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Future forecast: 2024 marketing trends

Future forecast: 2024 marketing trends

It’s that time of year again. Spotify Wrapped has dropped, Pinterest Predicts is out, Oxford University Press has named ‘rizz’ the word of the year, and the Pantone colour of the year for 2024 is peach fuzz.

You guessed it. The season for round ups and trends lists is upon us.

That means it’s time to share Young Folks’ marketing trends predictions for the year ahead.

Our future forecast? Sunny and a 100% chance of brands fumbling the bag with AI-powered customer service. Jokes aside, there are a whole host of exciting changes emerging that are sure to shake things in the year ahead.  

Let’s take a look at the 19 trends we predict will define the marketing landscape in 2024.

Download your copy of the 2024 Marketing Trends Forecast.

No time? Here’s the shortlist.

These are the 19 trends that will define marketing in 2024. 

Want all the tea? Keep scrolling to explore each trend in more detail.

1. TikTok takeover: the new search landscape beyond Google
2. Reality check: AR and VR powered immersive brand experiences
3. Keep it real: IRL brand activations
4. Lights, camera, content: A-listers redefining the creator game
5. Small voices, big impact: the micro and nano-influencer revolution
6. AI unleashed: brands mastering (and fumbling) artificial intelligence
7. Cookies have crumbled: shifting to first-party data collection
8. Targeting 2.0: demographics are out, communities are in
9. Checked out: the rise of retail media networks
10. Absolutely everybody: brands dialling up accessible content
11. Purpose-driven: green washing and green hushing
12. Advertainment: excite, entertain, educate, or STFU
13. Promotion vs emotion: balancing brand building and sales activation
14. Beyond the beat: shifting budgets to connected sonic advertising
15. Zoomed out: in-person events are back in a big way
16. Anti-promotion: brands taking a bold stand against mega sales
17. Getting personal: lo-fi founder storytelling on social media
18. From scroll to sale: the rise of social commerce
19. Inclusive marketing: brands recognising the importance of diverse representation

1. TikTok takeover: the new search landscape beyond Google

This year, a seismic shift in online search dynamics emerged as TikTok search surpassed Google search in select categories. A standout was the beauty sector, where terms like “skincare products” recorded 28,000 more monthly searches on TikTok.

This trend aligns with TikTok’s broader evolution into Gen Z’s preferred search engine with 40% of young people turning to TikTok or Instagram before conducting a traditional Google Search according to Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan.

This shift is reshaping search behaviours, with TikTok’s influence evident in the rising trend of seeking dupes for established brands even triggering increased Google searches. Brace for the winds of change in the 2024 search landscape.

2. Reality check: AR and VR powered immersive brand experiences

Our prediction game was on point last year, especially when we called the shots on AR and VR taking the marketing scene by storm. Fast forward to 2023 and brands made waves on social media with hyper-realistic augmented reality campaigns – from Rimmel’s Tower of London takeover to Chobani’s AR-enabled Halloween packaging.

One notable standout was Maybelline’s ingenious mascara stunt. London was transformed into an AR-powered beauty spectacle with buses and trains adorned with super-sized lashes that were swiped by Maybelline mascara wands. The buzz around this hyper-realistic CGI OOH campaign was off the charts with 419.5 million TikTok views and counting. As reported by The Standard: “In a bid to sell mascaras, Maybelline has added eyelashes to Tube carriages and London buses. And people are unexpectedly obsessed with it.”

@maybelline 📣 All aboard the Sky High Mascara Express ✨🚄 After hitting the NYC Streets, we’re taking over London💂🇬🇧 We are on the move with #SkyHighMascara elevating your lash game to new heights🌤️ 🌇 it’s guaranteed to serve limitless lash length 📏 and full volume😍 #Maybelline ♬ original sound - Maybelline New York

3. Keep it real: IRL brand activations

Augmented and virtual reality aren’t the only ways brands are creating immersive experiences. In-real-life (IRL) activations are taking centre stage and redefining how brands engage with audiences. A standout example is WellingtonNZ’s ingenious ‘(Esc)ape’ campaign, which saw a giant ‘Esc’ key placed in the heart of New York City, capturing the attention of passersby.

