Marketing in the Next 5 Years: 4 Ways Retailers and Brands Can Future-Proof Their Strategies

Two women shopping at mall

Over the next five years, the marketing landscape is set to undergo significant changes that will impact how brands engage with consumers. From the emergence of Generation Z and their unique media consumption habits to the rise of data privacy concerns and the need for independent media measurement, marketers must adapt their strategies to stay ahead of the curve.

In this article, we’ll explore key trends that will shape the marketing industry and provide actionable advice for marketers looking to future-proof their businesses.

Trend #1: The Emergence of Generation Z

The emergence of Generation Z (Gen Z) will require a new marketing approach because of how they differ from previous generations. Gen Z has purchasing power of $44 billion and influences $600 billion of family spending. With their buying power only growing, knowing how to reach and speak to this audience is critical for future-proofing growth.

Their media consumption preferences are unique compared to other generations, with Gen Z spending 5 minutes per day streaming on average and preferring the entertainment/variety genre of content because they also watch shorter-form content like TikTok and Instagram Reels. They are also the first mobile and socially native generation, and Instagram, TikTok, and music streaming services occupy a more significant percentage of their media diet than other age groups.

Additionally, Gen Zers are more diverse than millennials, lean more progressive, value realistic and relatable content, and have high expectations for the brands they invest their money in.

How to Prepare For This Trend

How can you successfully reach Gen Z consumers? Follow these steps.

Invest in the Right Platforms

Since Gen Zers prefer mobile-first platforms and interactive content, brands focused on creating content that resonates with this demographic with a diversified platform strategy that incorporates emerging platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, will win out.

Emphasize Diversity and Relatability

Gen Zers are more racially and ethnically diverse than millennials (50% of Gen Z identifies as BIPOC). They lean more progressive, value realistic, relatable content and have high expectations for the brands they invest their time and money into. That said, brands need to be cautious of the claims they make; Gen Z is known to do their own research to ensure brands are practicing what they preach. If a brand wants to relate to Gen Z, they will first need to know and own their values with a strong culture that they can make publicly available.

Incorporate Influencer Marketing

44% of Gen Z makes purchases based on recommendations from influencers, while only 26% of the general population have bought something an influencer has suggested, according to Marketing Dive. Unsurprisingly, Gen Z has their own unique preferences for how they engage with influencers. This can be seen with the recent rise of “de-influencing” — a trend where influencers are encouraging their followers not to buy something. Gen Z, growing up in a socially native world, has learned to see through the perfectly curated advertising on their feeds and crave authenticity. Aligning with creators that are seen as authentic and trustworthy will be key.

Trend #2: Harmonizing Media Measurement

Harmonizing media measurement will continue to be a challenge for marketers. With the demise of user-level tracking and third-party data access, the rise of data privacy, cookie deprecation, walled gardens and black box solutions has made it challenging to understand omnichannel performance and justify the value of media efficacy. Marketers are racing to develop systems of measurement that are independent of platforms and allow them to adapt to these new realities.

How to Prepare for This Trend

So, how do you harmonize your media measurement? Here are some suggestions.

Explore Different Marketing KPIs

For established brands with years of data, media mix modeling (MMM) can deliver meaningful analysis at a high level, but when marketers need more granularity and ongoing insights at a tactical level, MMM has significant limitations. Independent incrementality experiments, such as geo-matched market testing or first-party audience split testing, can connect advertising tactics to business metrics in a statistically sound way that helps remove platform reporting bias. Mapping media’s influence to data from the business transaction system of record provides advertisers with a read on the incremental contribution of media at the channel, campaign or ad set level.

Make First-Party Data a Priority

You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again: Focus on first-party data. The data is only good if it’s usable and legal.  Keeping collecting and utilizing first-party data, such as data from your website or CRM, to gain a better understanding of your audience and their behavior. Check in now to make sure your data is clean, structured and undergoes scheduled hygiene and enhancement routines. 

Next, be sure your data collection and measurement practices are compliant, stay up-to-date with privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA, and consider partnering with a data privacy expert or legal counsel to ensure that you’re following best practices and mitigating risks.

Trend #3: Data Clean Rooms for Privacy-Compliant Advertising

Data clean rooms are online platforms where companies can safely share data with advertisers without violating user privacy. Data clean rooms enable advertisers to leverage the data they already manage to enhance advertising efficiencies at scale while layering on additional data from third-party sources in a privacy-compliant manner. Per Gartner, 80% of advertisers with media budgets of $1 billion or more will have set up a data clean room by the end of this year.

How To Get Started With Data Clean Rooms

If you haven’t set up a clean room just yet, here are three actionable steps on how to get started with data clean rooms, assessing if you need one, where to get one and which might be right for your organization:

1. Determine Your Data Sharing Needs

Assess the specific data sets that you would like to share and the types of insights you hope to gain. Think about your present and future needs as you work through this exercise.

2. Research Available Data Clean Room Providers

Evaluate different data clean room providers to identify the one that best meets your organization’s needs. Look at factors such as the provider’s privacy compliance measures, security protocols and ease of use. Also, consider partnering with an expert who has successfully implemented data clean rooms for organizations with similar needs.

3. Evaluate Implementation and Integration

Once you’ve identified a data clean room provider, evaluate the implementation and integration process. Consider factors such as the time and resources required to set up the clean room, the level of technical expertise required and the ongoing maintenance and support required to keep the clean room running smoothly.

Trend #4: Retail Media Networks (RMNs) Are On the Rise

Amazon has been very successful in this space and is anticipated to generate $34.59 billion this year. Walmart has also gotten into the game, generating advertising revenues of $2.7 billion in 2022. The landscape to monetize first-party data is growing, and the RMN landscape is evolving quickly.

How to Build a Retail Media Network

Building an RMN requires a solid technological foundation. While many businesses may already have some of the necessary components, others may need to build them from scratch. It’s important to avoid a fragmented tech stack that can lead to data loss, so make sure all your basics are covered first:

  • Customer data management platform
  • Demand-side platform (DSP)
  • Ad server
  • Data management platform
  • Content management system (CMS)
  • Analytics platform

But creating a successful RMN requires more than just technology. Understanding consumer behavior and preferences is crucial, and leveraging data and analytics to deliver personalized, relevant advertising messages is key to success.

While building an RMN is complex, with the right technology and understanding of consumer behavior, it can yield significant benefits for businesses.

Winning in a Fast-Changing World: Set Your Marketing Up for Long-Term Success

Here’s the bottom line: There’s no better time than right now to set your marketing efforts up for long-term success. In today’s world of lightning-fast platform changes and constantly shifting consumer sentiment, future-proof your strategies so you can stay winning.

For more insights into ways to increase your profits and appeal to today’s consumers, explore why CTV advertising makes sense for retailers and brands or dive into our contextual targeting guide.