Staff Reporters
Jan 2, 2024

What’s hot and what’s not in 2024: The essential trend report for savvy marketers

OUTLOOK 2024: Only the most valuable insights from all the top industry reports on trends and predictions for the coming year. We look at them all so you don't have to.

What’s hot and what’s not in 2024: The essential trend report for savvy marketers
It’s another year already. Where has the time gone? 2023 was Earth’s hottest year on record; it was also the year that AI went mainstream and sadly, was a year defined by geopolitical conflict
 
What does 2024 hold in store? Well, we know it will be a tad longer as 2024 is a leap year—366 days instead of the usual 365. Let’s hope it’s good for being that extra day longer. We also know it will be a big year for sports, with the Summer Olympics in Paris this July and the UEFA European Football championship in June.
 
As for the rest… Well, as we do our best to beat those January blues, 'tis the season for industry forecasts, outlooks, and a deluge of "expert takes." As much as we love research firms and agencies working overdrive to release their latest trend predictions to set the tone for the year ahead, the sheer volume can get overwhelming.

Fortunately, our editors are on hand to sift through the technical details, highlight the crucial information, and generally do all the legwork so you don’t have to. Instead, you can just read our easy-to-digest overview that distills all the vital information from the reports into one handy outlook guide. 

This month, we'll keep stoking your curiosity with new information by providing you with a critical insight worth following daily.


WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2024

Brands overestimate consumer preferences for digital experiences at every stage of the journey
Source: Merkle's 2024 CX Imperatives
 
Despite the ubiquity and rapid evolution of digital technologies, there is still a strong need–and desire–for human interaction, especially when it comes to complex purchase processes and customer service. 
 
In a nutshell, consumers are generally looking for digital payments, but in-person support. And perhaps surprisingly, Merkle's research shows that consumers prefer to make purchases in person across many verticals, particularly retail, auto and healthcare. 
 
It’s worth noting that physical and digital channels are increasingly intertwined, and consumers typically don’t perceive a hard distinction between the two. It’s likely that even the hundred-year-old bookstore in your town has a website with digital payment options. Customers now expect seamless omnichannel experiences and are turned off when brands don’t deliver. 
 
The convenience of digital channels and spaces doesn’t preclude the consumer’s desire for human connection and support. It’s also important to recognise that technology can augment human-led interactions. As an example, AI can assist a customer service agent in quickly understanding a caller’s history with their company, thus helping to personalise the interaction. 
 
The digital and physical need to work together seamlessly to deliver an experience that makes the consumer feel valued and understood. Otherwise, the consumer will be on the receiving end of awkward, disingenuous, and discordant attempts at personalisation.
 
Consumers are in their 'slow living' era, known as ‘The Great Deceleration’
Source: VML's The Future 100: 2024
 
Consumers are slowing down their lifestyles and opting for a mindful approach to the year ahead, according to a research report from VML. As humanity undergoes a paradigm shift with identity at the heart, advances in technology are ushering in a new reality and prompting people to question what it means to be human.
 
In this new paradigm, the most successful and fastest growing brands are connected brands, as people seek emotional engagement with the brands they buy from. Data collected exclusively for ‘The Future 100: 2024’ reveals 79% of people believe ‘the role of a brand has changed over the past five years’, with the top three roles of brands to ‘make the world a better place’ (40%); ‘improve people’s health and wellbeing’ (38%); and ‘create a more positive and helpful future’ (32%).  
 
As 2024 unfolds, an intentional slowdown shifts the pace for people and businesses after years of rapid acceleration. Community and connection at scale are essential to 2024, with 67% of people agreeing that 'community is more important than one individual' and 76% believe that 'technology helps bring people together'. With most consumers looking for surprise, mystery, awe, and wonder in their lives, new experiences that engage a wide spectrum of emotions are in demand. 
 