Beyond its eye-catching appearance, this oversized key served a purpose. By pressing it, New Yorkers are instantly connected with Wellington’s offerings via a digital billboard: live job vacancies, picturesque glimpses of the Wellington lifestyle, and a showcase of the city’s vibrant events and exceptional dining spots. It’s not just a key; it’s a gateway to experience Wellington’s unparalleled work-life balance and vibrant cultural scene. It’s a shame it was destroyed in 24 hours (so take heed and think about structural resilience for any IRL activations you’re planning in 2024).

4. Lights, camera, content: A-listers redefining the creator game

Celebrities have long held appeal to marketers thanks to their far-reaching influence. As the boundaries between content and entertainment continue to blue, celebrities are stepping beyond endorsements to become forces of genuine creative expression.

2023 witnessed A-listers like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively add star quality to content marketing while Gwyneth Paltrow’s TikTok promoting Seed probiotic went viral for its zero effort (slightly chaotic) vibes. 

As we step into 2024, expect to see a continued evolution as Hollywood’s elite increasingly contribute to the dynamic landscape of the creator economy.

5. Small voices, big impact: the micro and nano-influencer revolution

While more A-listers may be emerging in the creator economy, brands are also turning to micro and nano-influencers to reach their marketing goals. Unlike their macro counterparts, these influencers, with smaller yet highly engaged followings, bring an authenticity that resonates with niche audiences – and typically offer more cost-effective partnership solutions and a willingness to co-create something truly meaningful.

According to the IMH State of Influencer Marketing 2023: Benchmark Report, engagement rates on TikTok range between 10.53% for accounts with over 1 million followers and a whopping 15.04% for accounts with 1,000 to 5,000 followers. Meanwhile on Instagram,  accounts with fewer than 5,000 followers maintain a respectable 4.21% engagement rate, surpassing the 1% mark becomes a challenge once follower counts exceed 100,000.

6. AI unleashed: brands mastering (and fumbling) artificial intelligence

It wouldn’t be a future forecast without mentioning artificial intelligence, right? In the ever-changing landscape of AI, brands are showcasing both mastery and missteps.

A shining example of success is the Hermes x Lego AI-generated bags which quickly went viral on social media as people debated whether the product was real or not. Similarly, Meta’s AI-powered celebrity chatbots featuring Kylie Jenner, Tom Brady and Snoop also caused a stir. Such campaigns prove highly effective in generating hype and often result in highly shareable content on social platforms, leading to widespread distribution. This translates to increased brand visibility at a lower cost.

On the flip side, some brands are stumbling by relying on poorly executed AI-generated content, often regurgitated by platforms like ChatGPT, leading to lacklustre results. Moreover, the audacious move to replace human touchpoints with AI-powered customer service is met with scepticism, as users yearn for genuine connections and real help from the brands they gave good money to.

Expect to see more of this in 2024 as brands grapple with the technology and how to appropriately integrate it into their marketing – from workflows to creative outcomes.

Credit: Lead image courtesy of Instagram/@Glam.Tol

7. Cookies have crumbled: shifting to first-party data collection

As cookies-based targeting crumbles in the wake of tightening privacy measures, brands are amplifying their first-party data collection efforts. Initiatives like Good Pair Days’ palate quiz, Skylar’s fragrance finder, and Cake Maternity’s fitting room exemplify innovative data collection approaches.

These brands leverage interactive quizzes and personalised experiences to ethically gather valuable customer insights, steering away from reliance on third-party cookies. United Airlines, for instance, now utilises this data to curate personalised in-flight ads, marking a strategic shift towards first-party data as the cornerstone of effective, privacy-conscious marketing strategies.

8. Targeting 2.0: demographics are out, communities are in

As cookies become obsolete, traditional audience targeting methods that rely on demographics (such as age, gender identity, location) and interests are becoming increasingly difficult. Plus, as social media networks become less focussed on connection and more focussed on content, we’re predicting the rise of communities.

