What Millennials Have in Store for Marketing

Predictions abound this time of year. Analysts, marketing executives, industry pundits, and other experts from across the marketing landscape weigh in on what to expect in the coming year. In a twist on the tradition, I decided to ask a few future marketers what they predict about marketing in 2016 and beyond.

I seized an opportunity to do so after speaking about trends and career paths in the marketing industry to a group of students and faculty in the Direct & Interactive Marketing program at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. While there I asked several students for their opinions and prognostications. They obliged with enthusiasm.

Social was a common theme:
What’s booming is advertising on Instagram since it opened up advertising to companies that would like to market on its platform. These advertisements generally consist of a description of a brand’s offer and a call-to-action for users to click to their landing page. Lauren, 20

I also think the next big thing will be Instagram. It’s one of those social networks that everyone is on. The site started incorporating advertising, and I personally always find myself clicking on ads on Instagram—and even discovering new things through Instagram ads. Renee, 23

I would say that the next big thing in marketing would be enhancing the personal relationship with customers even more than marketers already have. Snapchat, for example, is doing amazing things with reaching target consumers and I feel they are about to do even more. Michele, 21

One student called out content marketing, another hot topic in the industry:
Because of ever-evolving technology, advertisements have to evolve, as well. The presence of native ads is a growing trend, due in large part to the transparency of the ad itself. Customers feel less tricked and annoyed reading sponsored content than straight advertisements—especially if that content is well-integrated into the [content around] it. Hannah, 23

Another student had an interesting take on data sharing:
The next big thing in marketing will be marketers pulling information on prospective customers from the existing customer lists of major online retailers. Amazon is a perfect example of a site with a huge customer list that can use its data to help marketers from partner or client companies find prospects for their businesses. Amazon is able to track customers’ purchases and searches; it could mine this data for partner and client marketers to use to help find and target new customers for their company. Courtney, 23

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with the students about their views on the industry. One thing that impressed me was how thoughtful they were about citing a trend to watch. They all agree that there are numerous trends that deserve marketers’ attention—so many that even the savviest marketer could feel overwhelmed.

Another thing that impressed me about the students is their shared understanding of the importance of data. No matter how creative their background (one student, for example, has an associates degree in design), they all concurred that their generation of marketers will need to be well-versed in analytics—enough to use data to tell stories, direct strategy, and have informed discussions with data scientists.

So, what do these millennials have in store for marketing? Their curiosity about all things marketing; determination, as professional marketers, to make a difference to their customers; and enthusiasm for the journey ahead—all qualities that paint a bright future for marketing.

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