Hanlon’s Predictions for 2022: Marketing Trends to Plan for Now

Disruption was a buzzword in marketing and many other industries a few years back. The idea that emerging technologies would completely reshape how we communicated, interacted, shopped, and consumed content was a new and exciting concept. 

In 2022, disruption is the order of the day. Things are constantly in flux and changing faster all the time. We aren’t surprised by disruption — we expect it. That has made it that much more important to keep a close eye on the horizon. When you know big changes are coming, the smartest move is to get ahead of them. 

As savvy marketers, our role is to spot the trends, analyze the data, and craft strategies that position the brands we manage to excel in the market to come. With that in mind, here are our top predictions for 2022:

TikTok and short-form video will have their biggest year yet

Since hitting the scene in 2018, TikTok has seen nothing but continued growth. What was once just a quirky app where teens shared lip-sync videos has become a massive global platform whose rapid expansion in both users and influence is starting to worry the established social networks.

With over 73 million active monthly users in the U.S. and a degree of virality that almost ensures its content spreads to both legacy and digital channels, TikTok’s easily digestible videos are now shared well beyond the confines of their own platform. They make the rounds on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, even the local news.

Video offers a powerful and visually compelling outlet for individuals and brands to share their passion and their expertise.

And while they are still primarily created and consumed by younger people, even that limitation is fading. More and more people over 40 are trying out TikTok — and its clones, namely Shorts on YouTube and Reels on Instagram.

All of these formats are part of a larger trend towards more video content online. Video offers a powerful and visually compelling outlet for individuals and brands to share their passion and their expertise.

It’s been several years since mobile overtook the desktop for media consumption and video content is basically everywhere now, so this trend is only set to see further adoption this year and in the years to come.

Privacy will be an even more important brand differentiator

Apple’s announcement that it was making third-party tracking opt-in rather than opt-out on the iPhone was a massive wakeup call for marketers and advertising platforms. An endless supply of readily available consumer data to power fine targeting was being cut off. 

Users, relishing the chance to regain some of the privacy they formerly relinquished, said no to tracking by a huge majority. 96-percent of U.S. users asked not to be tracked when the feature was first released.

Google also recently announced its Android mobile OS was following Apple’s lead on tracking.

Hanlon’s Predictions for 2022: Marketing Trends to Plan for Now

However, the initial rush to opt out of all third-party tracking may have died down some. Users discovered that zero tracking meant the loss of personalization and greater exposure to irrelevant and low quality content. 

The future will be closer to a middle ground, with users balancing their need for privacy against their desire for customized experiences. Gartner’s Strategic Planning Assumptions for 2022 forecasts that the opt-out rate will be as low as 65-percent in 2023.

Though we won’t be going back to the days of automatically opting-in to tracking everywhere, users will retain the option to select who they want let into their devices — and only the brands and publishers they trust will make it onto that exclusive list. 

Users select who they want let into their devices — and only the brands and publishers they trust will make it onto that exclusive list.

That’s why it will be so important for marketers to focus on authentic brand connections. When users have the power to easily shut out anyone that loses their confidence, brand managers have to ensure they never betray the trust of their audience.

Brand values and experiences will get more focus from consumers than products and features

Obviously, the classic components of a marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion) are still fundamental to generating revenue, but in 2022, consumers are looking deeper at the companies and brands they interact with. They don’t just want a great product at a great price — they want it from a company and a brand that aligns with their values and preferred modes of communication.

It’s a trend that has continued to expand unabated for several years. 72-percent of U.S. consumers now say it’s “more important than ever” to buy from companies that reflect their values.

The fact is, only a tiny percent of consumers are in the market to make a purchase at any one time. That means marketers have to generate positive brand associations and stay top of mind year round, so that when the opportunity for a conversion arises, they are the brand in their target market’s feed and holding a favorable position relative to the competition.

To do that, brands will need to invest in continually growing their awareness and building active communities that are following them. The winners in that kind of marketplace won’t necessarily have the longest feature-list, they’ll be the best storytellers with the most consistent brand identity and the best able to educate their audience not just about their products but about themselves, their priorities, and their impact on the world.

B2B will look a lot more like B2C

The Amazon Effect is everywhere in 2022. All consumers, including businesses making purchases, expect a high quality, digitally-mediated experience. That trend was accelerated by the pandemic and the shift away from in-person events that were mainstays of B2B marketing like live demos and tradeshows.

Even after the pandemic subsides and experiential marketing makes its comeback, a digital-first strategy will remain an essential brand building tool for B2B firms. Social media, in particular, will take on greater importance in lead generation and nurturing. In 2021, 83-percent of B2B firms leveraged social to boost their brand and expand their audience, a year-over-year increase of 60-percent.

Brands will need to invest in continually growing their awareness and building active communities that are following them.

But, just realizing it’s time to take digital channels more seriously can’t deliver results without a strategic plan. The B2B brands that outperform their rivals will maintain a consistent connection online with relevant content that expresses thought leadership in their industry and thoroughly differentiated branding.

One way that will look different than in years past, is that B2B brands will adopt a persona that looks less like a salesperson and more like an educator. Through their blogs, social media posts, explainer videos, and other instructional content, they will promote themselves in more subtle ways that advance the buyer’s journey indirectly, not through hard sales tactics.

Key Takeaways

The digital revolution is accelerating, customer expectations have never been higher, switching costs have never been lower, and brand loyalty has never been harder to generate. Keeping up with the latest developments in marketing and continually growing brand awareness through authentic digital outreach are absolute brand essentials. 

Any brand that tries to buck these trends is going to be left behind.

 

Hanlon works at the very cutting-edge of strategic, analytically-vetted brand development. Get in touch with us today to learn how our expertise can boost your marketing efforts.