Yes, Marketing Will Survive

Some people are excited that algorithms can now choose the music they listen to, matching time of day and even their moods. Others insist on picking tracks themselves.

I don’t know if our editorial director Keith O’Brien falls squarely into that first category, but it would be consistent with his Jetsons vision of the future, where machines not only anticipate — we’re there already — but go ahead and fulfill our every need. Our refrigerator talks to the grocery store, our bank account takes the hit, and a drone drops off the week’s calories.

No thanks.

The trend we haven’t discussed this week, but which has been readily apparent over the last few years, especially in travel and luxury goods, is the extra time many people now devote to curating their lives.  Disposable income and disposable time — and technology might well increase the supply of the latter — gives consumers the opportunity to cast themselves as connoisseurs, aficionados, gourmets.

I know people who go to extraordinary lengths to source exactly the right bean for their morning coffee, and are constantly scouring the Internet for a better coffee maker. There are young women and men who came of age after the age of vinyl, who are now seeking out rare records in preference to digital tracks. Specialist online and offline vendors, specialist websites, specialist communities — people have always loved their “stuff,” but the Internet makes it easier to have a deeper and better informed relationship with any consumer good than ever before.

You think we’re going to hand all that over to the IoT.

Okay, the obvious objection is that I’m primarily highlighting the leisure interests of a well-heeled niche of metropolitan consumers. Maybe so, but to many marketers that’s a heck of a valuable niche. It’s not going away, and its appetite for tailored, relevant content is only growing.

But even when it comes to modest, everyday purchases, from shoes and bags to fresh food, the number of people who want to see, touch, smell — and be involved in the actual transaction — is not small.

If anything, the Jetsons are the niche market; a real one, to be sure, but not dominant. Not in the foreseeable future anyway.

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