Year end is usually dedicated to evaluations, analyzing trends in Marketing and business, and making predictions for the year to come. We as Marketers need to be aware of what is happening around us and evaluate the impact of these changes on our strategy. That being said I try to avoid predicting the future.

Below are some trends I am sure you are already noticing, that will continue in 2012 and beyond:

Brands will face increase pressure from low-priced competitors and store labels.

There is no doubt about it, competition is and will continue to be fierce, no matter the market, product or distribution channel . Barriers to entry into most categories are very low due to globalization and technological advances. As a result established brands are facing pressure from two directions: competitors who are able to replicate their product at a much lower cost and distribution partners who are becoming more powerful in the supply chain mix and will continue to launch private brands in order to maximize profits. A solid differentiation strategy is the key to survival.

Social media will be even more fragmented.

This is one of the trends in Marketing that is difficult to predict. No question that social media has its merits in building a loyal audience. The challenge marketers face is keeping up to date with the changes that seem to be happening overnight. Last year building your brand’s Facebook page was the “the thing to do”. Now there’s Google +. Next year apparently Pinterest, a social bookmarking site that focuses on images, will be the next big thing. I miss those times when socializing meant going out for a beer.

Some traditional communication channels will become obsolete.

I am thinking television, radio and the daily newspaper. I recently received the Toronto Star newspaper as part of a direct campaign. It’s as thick as a book and weights a ton. It just doesn’t make sense to take the time to find and read what interests you. Why spend your marketing communication dollars or promoting something that is just not relevant anymore? The same with television as we know it. I cancelled my satellite TV account about one year ago and have no regrets. With the explosion of options to see the content you want, when you want, without being disturbed by commercials, I feel more informed than ever.

Advertising agencies will have to adapt to new budgets and new client requirements.

Marketing communication is evolving, and so will the traditional “full service agency”. Marketers are asked for better results, faster and with less money.  Many of them are working with specialist firms, who are usually easier to deal with and more cost competitive. As a result the agencies will have to adapt to the new reality. Instead on keeping full time employees they too use part time specialists, employed on a project basis. Most of them will have to streamline their services in order to remain competitive.

“Full-time employees” will be replaced by “project partners”.

The days when employees spend their entire career with one company working regular hours will soon be gone. The notion of “full-time job” will be replaced by work that gets done at different times and places. “Workplace freedom”, “work-life balance”, “flexibility” are the new trends that employers have to adapt to. Generation “Y” demands flexible hours, telecommuting, and serious motivation. Getting the work done will be what matters, rather that where or when it’s done. Those changes will affect other familiar concepts such as “career path”, and “job security”.

As always, I value your opinion. What trends in Marketing (or business) are you noticing, and how do they affect your brand? Please feel free to share them in the Comments section below.

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