Retail media, TikTok and the creator economy will reign supreme in 2024

As we step into 2024, the media landscape is on the cusp of ongoing transformation, building on the significant shifts we've seen in the past couple of years. The annual 'Media Budgets Survey' by Ebiquity and World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) unveils a surprising optimism among leading advertisers, with the results indicating that 60% are planning to increase their total media budgets—a stark contrast to the otherwise economic doom and gloom we're seeing forecast elsewhere. Of those surveyed, 35% say they're emphasising brand building as their key objective—both with long and short term investments.

The report also finds three major media trends that will define the opportunities and challenges of the year. One: the Retail Media sector is gaining considerable momentum, with US retail media ad spend expected to more than double between 2023 and 2027, reaching a significant $109.4 billion. This shift is driven by the considerable potential for ecommerce growth in the world's largest consumer market, fundamentally altering the dynamics of the media market.

Two: TikTok is positioning itself as a digital ad powerhouse, adopting an Amazon-like flywheel strategy that integrates advertising, commerce, and media. As per eMarketer's projections, TikTok is set to be the fastest-growing digital ad business after Walmart in 2024, fueled by its unique focus on creators.

Three: As also noted in the Trends blog below, influencer marketing is emerging as a resilient force, surpassing the growth rate of social ad spend by 3.5 times in 2024. Investments in Instagram influencers alone are projected to exceed $2 billion, indicating a perceived stronger return on marketing investment.

Additional to the above, there's also an opportunity to experiment with new social ad formats, offering a way to stand out in the  social media space. Advertisers are encouraged to measure the return on investment for these formats and adapt their strategies accordingly.

A word of caution; advertisers need to be vigilant about potential challenges in 2024, as much as opportunities. These include monitoring the rise of deepfakes and misinformation from Made For Advertising (MFA) sites during national elections, new frontiers for brand safety in Google Ads placements, and the transformative impact of generative AI on search advertising. 

Truth telling is now more of a differentiator for brands than storytelling
Source: Havas' Red Sky Predictions 2024
 
The global rise of misinformation has led to the decline of consumer trust in both government and media. As a result, consumers are also tired of brands making claims. Havas’ global annual Meaningful Brands study found that 77% think companies/brands should be transparent about their commitments and promises, but only 33% think they actually are. 
 
So much broken trust has tarnished demand for brand strategists’ old tricks, too. Storytelling is one of these tricks. When it comes to brand communications, there’s far less room today for “creative liberties” and far more responsibility to tell the truth, be accountable and be accurate in how facts are presented. Fiction might be more exciting, but in 2024, more brands will recognise they have a responsibility in how they present their stories. 
 
The role of PR and communications will no longer be about simply storytelling but truth telling, told well (and that’s the important part). Now more than ever, we need to help brands articulate, educate and facilitate to ensure they remain trusted and have maximum meaning to the stakeholders that matter. 
 
Consumers in APAC are more focused on value rather than price
Source: TikTok's Shoppertainment 2024: The Future of Commerce & Commerce
 
A majority of APAC consumers prioritise value over price, with 79% of consumers being inspired to shop by content that reveals products' value rather than discounts.
 
The report by TikTok also finds that 21% of consumers are influenced by promotions across the decision journey. This ranges from 12% in South Korea and Thailand, 27% in Japan, and as high as 41% in Indonesia. Other content factors like product benefits, reviews, demonstration, and visuals hold greater value every stage of their decision journey. Increasingly, consumers are shifting their focus from price and promotion to value instead.
 
Consumers do not want to be rushed to buy just because of discounts. They value the experience of buying as much as the purchase itself. Hence, they desire content that brings the product to life, and allows them to experience its value.
 
On content-driven video platforms, content that enables users to experience and believe in a product’s value influences purchase decisions more than simply offering competitive pricing.
 
As such, brands should focus on content formats that influence shopping across the consumer decision journey: ‘What catches their attention’, ’what they consider and evaluate’, and ‘what convinces them to buy’.
 
