptional personalized experiences, and propel growth.”

 

All we can say to that is “Yikes!” However, the new insights go beyond giving marketing and market research professionals something to worry about for the sake of simply scaring them. The predictions may get them thinking about the kinds of actions needed to throw a life preserver around sales revenues amid today’s dizzying churn of technological change.

 

The report is “2017 Predictions: Dynamics That Will Shape The Future in the Age of the Customer.” You can download it from Forrester’s website, but here are six of its key insights about how the speed of technology has changed the consumer expectations that marketers need to get ahead of — or else.

    • Those crazy Millennials and their famous fickleness? They’ve been crazy like a fox. They keep their options open because it’s so easy to comparison shop for myriad brands and consumer experiences. It’s a completely rational and savvy consumer behavior, given how easy smartphones make it to compare competing products and services.
    • Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are becoming more like Millennials in the ways they access and exploit information. They’re trusting their ability to browse for options instead of staying with brand loyalties that marketers previously took for granted. After all, they’ve got smartphones, too.
    • Brands, products, and services have virtually no margin for error: “Today’s customers reward or punish companies based on a single experience — a single moment in time….Customers who experience disgust, anger, or a feeling of neglect during a brand interaction are about eight times more likely not to forgive that company.”
    • With consumers holding so many cards, and their preferences so changeable, Forrester predicts brands will face up to 50% more “revenue risk” in 2017.
    • The only choice, Forrester says, is for businesses to change rapidly to keep up with consumer expectations. It recommends experimentation to harness new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality to enrich the consumer experience. On the management side, Forrester says new approaches will demand rapid changes in corporate structures and company cultures.
    • Forrester sums up its message with this: “In 2017, a few companies will make important inroads on what drives consumer decisions. This is a first step in understanding emotion as both a descriptive and predictive measure to guide experience design and govern operations.”

Scary? Yes, but change is always scary. The thing is to allow it to get you going, instead of scaring you stiff.