Already, some brands are departing from conventional social media networks, opting to establish exclusive communities on platforms like Reddit, Slack, and Discord. This strategic shift enables brands to cultivate direct and personalised connections with their audience, signalling a new era in community engagement. Expect to see more brands tapping into cultivating community in new ways in 2024.

9. Checked out: the rise of retail media networks

Retail media networks (RMNs) are having a moment. Unlike conventional media properties, retailers leveraging RMNs hold a unique advantage – access to valuable customer purchase data, especially crucial in a cookie-less era.

With consumers actively engaged in shopping mindsets as they browse online retail marketplaces, advertisers gain a targeted advantage, delivering contextually relevant offers.

As cookies decline and e-commerce platforms seek out ways to bolster revenue, RMNs emerge as a strategic avenue for marketers to connect with ready-to-convert users within their online shopping journey.

10. Absolutely everybody: brands dialling up accessible content

The best time to start an accessible content journey is five years ago, the second best time is today. From incorporating alt text for images to ensuring video content is accompanied by closed captions, brands are aligning with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in the creation of websites, apps and content.

Prioritising accessibility isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a fundamental step towards fostering inclusivity and minimising risks. Neglecting accessibility isn’t just a potential pitfall; it’s a clear violation of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), making accessibility a legal requirement.

Beyond legal consequences, brands failing to prioritise accessibility risk alienating a substantial portion of their audience, forfeiting valuable connections and market opportunities. It’s more than meeting standards; it’s about crafting a digital space that welcomes everyone.

Side note: did you read that headline in fluent Vanessa Amarossi?

11. Purpose-driven: green washing and green hushing

A notable trend on the marketing horizon is the anticipated surge in both greenwashing and greenhushing. The heightened focus on sustainability is evident in the staggering 71% rise in online searches for sustainable goods globally over the past five years, as reported by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Plus, with a McKinsey & Co study reporting 66% of all survey respondents, and a striking 75% of millennials, indicating that they factor sustainability into their purchase decisions, brands are compelled to showcase their eco-friendly initiatives. 

However, this heightened awareness creates a double-edged sword, with some brands resorting to greenwashing — exaggerating or falsely claiming sustainability — and others opting for greenhushing — downplaying genuine efforts.

We’re here for the brands taking responsibility for their impact and reporting on it transparently.

12. Advertainment: excite, entertain, educate, or STFU

As the lines between content and commerce continue to blur, brands are finding new ways to capture the ever elusive attention of distracted consumers and re-writing the rules of engagement. 

In 2024, expect to see an increase in advertainment. This trend positions brands not just as advertisers but as creators of immersive experiences, seamlessly integrating promotional content with captivating narratives. It’s about crafting advertisements that don’t interrupt the content but become the content, ensuring brands remain memorable.

Big yes to saying ‘seeya’ to boring ads. It’s time to get creative.

13. Promotion vs emotion: balancing brand building and sales activation

The days of reporting only on ROAS are dwindling. Instead, in 2024 we’re predicting a renewed focus on marketing effectiveness. Astute marketers will pivot towards achieving a delicate balance between brand building and sales activation – a concept endorsed by marketing effectiveness authorities Les Binet and Peter Field.

This proposition prompts marketers to reevaluate their resource allocation, potentially favouring a 60:40 split in favour of long-term brand building. It’s a strategic shift that involves targeting wide audiences, eliciting emotional responses, and embracing creativity to cultivate brand fame – an approach highlighted by Binet for its dual impact in amplifying sales volumes and diminishing price sensitivity.

This strategic evolution positions brands in the coveted space of premium pricing and heightened profitability. And we are here for it. 

Credit: Young Folks

14. Beyond the beat: shifting budgets to connected sonic advertising

Connected sonic advertising, encompassing advertising within podcasts and platforms like Spotify, is poised to be a pivotal trend for brands and marketers in 2024.

