The future of marketing — Quantum approaches

Christopher Lowe

Aug 27, 2021

Is your brand’s marketing as effective as it could be? Marketing campaigns don’t work like they used to. Most “traditional” or “typical” marketing methods are dead on arrival for consumers — even if your brand is tech savvy and has an online presence! But why? The future of marketing requires new approaches, and more importantly, an understanding of where we’ve already been in the marketing world. Read this Insider blog, featuring advice from Mastercard’s CMO & CCO, to learn what you need to take your brand’s marketing to the next level.

Table of Contents
  1. New landscape, new approaches

  2. Disruptions in marketing

  3. Emotional marketing

  4. The Internet and data-driven marketing

  5. Brand loyalty is dead

  6. How to adapt to disruptions in the marketing world

New landscape, new approaches

We live in the future. AI, drones, 3D printing, smart devices, and wearables are all amazing technological developments many might have considered impossible not long ago. There’s no doubt these incredible technologies have changed how we live. But change is a disruption and disruptions can permanently alter the status quo. For marketers, changes in technology alter what effective marketing is, and how it can be implemented.

Because of these changes “…marketing that I see today, it is absolutely breaking down,” says Raja Rajamannar. Past marketing methods simply don’t work anymore.

Rajamannar is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Quantum Marketing and is Mastercard’s CMO and CCO. His book’s title was inspired by the concept that when scientists discovered more complex and nuanced physics, they needed new terms and methods to deal with their subatomic discoveries. Because of today’s advances in technology and their effects on society, marketers must also find new methods for their companies to survive and thrive.

Rajamannar shared his thoughts on the future of marketing, and the need for more “quantum” approaches, at Insider’s RESHAPE 2021 Summit. “Change” isn’t the best word for the effect technology has had on the marketing world, especially lately. Disruption is the word Rajamannar uses—and there’s little doubt we’re living through another major disruption. The future of successful marketing, Rajamannar believes, is contradictory to what most would consider traditional marketing practices. However, now isn’t the first time the marketing world has seen such a major shakeup.

Disruptions in marketing

Rajamannar asserts there have been four major “disruptions” in marketing—each tied to advances in technology and sociological shifts. Understanding these major shifts and how they’ve affected marketing is vital for brands to achieve effective marketing in the future.

In his RESHAPE 2021 interview, Raja Rajamannar explained each of the major disruptions to marketing throughout history. Then he offered advice to aid companies and marketers in best adapting to the changing landscape.

Rajamannar pointed out that in the days of antiquity, the original and most popular marketing strategy was the “rational” approach. This approach focuses on the product. What is the product’s quality? How is it packaged? How will it fulfill a need? These questions lay out a path, a clear chain of logic, for the consumer to conclude a particular product is best for them. The methods inside logic-based marketing are still popular and important today, but Rajamannar says there’s a major flaw in using this method alone: humans are not rational.

While human beings can make rational decisions, at our core, we are emotional beings. The first largest shift in the world of marketing came about as marketers realized the power of emotional appeal. Emotional marketing is extremely effective.

Emotional marketing

Emotion focused marketing aims to evoke emotional responses in consumers. Rajamannar points to one of his company’s most successful, and one of the world’s most successful, marketing endeavors: Mastercard’s “priceless” campaign.

The “priceless” campaign didn’t talk about Mastercard’s product. It didn’t mention rates, protections, benefits, or a single feature of the product. In fact, it avoided mentioning the product almost entirely. Rather, it focused on those little “priceless” moments everyone experiences throughout life. These priceless moments were things like graduations, birthdays, and parents experiencing “firsts” with children. These moments were the core focus of the ads. The campaign leveraged the immaterial and undefinable to imply their product was doing an excellent job in the background, not requiring mention, and kept the focus on things that made consumers feel good. These wonderful moments are then, passively, associated with the product. Rajamannar says this campaign wasn’t just successful but has remained so for over twenty-four years.

The internet and data-driven marketing

The next largest disruption to marketing was the age of the internet. Data-driven marketing has changed the marketing world. Data points are now available not only to observe and use at the macro-level but at the micro for individual consumers.

Data analytics, made possible by the internet’s advent, have allowed marketers to create tailored, personalized experiences. These customized experiences are what modern consumers expect. Why? Because the age of the internet has provided consumers the ability to consume and reach out for the products they want, ignoring all else. Think of this as the days of TV vs. the current age of content streaming. In the days programmed television reigned supreme, viewers were limited in choice and could only watch what was available on the channels they had access to. Today, consumers can choose to stream only the movies and shows they have an interest in, while ignoring everything else. Control has shifted from those creating and distributing products to those consuming them.

This massive shift in agency has hit the marketing landscape, too. Marketers must change their thinking and approaches to consumers because the factors they used to rely on are changing. Many elements marketers used to rely on are vanishing completely.

Brand loyalty is dead

The first two massive shifts in marketing assumed the existence of something companies and brands have always relied on to an extent: loyalty. Rajamannar points to the maturing of the internet age—the fourth disruption, the one we’re living in now—as an eroder of concepts like loyalty. This is due to both the growth of consumer-controlled technologies and an over-saturation of things like rewards and loyalty systems. How many rewards/loyalty cards do you have? Now how many of those businesses are you completely loyal to? Most consumers, Rajamannar concludes, see loyalty systems as a point of value—not something which demands or draws actual loyalty in a traditional sense.

How to adapt to disruptions in the marketing world

So, what can companies do to best align themselves within the current and coming technology shifts? At the RESHAPE Summit, Rajamannar recommended three things primarily.

First, education. Companies must educate their teams and their leaders about the coming technologies and their potential impacts on products and the marketing process. From a management perspective, training is key. Marketers should not only have plans to utilize the current technologies in the hands of users but plans for how upcoming technologies can be used to reach consumers.

Second, within education, companies must examine their current infrastructures. Marketers must understand that every connected device is a potential point for both commerce and marketing. For example, smart speakers and other smart devices are not only channels for consumers to place orders, but to receive recommendations via the devices AI or user interface. Companies must know how consumers use their tech and leverage that knowledge for sales and reach.

Finally, Rajamannar says marketers must pursue becoming “true general managers.” Because for marketers at any level of an organization to be most effective, they must understand how data and its corresponding analytics drive product reach and sales.

Rajamannar’s thoughts on the future of marketing clarify that an understanding of how marketing has changed is vital to understanding how it will change. This allows marketers to make the best decisions possible as they adjust their strategies. The ever-growing “internet of things” means that soon small and large businesses alike will compete on even ground—and so, the competition will be fierce. It’s up to marketers and their organizations to ensure they’re properly educated, and therefore ready, for the future.

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Christopher has a long history of driving value and creating personalized, omnichannel journeys that enhance customer experience. He's passionate about learning and development and has a keen interest in developing economies, especially ones with a lot of room for digital growth.