By Mark Kersteen - September 25th, 2015

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The speakers for Incite Summit: East share what they think are going to be the biggest game-changers over the next year

We asked the speakers for Incite Summit: East what they thought the biggest disruption for the marketing space was going to be in 2016. Here’s what they said.

New customers, new marketing

As Millennials mature and become the most powerful subset of consumers, and Generation Z begins to supplant them as the young tastemakers and trendsetters, marketers need to adapt. That means new platforms, content, and forms of engagement—as Elanah Entin, Social Media Manager at BaubleBar, describes:

“As channels like Snapchat and Periscope gain even more popularity among Millennials, brands will have to focus more on raw, unedited content to reach their target audience. When scrolling through Instagram and Facebook there is a plethora of beautifully stylized photos and ads that probably took hours and hours to make, but it no longer does the trick in attracting the right people. Millennials are looking for ways to connect with brands in an organic, authentic manner, which means brands have to take away all of the filters and instead focus on relationship building through raw content.”

Patti Girardi, Vice-President, Marketing and Creative for Compass Group, notes the marked difference in behavior and preference between Millennials and Generation Z.

“Marketers who continue to incorporate Generation Z into the same category as Millennials when referring to the highly-coveted youth demographic will miss an opportunity to most effectively engage Gen Z. Now age 5-20, members of Generation Z are, in some ways, extreme versions of Millennials. But in many ways, they are polar opposites.”

Maia McCann, Director of Content for, notes how marketers will have change their approach over social, as well as the mediums they use.

“Social Media 1.0 isn't necessarily dead, but marketers are going to need to reframe the way that they think about reaching their target demo. Messaging Apps will prove to be increasingly important to reaching Gen Z.”

New platforms, new opportunities

This shift in behavior isn’t just generational. Everyone is consuming media in new, different ways than they were just a few years ago. Bluford Birdsong, Vice-President, Total Retirement Solutions Marketing and Strategy at Prudential Retirement, gives an overview:

“I think that we will see a foundational shift in the way social media is used in marketing. Current users of social media as well as our newest consumers, Digital Natives are more sophisticated, and do not want to be sold to on social media platforms. They want to be engaged and see the companies that they do business with reflect their values and priorities.”

Sue Funke, Digital Brand Senior Manager, TV Land, raises the importance of streaming video—from Snapchat to Periscope to Go90, video apps are reaching a saturation point that will have undeniable effects on consumer habits:

“I think we'll see some interesting behaviors from consumers and marketers on usage, and it will be something to consider in planning.”

Marketers are going to have to find out how to use put their messages on these services in a way that feels natural, and doesn’t interrupt the user experience. Ann Marie Gothard, Senior Director, Communications Strategy for EmblemHealth, believes that the rapid growth of social media in all of our lives is going to lead to a backlash.

“Social media exhaustion. It began with email fatigue, and has extended to monitoring multiple devices – work and personal – and more applications than one can count.”

She also raises the potential for disruption when consumers can downvote the content they don’t like on their social media platforms,

“If it comes to fruition and catches on, the “dislike” button will throw marketers for a loop, as they’ll need strategies for low “dislike” ratings and scores.”

The mobile tipping point is (finally) here

Few are better equipped to comment on this topic than Greg Stuart, CEO of The Mobile Marketing Association, who sees mobile as “The greatest change in consumer behavior and marketing we’ll see in our generation.”

This means a change in the opportunities and tools available for marketers, as Justin Racine, Director of Marketing and eCommerce at Geriatric Medical, points out:

“I can see Beacons and mobile promotions by geographical location services coming more into play in 2016 and beyond. Offering instant promotions based on previous purchases, location within the store, and a variety of other metrics will open new doors for marketers.”

Heather Sears, Vice-President of Marketing at YP, picks up on a topic we’ve been talking a lot about recently:

“Webrooming (when consumers research products online and come into a physical store to buy them) will be even more prevalent than showrooming (currently 69% vs 49% according to a Harris poll) and will mandate complete cross-channel integration for retailers. Those who can’t connect the dots of cross-channel marketing and operations will lose out.”

But with every new opportunity comes new roadblocks.

“No question, the impending ad blocking revolution is going to have a massive disruptive effect on digital marketing.”

Remarks Adam Cohen, Social Media Manager for Thomson Reuters.

But there are other factors worth considering as well. Doug Zarkin, CMO at Pearle Vision, raises the importance of:

“The presidential election, and the impact those dollars have in securing and planning marketing investments.”

But finally, Jeff Pundyk, Vice-President Global Integrated Content Solutions for The Economist, succinctly voices what I think every in-tune marketer has felt over the last couple of years:

“The disruption has already happened. Companies are way behind their customers. The changes required to catch up have implications for the way companies work across every function. The question for 2016 and beyond is ‘Do companies have the nerve it takes to re-engineer and re-organize themselves to respond?’”

What do you think the biggest disruption of 2016 is going to be? Tell us on Twitter at @incite_marcomms 

The Incite Summit East 2015

November 2015, The Marriott Brooklyn Bridge

The USA's best brand-focused marketing conference. Featuring CMOs, SVPs and marketing leaders from Dell, Citi, Chobani, Activision, HSBC, Mondelez and many more.

Brochure Programme
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