The world is changing fast. 2021 saw marketers scrambling to tackle multiple lockdowns, regulatory and privacy changes, as well as fundamental shifts in consumer behavior.
2022 is set to bring in new developments which will affect the way we build our brands, market our products, and engage with our customers. To help prepare you for what’s to come, here’s our list of the top three brand marketing trends to look out for in 2022.
1. Purpose and Values Will Become Even More Essential
Over the past few years, there has been a shift towards brands becoming more purpose-driven. Brand purpose is not just nice to have, it is essential for growth — as 77% of customers buy from brands who share their values.
Sustainability has gone from green to mainstream, with sustainable products generating more sales than ones that are perceived as non-sustainable. 66% of people say that sustainability is important when buying products, and younger generations especially will not hesitate to boycott brands whose practices they disagree with.
Brands are – finally – starting to become more inclusive and feature more diverse models in their campaigns and creative content. With the COVID-19 pandemic #blacklivesmatter and #metoo movements, calls for social justice have become louder.
Consumers have started holding brands even more accountable, and the shift towards ethical consumption and more mindful purchasing habits shows no signs of slowing down.
In 2022, brands will need to embrace corporate social responsibility to build and retain consumer trust or risk falling victim to cancel culture. This includes sustainability, diversity, and ethical supply chain practices — as well as pursuing a clear brand mission that reflects a higher purpose than simply selling products that people use.
Purpose and values need to be on your radar when crafting your marketing strategy and messaging for 2022. In fact, 45% of marketers plan to increase their investment in corporate social responsibility next year.
2. Content is Still King
Content will continue to be a powerful way for marketers to engage with their audiences and build brand awareness, trust, and affinity in 2022. Next year will see an emergence of new formats and creative tactics.
Here are some key changes to be aware of when using content in your brand marketing in 2022:
Online and offline content will blend and merge
The boundaries between online and offline content are blurring and next year will become almost seamless.
Already in 2021, brands like Nespresso are putting social media influencers on billboards, while others are sharing photos of their print catalog in their Instagram story. Is that digital or offline content? Technically, it’s both — and so long as it’s engaging, it doesn’t really matter.
Brands who want to win at content in 2022 will be those who leverage synergies across channels to engage and inspire consumers in new, creative ways.
Furthermore, going forward, there will be an even greater focus on providing consumers with authentic, meaningful content that enriches their lives and demonstrates the values behind your brand. Translation? Create content that truly connects with your target audience.
Video isn’t going anywhere
By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than in 2017.
Video has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. With the massive shift to digital during the pandemic, video uploads increased 80% year-over-year in 2020.
While video has always been popular with consumers, marketers were slower to adapt and find the resources. Now, though, marketers have fully leaned into leveraging video across the entire marketing funnel, from awareness to conversion.
According to Hubspot, video has been the number one content type for two years in a row, ahead of blogs and infographics. Going forward, the focus will be on snackable, bite-size video content.
TikTok brought short-form video to fame and, now, this uniquely compelling format is booming in popularity across Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. From big-time celebrities to micro-influencers, video has become a force to be reckoned with.
This is good news for marketers, as short-form video trend content offered the second-highest ROI in 2021. Brands will want to make sure that short-duration, high-impact videos are part of their content calendar in 2022.
Shoppable content will change how brands use social media.
On social media, shoppable content will be a key opportunity for marketers to offer better purchasing experiences and make the customer journey more seamless. 43% of Gen Z and 49% of Millennials have purchased products or services directly from social media platforms — the age of social commerce has arrived.
Shoppable content includes posts, images, videos, and ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. Consumers click on the shoppable content and can make a purchase almost instantly — without leaving the app.
Turning social posts into shoppable content streamlines the path to purchase and enables users to purchase from your brand at the moment when they are most inspired to do so — which is often helped by utilizing influencer marketing. In the US, social commerce sales are set to top $100 million by 2023.
3. Hybrid Experiences Enable Brands to Engage and Delight Consumers
Think experiential marketing online and offline — or omnichannel marketing on steroids.
The pandemic left its mark on almost every industry. Marketing teams were forced to find online alternatives to in-person events, store openings, and trade shows.
While some places around the world are almost back to normal, others still face very strict regulations and social distancing requirements. Even when businesses do finally open up, the world has fundamentally changed.
Some people are longing for the return of big gatherings and can’t wait for the next after-work networking event. Others have found that they prefer to take part in these activities from the comfort of their own home — at least, some of the time.
Brands will need to balance different consumer needs and offer high-quality brand experiences both virtually and in person.
So-called “hybrid events” take place in-person and are accessible virtually for those who cannot or do not wish to attend physically. Hybrid events will mean investing in tech and other digital platforms to ensure that virtual attendees feel involved.
For an even more immersive experience, leading brands will be looking into technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to take online customer experiences to the next level.
Technologies like AR and VR have been around for a while, but adoption has been slow. With Facebook’s announcement of the Metaverse in October 2021, these immersive technologies are expected to finally become more mainstream.
According to Facebook, 3D spaces in the Metaverse will allow users to “socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what we can imagine”.
Whether your brand is ready for the Metaverse or not, one thing is for sure: some of your customers will be willing and able to engage with you in person, and others will not. To win over consumers and boost brand loyalty, businesses will need to find data-driven ways to cater to both.
The way we live, work, socialize, and make purchasing decisions has changed and will continue to evolve. There’s still a great deal of uncertainty, and international markets are emerging from the pandemic at different rates.
In 2022 and beyond, brand marketers will need to show empathy and flexibility in order to meet evolving consumer needs with their marketing efforts.
In a world where trends are constantly in flux, customers are our north star. Putting them first — whether that’s by creating engaging video content on social, putting on hybrid events, or educating them on how your brand upholds their values — is the way to succeed at brand marketing in 2022.