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Beth Sidhu, Chief Brand and Communications Officer, Stagwell
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Insights for the C-Suite

Enjoyed these insights? View more commentary from our global marketing, technology, and creative experts in Stagwell’s “C[x]O” series for the C-Suite. Click here to explore more.

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Generative AI is changing the marketing game. In April, Stagwell headed to Google Next to discuss that change, and what it means for Chief Marketing Officers and other C-Suite leaders in the next year.  

The event also marked Stagwell’s first software release via its Google Cloud partnership, introducing a data clean room to securely enhance client data with Stagwell’s extensive resources. More on that here.  

For now, hear from our at Stagwell Marketing Cloud and Left Field Labs about the three biggest takeaways from Google Next. 

The Sky’s the Limit But Use Cases are the Target

At Google Next – and at several marketing and technology conference this year, including CES and SXSW – the clear challenge to attendees was the two-step from theoretical implementations of AI to hard use-cases that provide value to consumers (and reasons for investment). It’s no wonder companies in attendance debuted over 101 real-world use cases for generative AI, spanning applications to consumer experiences, back-end-operations, insights, and more.  

Some common themes emerged as to where AI is providing the most immediate value:  

  • AI to accelerate the curation of essential business insights: AI21 Labs showcased how they use a BigQuery integration called Contextual Answers to allow users to query data across their businesses conversationally.  
  • AI to put the power of storytelling in everyone’s fingertips. Google unveiled Google Vids, a new AI-powered video creation app in its Workspace suite that can do everything from generate a storyboard, piece together first drafts of videos from stock multimedia, and do voiceovers.  
  • AI to bring real-time tracking to the customer experience: UPS is constructing a digital twin of its entire distribution network that will enable customers to see where their packages are at any time.

 

AI Will Mean a Rewriting of Every Customer Interface – Here’s Where to Begin

Artificial intelligence represents a quantum leap for creativity and productivity.  As a network on the beat of marketing, we know that AI’s rise will mean a rewriting of almost all customer interfaces as companies race to deliver consumers the personalized experiences they’ve desired since the dawn of the internet. At Google Next, Stagwell CTO Merrill Raman and Stagwell Marketing Cloud CTO Mansoor Basha emphasized that the first step brands should take to reap the benefits of AI should be assessing their organization’s data infrastructure to ensure it is primed for AI.  

Tactically, that may mean deep clean-up of existing first party data sources using data science best practices to get the information organized in a manner that AI can extract useful insights from. Or it may mean partnering with a third-party data provider who can supplement your view of existing and prospective consumers. 

AI Can Be the Bedrock for Trust, When Implemented Appropriately

As Left Field Labs CEO Sarah Mehler shared at Google Next: with growth in AI utilization, a critical question to consider is how do we build trust with audiences when considering AI implementation? Striking the right tone in AI-enabled communications is a primary step. And remember that communication that reflects cultural and demographic nuances is what ultimately resonates with audiences and builds trust in new systems. Well-practiced organizations will apply sentiment analysis to better understand the emotions of a user and provide appropriate responses (thus driving traction and building more successful outcomes).  

Attention to detail is also crucial for building trust in AI implementations. A “Chain of Verification” is one of several methods that can be employed to enhance the accuracy of information provided by AI systems. This process involves multiple steps to validate information before it is conveyed to the user. For instance, after our language model generates a response, we can employ a separate validation model to scrutinize the facts within that response. This secondary check helps to identify and correct any inaccuracies or ‘hallucinations’—instances where the model generates false or misleading information. By systematically verifying data through multiple layers, we can provide more reliable and trustworthy outputs. 

Wondering where to begin with AI implementation in your organization?

Email Beth Sidhu, Chief Brand and Communications Officer at Stagwell, to discuss how we can support your organization’s digital goals. 

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SXSW 2024: Pulse on Culture for the C[x]O

As an essential convergence point for marketers anticipating the future, SXSW helps businesses unveil the trends at the intersection of culture, commerce, and digital transformation that will shape a new age of consumers. As our teams emerge from SXSW, here are five consumer trends that demand attention, offering insights into what lies ahead. Connecting each trend is an opportunity to build fandom with consumers around your business.

ATHLETES AS BRANDS; A NEW FANDOM HOOK?

