The Future of Marketing

The Future of Marketing

We ask smart folk across the industry for their thoughts on some of the industry’s hot topics.


What do you predict will be the biggest disruptor in the next five years?

Sean O’Donnell, Director of Marketing, DB Breweries

Two things that we talk about a lot in marketing is the use of data and digital. 

We get excited about the intersection between these two things, using data to reach and connect with people more effectively and executing this approach via digital channels. In my view, the biggest disruptor to this in the next five years is going to be the growing lack of consumer trust in online channels and the proliferation of various rules and regulations to govern them. And brands not being prepared.

 In contrast, there are some brands that rely too heavily on the instant gratification of being able to use digital channels to ‘reach’ consumers.  Posting on social media is not enough, most digital advertising is forgotten, misattributed or never even seen. At DB Breweries we believe emotive and memorable campaigns will continue to build stronger brands for the long term, so my advice is to play both the long game and the efficiency game with a big focus on courage and creativity. Then, no matter what happens to disrupt the channels at your disposal, you’ll win.

Do you see an AI-driven or human-driven future?

Jo Mitchell, Director of Marketing, McDonald’s Restaurants (NZ) Ltd.

AI will definitely be a strong part of our future, using data to drive smart decisions and automate many tasks will be the norm. 

There is no doubt, being smarter with an integrated and responsive data architecture to provide highly personalised, more relevant products, content or messaging will be welcomed. Although, the acceptance of this across generations will likely differ.

However, there will always need to be a human lens to keep check and monitor changes automated learning may not see or pick up, given it’s largely based on past behaviours. Great marketing will still need a rich understanding of people, their needs, behaviours and insights to guide the intelligence systems, and modify to changing behaviours.

We’ll also need a human-driven lens for the more intuitive and creative aspects of the marketing challenge. Our job to engage brands and products with people can be enhanced by tech, but my view is you will still need people to enable it. 

What keeps you up at night?

Andrew Davis, General Manager Marketing and Business Technology, Executive, Toyota NZ Ltd.

“Is our brand strength eroding right in front of my eyes….”

As a marketer, it is humbling to be responsible for one of New Zealand’s most trusted and iconic brands. The challenge is both New Zealand consumers and the car industry are evolving rapidly so it is becoming harder to keep pace and stay meaningful as a brand in modern New Zealand. 

Marketing for awareness seems to be a far more simple recipe than marketing for brand love so where do we best deliver our brand messages or reach out to both consumers and loyal customers in a way that is genuine
and authentic?

The latest craze is to capture as much data as possible to assist in answering some of these questions and to help decision making, but we are quickly learning that data is meaningless without the right insights. Finding the right partners to help in navigating a way forward is always a really important piece of the puzzle. If we are getting the right insights and producing brand marketing that both feels right and that people love then I generally sleep okay…unless my two-year-old is awake at the same time! 

Anna Calver, General Manager of Marketing, WellingtonNZ.

Well I’m a creative, so whatever promotional problem of the day needs solving is generally what fuels my insomnia. It can be small, like what slogan to put on some Wellington merch – current favourite ‘Wellington AF’. Or it can be a real headscratcher like how to market to international students across multiple markets with a budget smaller than the cost of a Suzuki Swift – haven’t managed to crack that one yet. 

On a macro level, it’s definitely the decline of traditional media, the glut of online content and the impact that has not just on our industry, but on our wellbeing as individuals and as a society. 

I work in this game because I love a good story and
the challenge of telling one that resonates about something (or in my case somewhere) I believe in. But the volume of information being directed at people on a daily basis has become overwhelming and it’s affecting many of us adversely. 

We’re contributing to a content rubbish heap. As an industry we need to be doing our bit to clean it up and reduce waste. We need to focus on quality and genuine engagement and stop chasing volume. Who cares if you got a million audience impressions if no one took any real-world action. 

As a bank, you look after money and with that comes a lot of trust from customers. But do you think it’s important that all companies, regardless of industry, make themselves trustworthy to customers? 

Simon Hofmann, Head of Marketing and Brand, Kiwibank.

As choice ever increases, the role of trust becomes more important, regardless of industry. Trust acts as one of the great converters and is crucial to retention. It doesn’t matter if you’re the cheapest, the fastest or the most innovative, if there is an absence of trust or the existing trust is broken your audience is unlikely to use you and will pick from one of the many alternatives. People trust their house is insured in the case of the unthinkable, just as they trust their text message will be delivered, their pizza will arrive on time, or their online date is who they said they are. 

All have varying levels of personal value but trust is the underlier with transparency as a key driver.

Purposeful brands are centred around an incredibly strong core of trust. But purpose needs to be authentic and it can’t be created overnight. As New Zealand’s most trusted bank, and the bank that is focussed on Kiwis making Kiwis better off, we understand the benefit that purpose bestows us. We also understand how fragile that benefit can be. Our focus is consistency of experience to ensure trust is earned every day and never diluted.

What’s AA Insurance’s marketing team capable of that it wasn’t five years ago?

Richard Park, Head of Marketing & Distribution, AA Insurance.

A tremendous amount can change in five years, and it certainly has for AA Insurance’s marketing and communications team. AA Insurance has had significant growth in customers, with record numbers of Kiwis choosing us to protect what’s most valuable to them. This has meant the marketing and communications team has grown to keep up with the scale of the business, as well as the evolution of the industry. 

Admittedly, insurance was a bit slower when it came to the world of digital. While AA Insurance had many industry firsts, some digital media took a little longer. Five years ago AA Insurance wasn’t actively involved in social media – today it’s a vital channel for reaching our customers; we’re there when they need us, through the channels they want, and work towards the best outcomes for all. 

We’re also more dedicated to data than ever. It’s meant better predictive media modelling and attribution modelling.

There’s also a significant investment in strategic research and insights; we have a deeper understating of our customers than ever before. 

Our focus remains on being customer-centric and able to provide the right solution, at the right time, through the right channel. Insurance is about trust and reputation after all. 

If you could give emerging marketers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Andrew Cooper, Chief Marketing Officer, Electric Kiwi.

My advice for new marketers is to really think about the customer segments that are most likely to be attracted to your product, and then align your brand, communications, channels and propositions with your customer front of mind.  For larger brands this may mean multiple executions, for smaller brands it will mean ignoring areas of the market completely. 

Digital marketing has changed the rules on brand marketing, especially for brands with modest budgets – you can now reach your target market with less waste, and achieve more with much less. I would recommend that you understand where you are getting value from your investments be that digital audiences, creative agencies, channels or any other element of your strategy. 

You should know your numbers off the top of your head because a rich understanding of data allows for sound judgment. Before any project I ask myself: What is the problem, what this insight, what will I do, and how will I measure it? I have found this a useful tool over the years – it’s remarkably easy to rush ahead and solve the wrong problems, or solve the right problems with the wrong solutions.


This article was originally published in the September/October 2019 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.

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