2024: Year of the consumer

The consumer channel landscape is poised for notable transformations in 2024, with social commerce expected to grow by 23.5%, driven primarily by the influential Gen Z and Gen Alpha demographics. This growth highlights a shift towards platforms where younger consumers spend their time. Marketplaces like Amazon continue to dominate as primary shopping destinations, reflecting their entrenched position in consumer habits.  

Concurrently, retail media advertising is anticipated to witness a 22.5% increase, fueled by advancements in measurement standards and the integration with Connected TV (CTV). This development underscores the blurred lines between digital and traditional media. 

Consumer attention is evolving rapidly, with mobile commerce set to reshape in-store shopping experiences. This trend underscores the need for retailers to enhance their mobile apps, aiming to provide more engaging and immersive experiences for customers.  

Additionally, the report points to a significant shift towards ad-free streaming services, suggesting that brands must creatively adapt to capture consumer attention in an increasingly fragmented media landscape. This could involve leveraging entertainment and content-driven strategies to engage audiences. 

Video content, particularly short-form, continues to dominate as the preferred medium for content consumption. The report highlights generative AI as an emerging trend, potentially revolutionising marketing efficiency and adoption. The growing popularity of same-day delivery services, exemplified by companies like DoorDash, indicates a consumer preference for quick and convenient shopping options, reflecting broader changes in lifestyle and expectations.


Ad spending growth levels off in 2024
Source: Emarketer's 'Advertising trends to watch in 2024'

After years of rapid growth, the digital ad market is entering a phase of more stable, modest growth in 2024. With a compound annual growth rate of 17.6% over the past 15 years, digital ad spending is expected to settle into year-over-year growth in the low double digits from 2024 onwards, indicating a mature market. 

The slow but inevitable move away from third-party cookies and mobile IDs is a critical trend. Google's plan to phase out its identifiers in 2024 has created uncertainty, with many in the industry still reliant on third-party cookies. This shift is expected to pose significant challenges for programmatic ad buyers and sellers. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a ubiquitous element in advertising. Most marketers anticipate AI to have a "serious impact" within the next two years, influencing creative ideation, media planning, and more. Generative AI is set to transform search and contextual targeting, filling gaps in deterministic consumer data and enhancing campaign measurement. 

Nielsen's decision to delay the sunset of its legacy TV currency (C3 and C7 ratings) reflects the significant changes occurring in TV ad measurement. The shift from linear to connected TV (CTV) has rendered Nielsen’s methodology obsolete, leading to the emergence of new analytics firms and measurement approaches. 

Major streaming services, including Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video, have introduced or are introducing ad-supported tiers. This change is expected to increase the inventory available for advertising, with one-third of streaming subscriptions potentially becoming ad-supported. 

As retail media ad spending grows, smaller walled gardens are expected to partner with larger counterparts to strengthen their ad businesses. Alliances formed in 2023, such as X (formerly Twitter) using Google Ad Manager, point to a trend of collaboration and consolidation among ad platforms. 


The challenges for retail media in 2024
 
Retail media is no longer just about performance marketing. It encompasses various formats like sponsored search, sponsored display, branded stores, digital instore, offsite advertising, CRM, and other media channels targeted using custom audiences from retailer first-party data.

The challenge involves setting initial standards for audiences and campaigns, especially as first-party data becomes more sophisticated. It also addresses the shift in the digital advertising ecosystem due to changes in user data access and the emergence of new operating models, including the proliferation of retail media advertising networks.

The retail media industry faces barriers in measurement and standardisation, with the need for new frameworks to focus on more than just incrementality or conversion.

The focus should be on differentiating retail media from traditional shopper marketing and recognising its broader impact. This will involve exploring new collaborative approaches in retail media across various regions.


The future of employee experience
 
Employee experiences have significantly transformed, particularly in response to the fast-paced and unpredictable market dynamics intensified by the pandemic. The digitalisation of work environments demands adaptability and responsiveness from employees, who are increasingly engaged in using advanced tools and AI and are at the forefront of client interactions and content creation.
 