Brandon Marshall, former 12-year NFL wide receiver and host of I AM ATHLETE, says today’s athletes are multi-hyphenate leaders – building businesses and nonprofits, and creating identities that go well beyond the field, court or track. For brands, this offers a major opportunity to write a new playbook for partnership that positions athletes as multi-dimensional ambassadors to reach consumers who are hungry for authentic connection. For Kalen Thornton, a former NFL player and current senior PepsiCo executive, the three things to consider are authenticity, connection and distinction. Authenticity is especially crucial in today’s marketing landscape; consumers appreciate genuine connection, and it can make or break whether they transition to long-term brand fans. If CMOs can build stronger partnerships with athletes that reflect that, they’re in a better place to activate athletes as brand storytellers – in turn creating fandom with customers.

Keeping up with Jarvises: The Race to Bots with Benefits

There were few explicit sessions in the advertising track at SXSW on AI –  but of those on the agenda, sessions like “Navigating Advertising Hype Cycles” made it clear marketers are over the buzz, and in the mood for clear use-cases. Here’s one to noodle on. Generative AI is ushering in subtle yet impactful changes in consumer interactions with products and services. The focus extends beyond convenience; whether stated or not, we are now in an arms race to create realistic versions of popular sci-fi bots like Iron Man’s Jarvis. In this “age of anticipation,” as Code and Theory Chairman Dan Gardner calls it, brands must stay ahead by developing or integrating with the best personal assistants available to link their consumer experiences to a broader ecosystem of value. Already, we’re seeing global brands like L’Oreal and Walmart take steps to infuse AI assistants into their brand proposition, whether by providing beauty advice or enhancing moments across the retail experience. Gardner emphasizes the imminent digital transformation of customer experiences, fueled by vast data and AI’s ability to anticipate needs rather than merely reacting. This is an opportunity for every sector, and one that requires keen collaboration between CEOs and their marketing and technology leaders.

“For too long, we’ve been looking at ‘personalization’ as the answer. That was just targeting. Now, we will begin to see industries disrupted by a reimagined approach to delivering value. We are finally at the point where AI plus data can anticipate customer behaviors. This will boost sales in the near term as well as build affinity in the future,” says Gardner.

Adulthood Canceled? Gen Z’s Mid-Life Crisis as an Experiential and Commerce Opportunity

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered seismic shifts in digital transformation, giving rise to entirely new consumer behaviors and sectors. For Gen Z, already wielding significant global purchasing power, the pandemic resulted in missed rite of passage moments, impacting independence and income security. 38% of Gen Z women feel like their lives were ‘canceled,’ and 61% of Gen Z say the pandemic has increased their feelings of loneliness, per Stagwell’s Harris Poll.

At SXSW, conversations in the advertising track like “Building Brands in the Unhappiness Era” converged around the opportunity to create positive and delightful experiences for consumers – a bulwark against the bad vibes COVID left behind. Whether that’s adopting a play-centric approach to brand expression or leaning into branded entertainment, the challenge and opportunity are clear: the most active purchasing group for the next decade is eager to make up for lost time. How will brands help them conquer this opportunity? Strategies that cultivate equity and fandom by incorporating community, connection, and experience into marketing will dominate.

Navigating the New Consumer “Political Brain”

In a polarized landscape, brands risk losing support if they enter politics improperly. Activating consumers’ “political brains” divides the base and diminishes brand support. Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn says:  “At best, politics splits this country 50–50. If you get involved in politics in any way, whatever your popularity is, it [gets] cut in half. For brands like targeting mass market consumers, you cannot win. You can only win if you’re a smaller niche brand that has a group of customers that would be very compatible with your values or political values, or you’ve expressed those values during a prolonged period of time, so they’re already baked into your brand.”

To insulate themselves, Chief Communications Officers must tread carefully, avoiding making consumers feel like they’re casting a vote with each purchase. They must seek, as well, counsel from perspectives across the political spectrum, acknowledging their consumers are diffuse in their ideology as well.

Beyond the ‘Shop’ Page; Will AI Transform E-Commerce?

“Brands are at a pivotal moment in time when it comes to e-commerce,” says Lauren Kushner, CEO, Kettle. “Many retailers had a booming few years followed by some softness in their conversion funnel and they are taking a hard look at how e-commerce can work harder for them. Enter tools and experiences powered by AI.”

