My Marketing Predictions for 2021

This weird year is coming to a close. The need for renewal, to turn the page, and start fresh was never more present in us. We can’t wait to say goodbye to 2020, with the optimism that 2021 will be different. But what will 2021 offer to marketers? I’ll join the herd of future tellers and share my predictions, hoping that Scott Galloway will learn from me and revise his predictions. He actually had a poor record in 2020.

  1. People will ignore ads – nothing new, but something to treasure. No real person wants to see your advertisement before their YouTube video starts; very few want to “dive” into your 3-minute long-form content about your brand purpose, yet most will accept to be entertained if they decide to pay attention. Make me smile, make me cry, move me, entertain me!
  2. Marketers will talk to themselves – we will continue to judge our work output by the number of engagements on Twitter or, in rare cases, AdAge or MarketingWeek mentions. We will enjoy talking in our bubble more than ever, as we’ll probably spend most of the year homeworking again, away from the real world. It was never more important to remember: we are not the consumer.
  3. The TV set will not die – or will it fail again and resurrect while Digital platforms move to capture our attention on our more giant TV screens. I now watch more YouTube on my TV than I do on my Mobile, so TV as a piece of furniture isn’t dead. What could die is the concept of scheduled programs interrupted by ads, something I could not explain to my 5-year-old son. 
  4. Marketers want to become more digital-savvy – when everything we do all day is staring at a digital monitor, sending digital letters, joining digital Zoom meetings, and planning digital holiday celebrations. We probably should identify another milestone to look up to since digital is so 2010s.
  5. Brand equity is back on the agenda – Now that we squeezed (or got squeezed in) the programmatic value chain with no apparent next gain in view, we will turn back to our brand proposition’s equity. But how do you measure the impact of a single Social Ad on your brand equity? If someone knows and trusts the method, please give me a call.

Have an insightful, consumer-centric, multichannel 2021!

Photo by Dan DeAlmeida on Unsplash

How to Talk to Kids About Working in Advertising

Let’s get real, outside of our marketing bubble; the real humans don’t admire advertising as much as we think. For them, advertising is that annoying video that interrupts their favorite YouTube home-gym workout; it’s the display banner that keeps showing them the electric screwdriver already bought on Amazon last week, or the desired live sports TV interruption that helps them replenish their drink or chips bowl without missing a goal. That’s the opponent we have when our families are asking us to talk about our work. And with small kids, it gets even worse.

My 5-year-old son was super excited initially, knowing his daddy works for M&M’s candies. Then disappointments hit him one by one when he discovered I don’t work in the dream-like chocolate factory, nor I help baking his favorite candy or drive my car to get chocolate delivered to our local supermarket. Working from home for an entire year revealed my real job to him.

Yes, son, daddy is working in advertising. Every day, daddy is speaking with some people with weird headphones on Zoom about the annoying videos that you discovered how to skip on YouTube when you were three years old. But instead of making them shorter or fewer, so you can watch Paw Patrol easier, he is finding innovative ways to make you watch one more second, to seduce you with a shiny candy taste or a funny new joke. He does this, hoping that you will remember that candy one day when you will have to make a buying decision or begging for candy.

Yes, daddy is not baking the real m&m’s, but he helps you discover the new flavor you don’t know you wanted: custard m&m’s, anyone? By talking with lots of people, showing them lots of candy, and asking them questions, daddy understands what they want. That way, Daddy is telling the factory to make more Yellow m&m’s instead of Brown m&m’s because he knows most people like them more.

And lastly, daddy promotes candy to be more popular so that all people will choose m&m’s over another chocolate. And this way, daddy helps the families of the m&m’s factory colleague, the chocolate delivery driver, and the others he interacts with to have a more peaceful end of the year, knowing that they will come back to their much-needed work place in 2021.

How do you talk to your kids about working in Advertising?

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

Are Product Line Extensions the Best Strategy to Grow Your Core Brand?

A couple of days ago, I read a fantastic New York Times piece on the weird jargon of Modern Marketing. If you manage to pass their paywall, you can find it here. I recommend it and challenge you to eliminate one word from your marketing vocabulary at the end of this year. Will it be “Snackable content” or “Storytelling” or “Humaning.” I will try to move away from using the word CORE and go back to the more simple BRAND. Before doing that, I wanted to share some ideas on our marketer’s constant struggle to position different line extensions or sub-products in consumers’ minds when at best, they can only remember the master brand.

A typical growth strategy in fast-moving goods is to piggy-bank on a brand name and launch another variant with a twist (a different flavor, smell, better feature(s), etc.). We call that line extension, or more fancy: product innovation. The purpose of this launch is to get some incremental sales or positively cannibalize the current offer at a higher price, or to create something that you can talk about with retailers and with customers. In some categories, not launching innovations is similar to breaking the conversation with your retail partners. They want it for novelty, promotional appeal, and buzz. You want it to drive growth on the core brand variant. In some product categories, the competitive pressure is so high that you can’t avoid playing this game.

But, it’s always better to grow your main product, which I will no longer call CORE as of next year. In general, this is the established proposition that benefits from the scale of the supply chain and its distribution channels. It usually has also a better margin for you as a company. I firmly believe product innovation’s role is to build further the brand equity that will halo on the core – on the brand. It’s hard to acknowledge, but your customers don’t care about your innovation and all the efforts you’ve put into it. They don’t care about your brand, either. They probably are curious to try, but they don’t want to be confused and, in general, want to relate the offer to an existing memory structure.

So how can you launch an innovation that has more chances to grow your brand?

  • In communication, Make sure the line extension voice belongs to the brand, and you use the brand’s distinctive assets at maximum.
  • In pricing, be careful with undercutting your current price levels with too much promotional activity or a lower permanent price for your innovation.
  • Stop believing that your customers will fall in love and/or marry your product innovation. At best, they will think your brand did a cool thing.

Happy to hear your views on using line extensions to grow brands.

Photo by Pedro Durigan on Unsplash