This period of change challenges employees to adapt to new circumstances, calling for enhancements in skill development, cultural support, operational flexibility, and adaptation to societal shifts.

The role of talent is crucial in driving organisational growth and success, with a focus on both technological skills and empathy. Employees require flexibility and resilience as they navigate new technologies and changing work conditions. Each employee's unique context, including work preferences and mental health, must be considered to foster strong performance.

The future of work envisions greater autonomy, self-awareness, and empathy supported by intuitive technology tools. Companies that create innovative, integrated, and inclusive employee experiences will be well-positioned to succeed in the evolving work landscape.


In-housing set for rapid and continued growth at major multinationals
 
WFA research finds that 66% of brands now have in-house agencies, with 21% actively considering one. 70% already have strategic capabilities in-house and many plan to shift new tasks from external agencies over the next three years.
 
The research suggests that many are also planning to expand the range and scale of their in-house operations. Over the next three years, 56% of respondents expect to move more digital production from external agencies to in-house, 33% of respondents expect to offline production, 22% expect to transfer more data strategy work and 11% plan to move more data management and insight and analytics tasks over. 
 
Online planning and buying are also indicated as additional areas of future growth, with 83% of respondents expecting to handle some social media buying in-house over the next three years (up from 37% right now), 67% planning to add social media planning (up from 48%) and 50% want to take on digital media planning and buying tasks (up from 33% and 26% respectively).
 
The results are based on responses from 45 companies, with an estimated annual global ad spend of US $60 billion. 7% of respondents are spending more than $50 million annually on their in-house agencies, the same percentage spend $25-50 million, 33% spend $5-$25 million, 13% budget $1 million-$5 million and 27% spend less than $1 million. 
 
While cost efficiencies appears to remain the strongest motivation behind the growth in the in-house function (83%) other factors such as quicker and more agile processes (76%), better integration (59%) and increased brand knowledge (59%) are also driving adoption. 
 
Overall satisfaction with the work produced by these agencies is high at 86% and there was a significant rise in “complete satisfaction”—up from 23% on 2020 to 33% in 2023. All respondents continue to work with external agencies, many of whom are still used to help deliver when in-house capacity is stretched.
 

 
The return of the spectacle
 
Consumers are seeking larger than life experiences more than ever before. 18% of those in APAC attended more live events in 2023 than they did pre-pandemic, higher than the global average of 12%.
 
Global musicians such as Coldplay and Taylor Swift sold out six shows each across APAC in just hours. The 2024 Paris Olympics are projected to sell 10 million tickets—2.5 million more than 2016.
 
That said, live experiences do not always have to be big ticket items like immersive vacations or earth-shaking concerts. At the end of the day, it is all about creating memories and it can be as simple as dressing up for or making an occasion out of anything, such as Barbenheimer in 2023.
 
Additionally, competitive socialising concepts have also risen by 386% since 2021, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s research. This was a result of leisure operators entering the space and consumers wanting to make new friends and try new things. 
 
Brands can go as big as Beyonce’s Renaissance concert or as small as a competitive bowling event. Anybody can create a worthwhile experience as long as it is in line with their brand, and what consumers seek out.
 

 
Mobile marketing is the way to go
Source: Data AI, State of Mobile 2024 report
 
Ad spend for mobile is set to fly past US$400 billion in 2024—an 11% YoY growth from 2023. Perhaps mobile marketing is the way to go given that more than $60 billion was spent in apps (excluding games in 2023).
 
Top apps which are getting consumers’ money includes—Disney+, Tinder and fan-loved TikTok which saw 22% YoY growth in consumer spending in 2023—more than $4 billion consumer spend. TikTok’s secret to monetisation on mobile? It’s actually TikTok coins.  
 
However, the one-time purchase model on TikTok seems to be an outlier compared to other apps. Nearly all top non-game monetisers rely heavily on subscriptions -for instance SnapChat’s consumer spend increased 5x on the back of its Snapchat + subscription.
 