AI is poised to elevate e-commerce by forcing brands to rethink their online interactions, moving beyond the push to a push-and-pull cycle with their customers. With tools and experiences powered by AI, brands can create contextualized and innovative online experiences that anticipate consumer needs. Hyper-personalized recommendations and streamlined purchase flows promise to forge more meaningful connections with brands and drive conversions.

Bring Community to Commerce

As Redscout CEO Ivan Kayser tells it, a modern approach to the marketing mix places community, advocacy, and content at its core. “We are just starting to dig through the rubble of the DTC reckoning, beginning to draw lessons from rule-breaking brands that are operating from a completely new playbook. Brands that are deepening value for and with their existing customers rather than focusing solely acquisition should be watched closely.” Per a new study from Assembly and Dotdash Meredith, unveiled at SoHo House at SXSW on Monday, communities provide marketers with the chance to talk, explore, and support the motivations and values that drive consumer behavior.

The balancing act moving forward is seeking strategies that genuinely benefit the business bottom line – while engaging customers in a manner that doesn’t scream transactional. While on the ground at SXSW, Kayser has been on the lookout for measurement approaches focusing on differentiation, consumer preference, and margin. And for brands that treat every aspect of the business as an expression of the brand, greatly expanding the opportunity to build fandom with each touchpoint. If you can advance short-term revenue goals while building a cohort of customers that will follow, and purchase with you, in the future, you can crack the fandom code. 

Follow Along

In the dynamic realm of SXSW, these trends provide a glimpse into the future, challenging marketers to adapt and innovate in the ever-changing landscape of commerce, culture, and consumer behavior. Follow along with Stagwell on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram as SXSW continues.

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For realtime insights, follow us on LinkedIn

 Kicking off this International Women’s Day, we’re taking a look at how Stagwell and its agencies are championing women, from marathons to consent education. Below, the network spotlights impactful women-focused initiatives happening today, during Women’s History Month, and throughout the year.

Allison

Lisa Rosenberg, global partner & president of consumer brands at Allison will sit on the Culture Equity and in Women’s Sports panel at SXSW. This panel will explore the relevant media and cultural influences impacting efforts to level the playing field for girls and women in sports – from grassroots, to collegiate to professional athletes. Learn more about the event here.

Susie Hughes, EVP of Allison London sat down with PR Week to share what advice she’d give to her younger self — “Approach new challenges as opportunities, rather than as things that could go wrong. When things do go wrong – or not as expected – the details quickly fade into funny stories, and the experiences become lessons that make the next challenge easier.”

Assembly

Assembly is producing a panel at its “Metamorphosis” event on March 11th at SXSW. “Money Mavens” aims to democratize finance for the next generation of women, and will feature an all-female panel: “finfluencer” Amanda Wolfe (@Shewolfeofwallstreet), Podcast host and CEO of Scaling Retail, Syama Buntin, Founder and CEO of Wealthbuild.ai Ramona Ortega, Esq., and Editor-in-Chief of InStyle, Sally Holmes. These esteemed experts are changing the face of finance by sharing knowledge and know-how to help women clear debt, manage money, and build wealth – one investment at a time. 

Assembly Europe in partnership with Goodstuff, KWT Global and Stagwell kicked off the International Women’s Day celebration with an engaging panel discussion about “The Power of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace.” During the panel, leaders explored what it means to embrace emotions and how to leverage them for success, particularly in the workplace, in the hopes of creating awareness and fostering an environment where everyone feels supported in expressing their own emotions.  

Code and Theory

This International Women’s Day, Code and Theory asked creatives and technologists to share thoughts on womanhood, their best industry advice and the change they’d like to see. Explore what female leaders within the agency had to say here.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky London

One in five UK adults think ‘no’ can mean ‘yes’ when it comes to sex – to address national confusion on consent, CPB London launched the “I’m Asking For It” campaign in partnership with Right to Equality. This multi-agency effort led by CPB London, Assembly Europe, Goodstuff and KWT Global raises awareness for consent and asks individuals to join in demanding the UK adopt the Affirmative Consent Standard.

