Go where the action is. That's always been Advertising Age's charter, but it's more urgent and challenging now than at any point in this newspaper's 65 years. With that in mind, and full of new-year resolution, we offer 10 marketing areas in which we believe the action will be heaviest in the next 12 months or so.
1. Promotions, promotions, profusions of promotions. Talk about a trend. Consider H.J. Heinz Co., with its famed gallery of ad characters and slogans, recently dropping advertising in favor of promotion spending. Or the endless wave of sweepstakes, from warm-weather vacation prizes promoted in cold-weather commuter stations, to sweepstakes at the start of video rentals (in between previews of upcoming flicks from the same wonderful movie company) and, well, you name it. The other day, for example, our dread at opening the instructions for a new Braun coffee maker was eased by a promo piece headlined: "Tell us why you chose Braun ... and we'll enter you in our sweepstakes for a free Braun product of your choice."
2. The blurring of business-to-business and consumer marketing. Ask Intel Corp.'s Andy Grove about this one. There Intel was, talking in a businesslike manner on the Internet about a little High Math malfunction in the Pentium chip, and suddenly, faster than Mr. Grove could say "Intel Inside," he and his mighty microprocessor were the butt of a thousand and one consumer jokes just in time for the all-important holiday sales season.
3. The explosion of new ways to distribute goods and information. The PC industry has pioneered a plethora of new channels for getting products into the hands of businesses and consumers. Witness the awareness of PC possibilities created by Egghead Software, CompUSA and Gateway 2000, to name only a few. This year, look for the focus of distribution in the world of marketing to be on nouvelle means to gather, analyze and disseminate information itself. Changes in the way marketing information is sliced, diced and sent to customers are occurring with dizzying frequency. "The data ocean increased 100-fold in the past three years and it will increase another 100-fold over the next three years," Nielsen North America President-COO David Flaschen said late last year. "You need a new paradigm of gathering and mining this information."
4. Lifestyle marketing. Few subjects treated last year by Advertising Age received more immediate interest or inspired more continuing discussion than our Nov. 7 issue's Special Report dealing with this subject. That issue explored marketing and media trends to predict what consumers would be thinking and buying in 1995. Spirituality is back. "Casual" marks much of today's lifestyle decisions, from clothes to ready-for-anything sports utility vehicles.
Demographics undoubtedly will play a more important role in marketing decisions. Increased visibility of Asian-Americans in advertising is one of the most notable manifestations of this orientation. George Burnett, general manager of marketing communications at AT&T, reminded us recently that by the year 2005 the five largest cities in the U.S. will be dominated, numbers-wise, by non-white populations. Mr. Burnett also noted that AT&T 's current advertising in the U.S. is conveyed in 19 languages.
5. Global media buys-at last. Marshall McLuhan's Global Village may actually incorporate in this century. Look at Coca-Cola, Disney, Mars, Nike, Procter & Gamble and distiller Hiram Walker as they go about putting together truly global media plans.
6. More emphasis on corporate branding by the multinationals of the world. As these cross-border giants continue to think globally, they inevitably will have to operate in a more long-term manner in spite of some quarterly stockholder outcries. Here U.S. corporate behemoths can learn plenty from overseas counterparts. "Companies overseas have a commitment to long-term brand building and to the belief that if they can build market share, they can increase their margins," Bill McGuire, Business Week's corporate branding manager, observed not long ago. "My gut feeling is that most U.S. corporations just don't get it yet."
7. A field day for healthcare marketers. They're already having fun. But now, with Hillary's Crusade a faded memory and regulation-wary Newt & Co. in town, stand back. Potently merged and reemerged pharmaceutical giants will be prowling the landscape, relining retail shelves and doctors' bags with high-priced drugs offering a raft of new remedies and cure-alls.
8. Unabated new-media mania. When you find AT&T in partnership with Modem Media, and John Malone's TCI cable colossus eagerly buying into Microsoft's software vision, you've got a New World Order of one kind or another. Figuring out what it is, and how to make the 'net snare some advertising dollars, will be more than enough to occupy some of the best minds of our generation.
9. A comeback for good copy. Believe it or not, we see encouraging signs that people are paying more attention to words-in sales and education and entertainment. Maybe it's that the thrill of multimedia's image-dominated view-a-rama is wearing off a bit. Anyway, get ready for a refresher course on the power of words: well chosen, well aimed, well connected. Call it a "Contract With America." Call it something Churchillian or Lincolnesque. Call it something clear, apt and memorable.
10. The ascendancy of integrated marketing. Creating a marketing mix and making it work. We're on the edge of that frontier. The technology is still being built and refined. The market research is still being performed and analyzed. Many of the customers are yet to be awakened. But it is happening. The Age of Integrated Marketing is upon us and we must take up its demands as well as its opportunities, its challenges as well as its payoff.
Strapped in? Enjoy the ride.