 
Reconnecting with profound and positive emotional states
Source: Adobe's Creative Trends 2024
 
Consumers are craving visuals that inspire a sense of awe, joy, and enchantment as a coping mechanism in today’s challenging macroeconomic environment. The 'Wonder and Joy' trend spans all types of brand messaging and experiences: From simple pleasures, being a ‘kidult’, to full-blown luxury travel and experiences, and AI-generated fantasy environments.
 
The Happiness Report showed 80% of people said they are prioritising health to make them happy, 79% are focusing on personal connections, and 53% are interested in experiences to gain happiness.
 

 
Hyper-personalised AI will mark shift in relationships with influencers

 
AI will tighten its grip on Influencer marketing as Meta rolls out its AI Personas in 2024. Virtual twins of household names such as Kendall Jenner, named Billie: a no-BS, ride-or-die companion, or Snoop Dogg as Dungeon Master, will shift Influence from passive spectatorship to hyper-personalised interactions in ways fans once thought was impossible.
 
Meta has said their journey with these AI Personas is just beginning: “It isn’t purely about building AIs that only answer questions. We’ve been creating AIs that have more personality, opinions, and interests, and are a bit more fun to interact with,” said a Meta spokesperson. “And because interacting with them should feel like talking to familiar people, we did something to build on this even further. We partnered with cultural icons and influencers to play and embody some of these AIs. They’ll each have profiles on Instagram and Facebook, so you can explore what they’re all about.”
 
Influencer marketing is still growing rapidly. There is still a huge amount of untapped potential, especially in new formats like sonic or AI influence. 96% of the creator economy is still untapped meaning the possibilities are endless – this should excite brands, offering them unique and evolving ways to interact with audiences and stand out in a cluttered marketplace.


Tech's double-edged sword
Source: Accenture’s Annual Life Trends Forecast

Nearly a third of consumers in both APAC and SEA say that technology has complicated their lives just as much as it has simplified them. Tech feels like something that happens to them rather than for them, demanding too much and often failing to impact well-being positively.

31% (APAC: 32% | SEA: 35%) say constant notifications control their use of personal tech; 27% (APAC: 28% | SEA: 33%) say it's algorithms, while another 27% say it’s the draw of the endless scroll. In response, consumers are tightening the reins on their tech use: a third (APAC: 30% | SEA: 32%) are removing notifications, one in five are putting on screen time limits, and a quarter are removing apps and devices altogether. This tension points to technology draining people’s resources and their desire to prioritise their well-being.

Organisations must be thoughtful about how their use of technology will fit into people’s lives and what it will demand of them. Time? New skills? Brands that offer people greater choice in how they use (or don’t use) technology to interact will become trusted partners because customers can regain the much-needed sense of agency.  


On the straight and narrow? Marketing to be more responsible and compliant

With Google officially starting its stopwatch on third-party cookie deprecation this week, brands are paying much more attention to their consumer data and how they use it. The result is a heightened concern around compliance. "Data deprecation and the new emphasis on zero and first-party sources, as well as second-party sources such as data clean rooms, networks and exchanges, are leading brands to reconsider their data governance, security and privacy practices," says Jonathan Moran, SAS' head of martech solutions marketing.

SAS says the data compliance imperative is likely to be a key catalyst for the rise of responsible marketing in 2024. Not all brands have comprehensive data compliance practices to help use customer and marketing data responsibly, but in 2024, more will be a "strong, fresh look."

“Responsible marketing isn’t new," notes Jennifer Chase, SAS' executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "However, the possibility of economic uncertainty, the rise in numbers of digital consumers, the subsequent deluge of customer data and data privacy considerations has brought into stark relief that the basic tenets of responsible marketing—the responsible use of customer data and technology, legal compliance, ethical practices, protecting vulnerable audiences, and promoting corporate social responsibility - are more imperative than ever for marketing organizations.”