GALE

GALE, Vox Media, and MilkPEP announced an expansive media partnership focused on spotlighting female athletes. The contract is an extension of a longstanding partnership with MilkPEP which aims to break the coverage gap in sports and elevate female athletes of all levels along the way. To celebrate the launch, the companies hosted an inspiring run for allies at SXSW, followed by a panel discussion.

KWT Global

KWT Global asked women within their organization to share their take on what ‘inspiring inclusion’ means. Envisioning a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination – a world where diversity, equity and inclusion are top of mind, female leaders share their vision for the future.

Left Field Labs

Sarah Mehler, founder and CEO of Left Field Labs authored a piece, “Inspiring Disruption: Women Redefining Authentic Leadership,” featured in Little Black Book. Mehler shares career advice and reflects on her experience defining her own path as a female leader.

“On this International Women’s Day, let us celebrate the strides we have made towards a more inclusive and humane approach to leadership and technology. Let us also renew our commitment to being agents of change, pushing forward with courage and a deep belief in the power of human connection.”

Stagwell

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Connect with Stagwell at CES 2024

Stagwell will return to Las Vegas for CES 2024, where we will host a series of conversations at the intersection of business, marketing and impactful technology. Join us for interactive briefings, hands on experiences, and shared discourse to level up your experience at the world’s biggest technology show.

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Boot up! The U.S.’ biggest technology show, CES, is just around the corner and Stagwell is headed to Vegas with our eyes peeled for the technology that will drive marketing and business transformation in 2024. CES is inspirational, no doubt. But for modern business leaders, finding focus on the convention floor can be tricky.

To help the C-Suite parse the fads from the frontiers at CES, Stagwell is launching the first edition of a new insights series, C [×] O. Across some of the biggest creative, technology, and marketing events this year, we’ll bring our brand of smart, quick insights to focus the C [×] O in your organization on the most valuable transformations to track. At CES, we’ll be looking out for trends for the CEOs, CMOs, CTOs, and C(Communications) Officers.

Still getting your plans together for Vegas? Meet our experts here and read on for their predictions of what to expect on the ground.

CEOs: Remember the VCR
David Sable, Vice Chair, Stagwell

CES can be the equivalent of watching a focus group with a loud and polarizing participant who creates a dynamic around one POV that suits their purpose. I refer you, with caution, to the years where we heard that drones would take over the world; AR/VR would change everything we did; Climate issues would be core to all that we buy: TV screens were dead and gone: and of course, AI will rule the world.

In 1970, at CES, Phillips introduced the consumer VCR, bringing a $50,000 TV studio product to our homes…which evolved to the Streaming we have today. Keep your eyes open and your minds free. Think about that VCR, ignore the group think, and see if you can spot what actually might be next. Contrarian thinking may unlock an unpopular or unexpected path to transforming your business. More to come from the floor.

CMOs: Look Out for The Age of Smarter Creativity
Maggie Malek, President, North America, Crispin Porter + Bogusky

CES 2024 will be another chapter in the narrative of finding the balance between technology and people. AI will, of course, be the champion as it’s top of mind for virtually everyone, but 2024 will be about how companies utilize the tech to enable even smarter marketing. CMOs will continue to have to find the right magic middle of leveraging AI for efficiencies while re-investing those savings into areas to drive their business. AI will allow dollars to be spent towards smarter creative; more access to creators as advertisers; reduced media waste with AI-enabled adtech; revitalizing purpose-driven investments from equity to sustainability; and stronger digital experiences to drive personalization in a cookieless world. Life post-pandemic has always been about efficiency, but we’re optimistic 2024 enables brand building to re-emerge even smarter than before.

CTOs: The Quantum Era Puts the CTO-CMO Partnership in Focus
Justin Lewis, Chair, Constellation

Technology transformation surged in 2023 with the adoption of consumer-friendly GenAI. This shift mirrored the early days of social media, swiftly evolving from initial skepticism to a rallying cry for global businesses and tech leaders. CES 2024 promises to chart AI’s continued trajectory as we are treated to tangible results from a year of experimentation across various sectors.

CES will be a pivotal moment for tech leaders, emphasizing the imperative collaboration between Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). Expect organizations to rekindle focus on this partnership, which is essential for transforming innovation into category-defining opportunities. On the ground, I’ll be tracking how immersive tech like AR and VR gains traction, infiltrating education, fitness, and business applications; how industries expand blockchain’s applications, especially in healthcare; and how quantum computing, a game-changing tech, takes the spotlight for its problem-solving prowess and security enhancements, demanding collaboration between tech experts and the government to navigate associated risks.

