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Shaping the future of marketing

Marketing consists of activities carried out by or on behalf of firms and other organizations, which have implications for their customers. Thus, there is a backstage and frontstage to marketing: how organizations develop and carry out their marketing activities and how their customers respond to them. The future of marketing undoubtedly involves changes in both these dimensions. Below, we offer a few examples of contemporary developments of interest.

Product and service development. While the co-production trend (firms soliciting direct input from consumers) is likely to continue, consumer input may change form in the future. The huge volume of data generated by consumers without any explicit desire for a particular product is becoming an increasingly important input to new product development (NPD). Indeed, we may envisage NPD processes that rely entirely on data-fueled AI algorithms. Since such changes to some extent side-steps the intention-behavior gap, they may well improve NPD performance in certain sectors.

Pricing. The vast amount of information available about virtually every consumer, online and offline, allows marketers to set prices at very different rates, not only for different individuals, but also for the same individuals at different times. In parallel, customers can access price information that allow them to make price comparisons on the fly. Whether these developments will allow firms to increase price differentiation or produce better-working price mechanisms in markets is still an open question.

Distribution. While online retailing is growing, 90 percent of what consumers buy is still bought offline. Most firms thus need to reach customers both online and offline, raising issues concerning how to manage and integrate multiple channels. A related challenge is that many products bought online still need to reach consumers offline. Here, anticipatory logistics and the so-called last mile delivery challenge are areas likely to produce substantial changes. In addition, the traditional face-to-face encounter between the customer and the (human) firm representative will increasingly be replaced by customer interactions with virtual firm representatives powered by artificial intelligence.

Communication. Contemporary advertising relies on media channels and technologies unheard of just a decade ago. Most commercial messages that reach consumers today are mediated by screens and the way in which information can be exchanged – and influence exerted – in this environment is subject to many challenges. As marketing messages become omnipresent, marketers must ask what characteristics a successful message should have in an increasingly cluttered information environment. Behind these developments, a new advertising ecosystem made up of highly specialized tech firms has formed, shifting the locus of both power and expertise in the industry.

 These are some examples of the new and partly unfamiliar marketing landscape in focus in this research theme. Specifically, Shaping the future of marketing examines the organization, rules and tools of tomorrow’s marketing aiming to add pieces to this complex puzzle in areas such as:

  • Data analytics and its accuracy
  • Consumer behavior in the context of e-commerce and the Internet of Things
  • Marketing communication through new media and its influence on the receiver
  • The production and effects of influencer marketing
  • Consumer interactions with virtual assistants and AIs
  • Marketer and consumer reactions to the sustainability challenge