Data and privacy compliance will be challenging, especially as a second wave of AI usage becomes mainstream, encompassing personalised shopping experiences and as brands test the depths of how much first-party data they can use to create hyper-personalised offers.


Green marketing is imperative 
Source: Teads, Key trends shaping digital media monetisation for publishers and broadcasters

In a world increasingly conscious of its environmental footprint, a 2023 study by McKinsey and NielsenIQ revealed a trend that’s here to stay. When consumers were asked if they cared about buying environmentally and ethically sustainable products, the overwhelming response was a yes. A resounding 66% of global consumers are willing to dig deeper into their pockets for ethically and environmentally sustainable goods.

This consumer-driven push for sustainability is not just a trend but a business opportunity. For entrepreneurs, adopting green policies could mean a significant boost in sales. The global green technology and sustainability market is projected to skyrocket to a staggering US $62 billion between 2023 and 2030.

A report by Teads further underscores this shift. A whopping 92% of consumers place their trust in brands that champion social responsibility and eco-friendliness. Moreover, 81% of shoppers are looking for eco-friendly marketing and advertising. The message is clear: sustainability is no longer a choice but a necessity. Companies that prioritise ethical practices and sustainability are in high demand. As we step into 2024, forging alliances with organisations committed to sustainable business practices and rigorous carbon footprint monitoring will be the key to success.


A return to joy
 
Drawing on the collective research and insights of strategists, futurists and innovators from across its global network, Dentsu Creative’s 2024 Trends Report explores the power of hope in a volatile world. Among the five macro trends the report unpacks is an 'ode to joy': 
 
1. Joyful Resistance 
In a world where joy can seem in short supply, it becomes more important than ever. Moments of joyful surrealism emerge in response to a world in chaos, while advertising rediscovers the transformative power of humour.  
 
2. Self-Care as Subversion 
Be it the refuge of an “Everything Shower”, or the rise of the “soft life” and “lazy girl jobs” in rejection of hustle culture, a quiet rebellion against the fast-paced, high pressure, lifestyle is underway.  
 
3. Unadulterated Play 
Adult responsibilities are unattainable or being deferred in favour of play, as seen in the boom in “Kidult” toys, the popularity of a basic #GirlDinner or a new wave of experiences that merge art galleries and soft play. 
 

Stop saying ‘social’ media

As we enter 2024, it’s time to stop saying ‘social media’. The major platforms don’t exist simply to connect us publicly with friends and family—that behaviour has moved to private messaging apps and groups. By taking the emphasis off the ‘social’, brands can and will reassess how they distribute and syndicate content and messaging, while making big decisions on which platforms they focus their efforts on to achieve their objectives.


A rise in Hermit culture
 
The report predicts a rise in hermit culture in 2024. With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, more people choose to stay in, invest in, and entertain at home, along with the growth of knowledge culture —a steady resurgence of microlearning via online platforms. Advertisers will have to work hard to restore consumer and business confidence. Finding the right audience will become critical, harnessing targeting and first-party data to reach the right customer at the right time. Additionally, brands will need to know exactly where consumers are spending, to capitalise on moments of value, while also allowing campaigns to shift and flex to changing habits.
 

In-app purchases will be the next battleground for revenue in social media apps
 
Historically, social apps are monetised via advertisements, but in 2024, data.ai predicts that more platforms will monetise directly from consumers. TikTok led the way by introducing In-App Purchases to “tip” content creators. YouTube and Instagram have followed suit. The switch will represent a 152% increase in consumer spend for social media apps in 2024.
 

AI becoming the ultimate marketing assistant
 
HubSpot has observed marketers in SEA increasingly viewing AI as an assistant that augments their ability to better manage day-to-day tasks. This is especially true for generative AI applications, which helps marketers develop higher-quality, personalised content that resonates better with audiences, all at a quicker pace. These sentiments are reflected in a HubSpot study, where content creation emerged as the top use case for generative AI among 89% of marketers in the region’s business hub of Singapore.
 

 

Source:
Campaign Asia

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