CCOs: With Mis/Mal/Dis-Information Afoot, 2024 is the Year of Responsible Tech
Ray Day, Vice Chair, Stagwell

For Chief Communications Officers at this year’s CES, “responsible tech” needs to be a major theme. While AI was THE headline of 2023, adopting it – as well as other game-changing technologies – responsibly and ethically will be job one for those of us trusted with stewarding an organization’s reputation. Comms leaders need to be focused on technology and its role in misinformation – especially leading up to the U.S. General Election; polarization and how to use technology to bring people back together; and better anticipating the ever-increasing reputation risks technology will pose in the year ahead.

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Mark Penn

As the year comes to an end, it’s time for business leaders to take stock and realize the recession many of us feared this year did not hit. In fact, with consumers still spending healthily and sitting on lots of disposable income, now marks a bigger marketing opportunity than ever. In the December 2023 edition of Hitting the Mark originally published in Barron’s – I share what leaders need to learn from the recession that never came.

As always, if you have questions or comments, please reach out to me.

Companies Cut Marketing as If a Recession Was Coming. It Didn’t.

Fears of a recession drove too many companies’ executive decisions this year. They hunkered down and cut marketing spending and maybe digital innovation, too. Then the news came that there was no recession—in fact consumers were spending on all sorts of consumables. Companies that bet on recession lost out.

The old, trusted brands faced little competition, since their nemeses pulled back. Consumers turned to familiar faces, and so the big companies pocketed market-share gains. Those chief financial officer-driven orders looked good on paper—in reality they cost businesses tremendously. Consumer timing outside of a recession is as impossible as stock market timing. Consumers often defy logic and expectations – and this year they were spending.

Pulling back wasn’t entirely irrational. This time last year just about everyone was scared of a looming recession. Reuters polled economists in Oct. 2022 and found 65% thought a recession would occur within the next year. In Dec. 2022, 80% of Americans thought the country was either already in a recession or would be in the following year, according to the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll.

But the recession never came. After steady growth all year the economy grew by 4.9% in the third quarter of 2023, driven primarily by consumers. Consumer spending increased 4% for the quarter and was responsible for 2.7 percentage points of the total GDP increase—signs of a strong economy.

Consumers Keep Spending…and Spending

Consumers turned out to have more money to spend than ever. Thanks to Covid-era stimulus bills and shutdowns, median net worth rose 37% from 2019 to 2022. Americans still have an estimated extra $1.7 trillion in savings. Even in the third quarter of 2023, disposable net income grew 3.8%, nearly triple what economists were forecasting. With the economy mostly returning to a post-pandemic normal, consumers are eager to spend on experiences.

Consumers went on a shopping spree this summer. Spending at movie theaters, restaurants, sporting events, and casinos all rose in August. Spending on international travel and airline transportation shot up in September. Overall last quarter, the consumer spending increase was spread almost evenly across goods and services.

It’s not just wealthy consumers who are opening their wallets. Retail sales have risen six months in a row. The holiday season is already off to a good start. Online spending for Black Friday was up 7.5% this year, according to Adobe. That’s right in line with a forecast of 7-9% for e-commerce holiday sales growth this year. Overall holiday season sales are estimated to rise 3-4%, less than the pandemic years, but that’s still a healthy increase.

The Challenger Imperative

So challenger companies that pulled back on spending wasted a whole year not getting their name out there and putting up a fight for new customers. Smaller brands suffer disproportionately when everyone cuts their marketing budgets. People will fall back on what they know rather than try new, unfamiliar things.

Companies need to recognize their mistake of pulling back in fear of the recession that wasn’t. The lesson for 2024 is to resist that fear again and think twice about cutting back on marketing and other engines of growth. Consumers are still sitting on lots of disposable income and the percentage of Americans who think the country will avoid a recession entirely has nearly doubled in the past twelve months. The Fed is holding rates steady and is hopefully done with its policy of economic blood-letting.

