Priorities for Research, Thought Leadership, and Industry Engagement
Theme 1: Future Customers
Marketers are facing the challenge of understanding the customers of the future, which includes the younger generations (eg Generation Z and Generation Alpha) who use technology to interact with organisations and each other in very different ways to the generations that came before them. Some of the questions that can be addressed under this theme include:
- What are the meaningful, interesting, and important characteristics of future generations of customers, particularly in relation to how they interact with new technologies and platforms (eg voice, AI personal assistants, VR and AR)?
- How can we better understand, broadly, human customer interactions with nonhuman technologies in marketing contexts, such as AI-driven chatbots, robots, and assistants?
- How are newer vs. older generations of customers similar vs. different and what are the implications for business? What has changed vs. stayed the same?
- What is the nature of customer loyalty in these newer generations? Does this imply a need for new/different models of customer value? How durable is loyalty these days, anyway?
- How can marketers learn from younger, more tech-savvy, more sharing-willing customers? What can be learned that has business value (eg new product ideas, insights)?
- How can we avoid thinking about “next-gen” customers “monolithically” and instead develop a valuable, nuanced, and more precise view?
Theme 2: Future Marketers and Business Growth Models
Of interest to many is the marketing function of the future and what marketers need to be able to do, as well as what future marketing-driven growth models should/could look like. Some of the questions that can be addressed under this theme include:
- On the talent acquisition and talent development side of things, what and/or who is the marketer of the future? What skills do they need?
- How can future marketing professionals balance their “left brain” and “right brain” approaches to be “whole brain” marketers that are adept at both data-driven and creative aspects of marketing?
- What is an appropriate structure for a marketing organization of the future? What are the relative roles of formal vs. informal structures and networks in driving performance?
- How can organisations manage the constant wave of technology-driven “disruption” with innovation spending or investments that are worthwhile, structure, robust, and rigorous? What do large organisations get out of this?
- How can marketing deliver on its fundamental purpose of growing demand in a slowgrowth world? Where can marketers find growth in uncomfortable places?
- What drives marketer adoption of new technologies, methods, analytical tools, and (digital) channels?
- How should marketers approach experimenting with new (digital) marketing channels to rapidly identify whether or not the new channel is worth further investment at that time?
- How can we help marketers overcome the so-called “Shiny New Toy Syndrome” with respect to new technologies so that they get back to focusing on value creation and growing demand?
Theme 3: Future Measurement and Assessing the Impact of Marketing in an Expanding Multi-Channel World
A perennially important topic involves measurement (or KPIs, metrics, effectiveness, etc). Central to this is that we need to better understand what to measure, how to measure, and why we measure in the environment we currently face (and will continue to face) where there exists an expanding set of channels and touchpoints. This all operates as complex system but this system and how everything works together is not necessarily well understood. Some of the questions that can be addressed under this theme include:
- Which metrics are good indicators or proxies of marketing outcomes (good and bad)? And which ones are good intermediate indicators? Can more robust links between metrics be established?
- How do we model and understand sequences of touchpoints, e.g., across a customer journey? Can new methods for gaining insights from complex customer journeys be developed and successfully deployed? What would these be?
- How do old/traditional channels and touchpoints interact with new/digital channels and touchpoints in marketing mix, media mix, and sales response models? Can we build “better” models and how will they be used?
- How do we assess the impact of social influencers, and non-advertising social media actions more generally, particularly as part of a broader media mix?
- Since we now have a more extensive and complex set of “levers”, how can we best understand how they all work, particularly by considering complex combinations of media channels?
- How can media mix modeling (MMM) and multi-touch attribution (MTA) approaches within marketing science be evaluated in a complex multi-channel environment? How can MMM and MTA be improved and made more accurate?
- To what extent are new(er) digital media channels, such as advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, effective in generating various marketing outcomes, from brand-related KPIs (e.g., awareness, favorability) to sales?
Theme 4: Future Role of Marketing, Meaningfulness, and Purpose in Society
Increasingly of interest is meaning and purpose within a marketing context. At the heart of this are considerations of how we can (or should) think about moving from having customer “relationships” to considering more “meaningful connections” between customers and brands. More broadly, this theme speaks to the future role (and possible breadth) of marketing in organisations. Some of the questions that can be addressed under this theme include:
- What is a “meaningful connection” between a customer and a brand or service provider? How do we measure “meaningfulness” and understand the returns to this?
- How can, and why should, marketers attempt to turn customer relationships into stronger, more meaningful connections? How can deeper connections with customers be evaluated?
- What should marketers’ goals be? Are there new “marketing KPIs” emerging that are worth considering? Is purposeful marketing something that should be aspired to and, if so, what does this imply for organisations?
- How should marketers deal with serious societal issues such as eroded consumer trust in companies, consumers’ privacy concerns, and fears associated with “creepy” advertising (eg due to targeting that is too precise, because of retargeting)?
- What is the future role of marketing in the C-suite and in the boardroom? How can organisations be lead by and through marketing?
Theme 5: Future of Creativity in Marketing
The role of creativity in marketing has been questioned, and its importance even doubted by some in the industry, because of the rise of big data and associated data science and analytics tools being used by marketers. As we enter into the age of artificial intelligence, questions about the importance of creativity in marketing (at least in a traditional marketing sense) will continue to be asked. There is, however, a definite place for creativity and innovative thinking in the future of marketing. Some of the questions that can be addressed under this theme include:
- What does it mean to be a creative marketer in the age of AI, advanced technology, and big data? What new forms of creativity and innovative thinking are important and will be valuable?
- How can creativity and data science in marketing coexist? In which ways can creativity and data science be combined to enhance marketing effectiveness and efficiency, and improve customer experiences and consumer engagement?
- Is the value of the “big creative idea” in marketing and advertising actually greater than ever in the highly cluttered and noisy media landscape consumers face both now and in the future? What is the strategic purpose, therefore, of broad creative concepts for brands in the future?
- How can data analytics inform creative processes in marketing?