It’s an understatement to say that marketers must plan for the unexpected. Without built-in agility and a willingness to pivot, even the best-laid strategic plans can go to waste. And on top of the usual fluctuations, today’s marketers face an uncertain economic environment. The need for insight-aided adaptability has never been more clear — or more urgent.
With that in mind, we asked top industry leaders to share their marketing predictions for the next 10 years of brand building. How will we earn customer loyalty in 2032? Create companies? Build brand trust? When we talk about advertising 10 years from now, what will we mean? Here’s what they told us to expect by the end of the next decade.
Digital and physical experiences will merge across touchpoints
“The future of advertising’s success is predicated upon building genuine customer relationships based on trust, support, and value. As the definitions of digital and physical merge, and consumer experiences become increasingly blended, shoppers will expect united, frictionless interactions with brands across more touchpoints than we can imagine. These touchpoints will need to be built on the critical pillars of privacy, technology, purpose, and sustainability.”
Giving consumers control will lead to more meaningful interactions
“Marketers will need to unlock and enable experiences that take the onus off consumers to initiate action. Privacy concerns aren’t going away, either; the imperative will be to create a future-proof data strategy with humanized permission management, including considerations for biometric data that enable meaningful in-depth conversations with your customers. Enabling these experiences also means embracing AI and machine learning to deliver on demand for tailored experiences. All brands will need to ensure that brand purpose permeates every brand and organizational decision, down to how product distribution might change to best align with consumer services and sustainability.”
Ads will become simply helpful content
“When I worked in marketing at Unilever, all-in-one laundry detergent capsules were the most important product. But I was more excited about the laser pen that could zap stains out of shirts! Looking back, I have always believed in the power of technology to make life better and unlock human potential. That’s one of the reasons why, 20 years ago, I joined a tech company.
“Today, working for Google, I feel that same excitement about the potential of AI. With AI-powered tools, we’re increasingly able to deliver the exact right message to the exact right audience at precisely the right time — all at scale, and all while respecting user choice and privacy. Our Performance Max ads are a glimpse of this today, enabling you to use automation tools across creative selection, bidding, budgets, and more. And in 2032, we’ll be much closer to my dream state for ads: a world where they are perfectly relevant sources of information for everyone, all while meeting the highest privacy standards. AI is already delivering huge value, and the marketing toolbox will continue to evolve at pace.”
Gen Z will have higher standards for brands appealing to their values
“The most racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse generation — who are also the most queer to date — will all be adult consumers in 2032. As we already see in Gen Z, these consumers have high expectations for how and where they spend their money. Gen Z and millennial generations are redefining the conversation around gender and gender parity too. More critical consumers than their parents and grandparents, this cohort unilaterally demands that companies and products reflect their values and communities, in internal practice and external advertising. The bar for corporates is already high, and this will only rise in the coming years. The ascent will be steep for brands that don’t start the climb now by evaluating the relationship between their internal policies, political alignments, and missions against their products, external marketing, and target audiences. A catchy ad won’t win these consumers alone.”
A brand’s story won’t be told by advertising alone, but by everything it does
“Brands that invite people to finally see themselves as appreciated members of society through thoughtful product development, advertising campaigns, company culture, and as stakeholders will be the ones to win out in the end. Over the past few years, authenticity has become an overused buzzword rarely applied beyond the surface. By 2032, the brands that succeed will have committed to enacting true and substantive authenticity through alignment of who they are, what they stand for, and how they value and show diversity. False advertising will no longer exclusively apply to products, but to brand identities themselves.”
On-demand content will become no-demand content
“Globalized human networks and AI recommendation engines are proving superior to traditional media when it comes to maintaining prolonged attention. As AI content creation and more immersive formats are layered on top, our media diets will increasingly feature not only opt-in decisions but opt-out decisions, giving us, as consumers, more control over how we engage with brands across new types of experiences.”
The attention economy will become the enthusiasm economy
“The platforms that monetize attention today will either become or be disrupted by platforms that monetize enthusiasm through direct sales, marketplace hosting, subscriptions, and more, dulling these platforms’ financial reliance on brand advertising. Against this backdrop, the biggest differences between advertising now and in the future will be:
- A brand’s sonic — and maybe even haptic — identity will be as deeply considered by creative teams as visual identity is today.
- The value of human staff in creative disciplines will shift from identifying creative solutions (for example: content, experiences, campaigns) toward creatively identifying problems (for example: use cases for branded products and services).
- As branded content wanes in importance, branded spaces — physical and virtual, licensed and custom-built — will enjoy a resurgence among brands hungry to demonstrate their goods, services, and values.”
For tomorrow’s shoppers, every touchpoint will count
“Gone are the days when brands control — and consumers receive — the message. Consumers of today want conversation and co-creation. From direct engagement on social media to real assistance offered through programs and experiences, the brand-customer relationship of tomorrow will be built across every touchpoint: from what a brand says to what it does.”
Brand trust will depend on responsible data usage
“Marketers will have an expanded calling to help the company tell a consistent story everywhere, all the time. To do this right, trust and responsible data usage are fundamental. As we spend more time online, brands will have no shortage of data to define user needs, design better experiences, and deliver the right message at the right time to the right person. Responsible data-driven analysis will be key to helping brands find their way through a complex and noisy media landscape. Marketers will need to work hand in hand with the information stewards of their organization to understand their consumers and build trusted relationships.”
Customers will have control by design, without sacrificing performance
“Some of our favourite sci-fi films present the marketing experiences of the future as a dystopian threat to our privacy. (I’m thinking of the shopping scene in “Minority Report.”) In reality, a different world is taking shape, one that people are empowered to help create. We are preparing for a future where shoppers will experience — with their permission — the most relevant content and services. By default, they will have the controls firmly in their hands, giving them the power to grant, deny, or rescind a brand’s licence to reach them.”
Marketing will return to its essence: Connection
“I am excited by a world where compelling and impactful campaigns go hand in hand with user privacy. We can already see the potential of products like My Ad Center, where users will have full control over the brands they receive messages from. In the end, I believe it will lead marketing back to its essence, which is to connect brands and products to consumers. But to do so, trust must be at the core of these relationships.”
Explore our 10 Years of Think with Google collection to see our editors’ thought-leadership picks from around the world and read new perspectives from returning thinkers.