The established companies want the upstarts to keep doing nothing and giving away market share for free, but challengers must keep their foot on the gas pedal. They have even more ground to make up after this lost year. The recession never came, but the consequences were real and serious. Hopefully those trying to predict consumer trends will learn the lesson that many stock-market timers have learned—you pull back from advancing in the marketplace at your own peril.

Until next time,

Mark Penn

 

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The holiday swirl is in full swing, and just as consumers fine-tune their wish lists, brands and retailers are thinking about how they can market and promote during the busiest time of year. One key insight from GALE retail media director Dan Maguire: the key to staying on consumers’ nice, not naughty lists this season is unifying AI services, retail media platforms, and shopper experiences. 

Dive into this edition of The Well to learn more about this year’s holiday landscape, from how much consumers expect to spend on big days like Black Friday, to how social storefronts are becoming the preferred point-of-sale for multiple generations of consumers. 

— Beth Sidhu, Chief Brand and Communications Officer

Smart Spending & Spirited Selling 

It’s not enough to promote holiday deals; brands and retailers must take a more inquisitive approach and understand consumer behaviors and the economy. According to Allison’s “2023 Holiday Retail Landscape,” consumers have set budget limitations this holiday season, with 49% planning to spend less than $1,000. However, retailers should still expect an uptake in sales compared to 2022. Read the report to discover why a “back to the basics” approach will serve brands best this year. 

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice 

Does Mariah Carey kick off the holiday season, or does it happen earlier, when Pumpkin Spice lattes hit the shelves? It’s tough to say, but one thing is for certain: the flavor has cornered the market and culture year after year. Stagwell Marketing Cloud leveraged proprietary data from its Harris Quest brand tracking platform to discover the public’s true feelings about the iconic fall flavor (hint:85% still love it), and how brands should look to the pumpkin spice phenomenon as a model for making a lasting impression among consumers. Read the report.

Staying on Trend & Standing Out 

It’s out with the old and in with the new. Traditional shopping perks are still effective, but evolving consumer preferences point to new purchasing incentives, according to research by The Harris Poll and Nogin. Consumers want their shopping experience personalized – email promos and brand recommendations – all tailored to their specific wants and needs. Learn more about what consumers are looking for before they hit “buy” here.

Transforming Marketing This Holiday Season

Social media has encapsulated consumer shopping habits, so it’s up to brands to come up with clever ways to stand out and stay on target. Assembly’s “Influencer Marketing: Holiday Trend Report” captures top trends and considerations for planning your approach to holiday campaigns. Explore different ways brands can leverage influencers and nail consumer messaging here.   

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Mark Penn

At the end of October, I brought my bestselling “Microtrends” franchise to the Association of National Advertisers’ annual Masters of Marketing conference keynote stage, and now I’m bringing the insights to you. This month’s edition of Hitting the Mark dives into these small, counterintuitive trends that have big impacts on society and will shape tomorrow’s consumers. If you want to predict the future, you must have a better understanding of the present.

Today’s consumers are older, more health-driven, more diverse and more divided into microtrends than ever before. Our world today is driven by personalization and technology. The march in personalization has transformed our economy from the Ford economy (any choice as long as it’s black) to the Starbucks economy (150 choices starting with black coffee) to the Uber economy (infinite personalized choices). But the paradox of choice is that more choices available lead to fewer choices made.

Here are the key microtrends that businesses should consider.

Life is an accordion. And it’s getting longer as life milestones are getting pushed back for the young and the old.

  • Footloose and fancy-free: Since 1980, the median age of first marriage has increased eight years for women and men to 29 and 31, respectively.
  • Mid-life fertility: Birth rates are jumping for women in their late 30s and early 40s with the median age of women giving birth rising to 30, the highest on record.
  • Nonagenarians: The 90+ population has nearly quadrupled in the past 40 years to over 2.5 million Americans.
  • Senior spenders: Last year the 65+ population accounted for a record 22% of U.S. spending with healthier finances, less need to borrow, and little worry about layoffs. And Baby Boomers are retiring with $77 trillion in wealth.

Tech goes both ways. Many Americans eagerly seek out the latest upgrades, but other groups are starting to intentionally opt out.