Leveraging the emotive power of sound, sonic advertising seamlessly integrates into users’ routines, offering brands a unique opportunity to connect and increase recall. In fact, sonic advertising platforms, in contrast to overwhelming social media, provide a positive user-chosen experience, enhancing ad receptivity with studies showing daily podcast listeners are 45% more attentive to ads, highlighting active content selection.

Plus as users turn to audio for relaxation, they enter a calmer mental state, increasing responsiveness to ads. And with advanced tracking enabling strategic ad serving based on user activities, there’s no doubt more brands will be turning up the volume with sonic advertising.

Further reading: get the full scoop on sonic advertising.

15. Zoomed out: in-person events are back in a big way

After the exhaustive era of virtual meetings, there’s tangible proof of “Zoom fatigue” according to Stanford University researchers. Their findings reveal that in-person communications contribute to happier brains, while virtual interactions make it easier to disengage, hindering connection.

This year, we’ve witnessed the triumphant return of in-person events and in 2024 we’re predicting a surge – from conferences and fireside chats to exhibitions and immersive brand experiences. Plus with research conducted by Bizzabo showing that 80.4% of organisers identify events as the most impactful marketing channel, there’s reason to feel excited about this trend.

16. Anti-promotion: brands taking a bold stand against mega sales

Embarking on a bold departure from conventional marketing norms, purpose-driven brands are spearheading a transformative emerging trend: anti-promotion.

This strategic rebellion against traditional sales events like Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) sees these brands steadfastly refusing to participate in discount-driven consumer frenzies.

Despite projections of Australian shoppers splurging $6.3 billion during the 2023 BFCM event, environmentally conscious brands like Twoobs and vibrant gumboot purveyor Merry People remain resolute in their commitment to price transparency and have opted out.

The best bit? Merry People founder and CEO Danielle Pearce reported experiencing an unexpected uptick in sales when communicating their unwavering stance, even as other brands flood the market with widespread discounts. Nice.

17. Getting personal: lo-fi founder storytelling on social media

This year, we’ve seen a massive increase of lo-fi founder content on TikTok – from ShowPo’s founder and CEO Jane Lu going viral for her TikTok content to FAYT founder’s hilarious TikTok’s driving up organic impressions and seriously increasing brand awareness.

We’re predicting that in 2024 more brands will jump on founder-led lo-fi content as a means to authentically engage with their audiences, show a little bit of personality, and stand out in increasingly crowded markets.

18. From scroll to sale: the rise of social commerce

Revolutionising online retail, expect to see social commerce take centre stage in 2024. With platforms like TikTok Shop gaining prominence, users can now effortlessly transition from consuming content to making purchases, creating an immersive shopping journey.

In fact, a new report by Accenture is predicting a threefold growth rate compared to traditional e-commerce, with social commerce set to skyrocket from $492 billion in 2021 to a staggering $1.2 trillion globally by 2025.

19. Inclusive marketing: brands recognising the importance of diverse representation

We’re calling it. 2024 is the year that inclusive marketing will (finally) emerge as a non-negotiable for brands aiming to thrive. The practice goes beyond representation alone; it actively involves and celebrates diverse identities, fostering a sense of belonging. 

In fact, research from Deloitte Digital shows consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities in their actions, proving that inclusive marketing is not just a moral compass but a business imperative. 

Plus let’s be real, brands that aren’t stepping up and getting this right are fast getting called out (and on TikTok by social justice savvy Gen Z. Don’t risk getting cancelled, it’s time to champion inclusivity in your marketing.

Turning trends into transformative action

As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, the key to success lies in embracing change, innovation, and the power of purpose. Feeling inspired? If you’re itching to dive into these trends, revamp your strategy, develop captivating creative and elevate your marketing game, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today, and let’s turn these trends into transformative actions for your business.

Written by

Erin Morris is the founder and director at Young Folks. Packing more than 10 years marketing experience, Erin has worked with start-ups, corporates and everything in between. She loves listening to audiobooks whilst running, oat milk flat whites, and scouring Marketplace for secondhand furniture finds.

Our Melbourne and Sydney studios are open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. If you’re a conscious company with a marketing project in mind, we’d love to hear from you.

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