Marketing in Times of Singularity

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About a month ago I was asked to supply an article for the Ukrainian «Business» magazine. In a short essay I had to reflect on the obscure topics of the Future of Marketing. Would there be brands in 2031? What instruments CMO’s would have at that time? And aren’t we all supposed to be dead in December 2012 how different will the consumer be? This is when I realized that I haven’t written anything like this for a while. The future that I was predicting in Top Ten Trends in Marketing Innovation was about to happen now. However, 2031 was still a longer shot, so I gathered that I can let my imagination fly free.

At Futurelab, we often say that in an ideal world there would be no need for advertising: companies would make such great products and have such happy employees, that the word of mouth alone would be enough marketing. I am now confident enough to say that current societal and economic trends show that we might reach this by 2030. Here are some of the signals that make me hope for that:

Customization & personalization

With the amounts of data we are going to amass, it will be easy to make our purchases suit only for us. Behavioral studies, neuromarketing and gamification will be kings of the mountain. Our pizza place will know that my kid is allergic to mushrooms, and our travel agent will know that I can only have vacation in August, and my wife prefers Asian destinations. And if I agree to be informed about new products, the message about that mini-helicopter will be delivered to me only in time and place when I am open and ready to perceive it: in a jam to e-car charging station.

Power to the people

Internet made us all equal, and production costs fall every year. So why buy someone else’s brand if you can make your own? No more pain of not being able to find shoes to match a new dress: you design it to order it from a mass producer, and have it delivered to you in 1 day.  And if your friends like your style, you can design and make shoes for them as well, and they in return will happily help you promote your creative talent. More people loved it, and you are opening an online store? Here, you just made yourself a brand manager! And expect people from Zappo`s to knock at your door soon: they would want to buy your brand, alongside with tens of thousands of other small private trademarks across the world.

Even more: companies may withdraw from defining the new brands, and launch a product into test-markets, waiting till consumers try it, discuss it and create its story by themselves. Because even nowadays a brand is what the consumers think, and not what a brand manager wants it to be.

Green and honest

Good for the planet, good for me, good for the society. We will take a lot more responsibility about the environment, and that will make us reduce buying and increase ‘subscriptions’, leasing and sharing. Like houses and cars we will pay for an ongoing service, not an individual good.  We will subscribe to a ‘home entertainment centre’, where we will the latest and greatest electronics every year – and ours then are refurbished for the next consumer with a cheaper subscription. With the help of services like Spotify, piracy will be virtually gone

The Fabricator

Bringing all of these trends together is the 3D printing world. While we see the first versions of this today, with the possibility to print your own shoes or even a new jawbone, in the future we will for many products only be downloading printing patterns instead of buying physical product. So our MakerBot RepRap7 will print a new mobile phone for us with an Apple Design and a Samsung Interior.

As for me, in 2031 I will be 65, hopefully retired and enjoying life, telling stories about bad old 00’s  to my followers through holographic mindbursts, enjoying a nice pint of Stefan Kolle © beer.