  • Self-data lovers: 43% of Americans now track their health and fitness information, mainly on smartphone apps.
  • Technology-advanced people: 79% of Americans expressing interest in a device that would enhance their hearing or vision.
  • Bots with benefits: Over a quarter of American households have Amazon Alexa devices. AI will help voice eventually replace links as the primary mode of communication between computers and people. Bots will soon be able to use personal information to mimic acquaintances and computer-people interactions will become more human.
  • The new addicts: Technology comes with negative effects too. Half of U.S. teens, especially teenage girls, report feeling addicted to mobile devices.
  • New Luddites: Tech backlash is rising among a growing group that doesn’t want constant connection to the grid. While 85% of users have smartphones, global “dumb phone” sales were projected to have hit 1 billion devices in 2021, up from 400 million in 2019.

Wagyu everything. We are seeing the rise of the super-premium marketplace – where there’s good, better, best and Wagyu. Wagyu consumption rose by 153% between 2020 and 2022 as consumers with the money choose deluxe whenever they can.

So how can businesses take advantage of these microtrends?

  • Data is king. You will lose out if you have no personal profile of your consumers.
  • Think services as much as products.
  • For every marketplace, there is a counter-marketplace.

As always, please reach out with questions and comments.

Until next time,

Mark Penn

 

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Our biggest takeaway from Advertising Week New York? Finding the right path to growth with emerging tech like AI means asking all the right questions – not necessarily rushing to offer the loudest answers. We had a blast convening leaders from across creative sectors for our Great Minds Stage debate “Bots vs. Brains” at AWNY ’23 last week, and learned a lot about how AI will reshape experiences spanning education, music, entertainment, and more. 

In this week’s edition of The Well, we recap all the trends we tracked at AWNY ’23, and bring you the latest in artificial intelligence work and ideas from the Stagwell network. Can’t get enough of our experts? A little birdie tells me Stagwell will keynote at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference this week. Read on to learn more.

— Beth Sidhu, Chief Brand and Communications Officer

It’s Not All AI, All the Time

AI was obviously top of mind for Stagwell at AWNY, but while the industry looked to things like Retail Media’s rapid rise for inspiration, we helped marketers understand the other big media story of 2023 and 2024: political media. In our AWNY “Three Quick Things” recap, get the scoop on what marketers need to track as the 2024 election – and political media spend – heats up. Spoiler alert: neither your brand, nor your consumers, will be able to run from politics in 2024. Learn more. 

Can Picasso Live in the Machine? 

How did our AWNY debate resolve? Panelists could agree on one thing: AI is not here to replace humans, it’s here to enable better creativity and more effective ways of working. Which is why we were excited to see this new work break from Stagwell’s Doner Partners Network for Staedtler. In the campaign, the team masterfully uses AI as a foil to showcase the limits of technology’s brand of creativity, and where human hands need to keep steering. Check out a recap of the work in Strategy magazine.

What’s It Take to Get AI Right? A Little Bit of Tech in Your Talent Mix

50/50. That’s the breakdown of creative talent and engineering talent within Stagwell’s digital transformation network Code and Theory. And to hear Pradeep Chelpati, Code and Theory‘s Global CTO tell it, that breakdown is a large reason why Code has been successful in helping clients (like Tipico) make sense of the AI boom. “For agencies who don’t have this, they use technology more as an executor than as a partner. At Code and Theory, we have forged a strong partnership between technology and creativity.”

We’re not just bragging: as brands think about emerging tech strategies for 2024, they should prioritize companies reflective of the specific collision of creative technology that drives winning digital brand experiences. Hear more from Pradeep about how Code bridges the two disciplines.

Microtrends at ANA Masters of Marketing

Artificial intelligence is transforming everything as we know it, generating dozens of “microtrends” in consumer behavior that will become the runway for sector-wide disruption. In this time of transformation, Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn will take this stage this week at ANA Masters of Marketing to deliver a keynote parsing the insights CMOs need to know as they plan for the year ahead. Learn more here

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Originally Released On

PR Newswire

CONTACT:

Sarah Arvizo
pr@stagwellglobal.com












NEW YORK and ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Stagwell (NASDAQ: STGW), the challenger network built to transform marketing, today announced Chairman and CEO Mark Penn will be a featured speaker at the 2023 Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Masters of Marketing Conference, where he will present on:

Microtrends: Hidden Forces Shaping the Consumer of Tomorrow
The future is not shaped by society’s broad forces, but by quiet changes within narrow slices of the population. Stagwell CEO, presidential pollster, and New York Times bestselling author Mark Penn explores dozens of counterintuitive microtrends across business, politics, and culture – from Wagyu sales to internet dating – that illuminate a world in upheaval and the future of marketing.

