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2018: #6into18

As the marketing landscape becomes increasingly sophisticated and consumers ever more discerning this poses interesting challenges for professional communicators.  Clients increasingly come to us for advice on how to navigate and make their message heard in this fast changing environment.  Frequency alone is not enough, organisations of all shapes and sizes need to be innovative and embrace new techniques and channels to stay ahead.  Grayling has launched #6into18, our annual overview of the six top trends that we expect to influence clients in 2018.

Take a Stand: The lines between business, politics and culture are ever more blurred, and organisations can no longer sit on the fence as consumers demand clarity, commitment and action.  Marketers and communicators need to harness this trend with authenticity. Think Starbucks’ global commitment to hire 10,000 refugees by 2022 or Michael O’Leary’s support for the EU, evidenced by Ryainair’s Brexit special sale for expats.

Urban Vision:  Marketers will increasingly focus on global ‘mega cities’, and their fast-growing affluent populations, anchoring their brands in iconic spaces, and engaging directly with culturally-savvy audiences that can in turn reach and influence others.  Brands like Asics are at the forefront of this, creating flagship stores with DJ booths and juice bars in major cities including London.

Story Time: From advertising serials and Instagram stories to fictional classics and mixed reality experiences, brands are increasingly using narratives in new ways, to capture attention and build a loyal following. Companies need bravery to stop talking about themselves and let other, more authentic voices take the spotlight on their behalf.  GE Healthcare’s 'Heroines of Health' documentary is a good example of this.

Test and Learn: As the pace of change increases, organisations of all sizes are assuming more of a start-up mentality.  Crowdsourced ideas and rapid innovation are the order of the day, with live testing and beta operations becoming the norm for beverage brands, retailers, media companies, and even banks.

Brand Play: Everything becomes a game, with smart organisations driving purpose and personality through every customer interaction, delivering the unexpected and turning the mundane into a game, to activate and reward consumers.  Think Pepsi’s competition on TaskRabbit to make the unbelievable real – giving people an "Extra Hour," in their day from TaskRabbit’s labour force.

Attention Economy: In the swipe-right age of digital overload, where attention is increasingly scarce and savvy consumers can opt out of adverts and filtering the content clutter, brands must invest in rich targeted content with real value if they want to cut through.