The session will take place at 8:40 am-9:15 am EST in Gatlin C/D on Friday, Oct. 27.

About Stagwell
Stagwell (NASDAQSTGW) is the challenger network built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing. Led by entrepreneurs, our 13,000+ specialists in 34+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for their clients. Join us at www.stagwellglobal.com.

Media Contact
Sarah Arvizo
pr@stagwellglobal.com

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SIGN UP FOR OUR INSIGHTS BLASTS

We left Advertising Week New York *knowing* that AI will bring an unprecedented year of disruption to consumer experiences and brand growth. But that’s not the only trend on our minds; we spoke with marketers in NYC about everything from the unprecedented upcoming election cycle to what they’re looking for in new agency models. Read on for our recap of the three quick things to know after AWNY 2023 and follow Stagwell on LinkedIn for more takeaways from our panels this week. 

— Beth Sidhu, Chief Brand and Communications Officer

Let’s Get Real About AI

AI will enable marketing organizations to move beyond the era of personalization to anticipation, creating products and experiences for consumers that pre-empt their needs and desires.  

So What? To unlock this, brands must get their first-party data houses in order so AI can effectively overlay, and drive promised efficiencies. It’s also on agencies to find new use cases for how AI can revamp brand experiences rooted in their creative toolbox. At the end of the day, we’ll have to work together to drive the message home that AI isn’t here to replace humans; it’s here to enable them to be even more innovative.  

Overheard at AWNY: “AI is to creativity what calculators were to math. It’s only going to make us better at our jobs, and in turn, better at serving consumers.”  Dan Gardner, Executive Chairman, Code and Theory  

Go Deeper: Click here to learn how AI enabled Code and Theory to help European sports betting brand Tipico disrupt the U.S. market. 

Integration Means Culture, Not Just Capes 

Everything from media channel disruption, shrinking CMO budgets, complex consumer regulations, and an ever-more-diverse consumer population means the playbook Adland runs needs, well, transformation. We strongly believe the solution is a modern integrated offering: bringing great strategy, creative, and data science leadership together to solve business problems.  

So What? Agencies will be leaning into the insight that simplicity is the source of stronger solutions in 2024. Brand leaders will benefit from streamlined partnerships – but as they chase integrated solutions, they should prioritize agencies whose cultures inherently break down the silos between capabilities rather than just going for whoever has the widest capes spread in a pitch deck.  

Overhead at AWNY: “This opportunity we have is so rare. While so many legacy names are being jumbled together, we are embracing an iconic industry brand and investing in building it back up for today.” – Brad Simms, Global CEO, Crispin Porter Bogusky on its next integrated chapter.   

Go Deeper: The new Crispin Porter Bogusky is a masterclass in integration; learn more about how four specialist, complementary agencies came together under the iconic banner from CPB North America CEO Maggie Malek

You Can’t Run From Politics in 2024

You’ve never seen an election cycle as expensive as the one unfolding in the U.S. right now – and your brand will have to care in the next 12-18 months (even if you don’t want to). A record $12B of political ad spend will flood domestic markets in the ‘24 cycle, clashing up and down the marketing calendar with tentpoles like the Super Bowl. No matter the sector, brands are facing a more competitive attention market.

So What? You will have to try harder to stand out – and be more diligent about preparing for the reality that your consumers will be using their “political brains” in the shopping aisles and on digital check-out pages, rather than their consumer brains.  

Overheard at AWNY: “Be deliberate. Whatever path you choose, don’t get backed into it. Choose a path and live up to it.”  Tyler Goldberg, Director of Political Strategy, Assembly, on the pitfalls brands face flip-flopping on issues they have spoken out on.   

Go Deeper: Get a preview of the biggest markets to watch for political media spend in 2024 in Assembly’s Election Outlook Report. 

Stay Ahead of Transformation in 2024

Finalizing your brand’s big plans for 2024? Contact Ryan Linder, Chief Growth Officer, Stagwell, to connect with experts from our 70+ global agencies who can provide solutions that turn 2023’s trends into 2024’s opportunities. 

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