Afternoons at Ahuja: A 20/20 look at the year 2020

Afternoons at Ahuja: A 20/20 look at the year 2020

Contributor: Katie Karpinski

Entering its 14th year, Afternoons and Ahuja expectedly delivered an interesting, entertaining, and insightful panel on all things marketing. The panel took place on September 21st at Cleveland State University. Hosted by Jim D’Orazio, an instructor at Cleveland State and President of Practical Web Strategies, the discussion primarily revolved around the topic “What will marketing look like in 2020?” Panelists included Megan Kacvinsky (Partner, Client Services at Point to Point), Jason Therrien (President of the firm thunder::tech), and Sean Wenger (Executive Vice President of Fathom Client Services). In just under 90 minutes, the panel was able cover a variety topics, ranging from changes in consumer behavior to the use of big data in marketing decisions.

Bummed that you missed out? Don’t be! Lucky for you we have a few highlights from the event. Keep reading to hear what these experts had to say about upcoming marketing trends!

1. Changes in consumer behavior

Perhaps one of the most extensive conversations of the afternoon dealt with changes in consumer behavior and buying patterns. Customers are learning to “do more with less” said one panelist, and marketers must keep up. Customers are now looking for instant gratification and convenience. With the increasing use of mobile devices for all aspects of life, both personal and professional, marketers are placed with the difficult task of reaching the right people, at the right time, on the right device, through the right channel. As if that weren’t challenging enough, the decreasing attention span of consumers is also something to be aware of, as one panelist cited that most mobile users now have an attention span of only 6 seconds—equal to the memory of a goldfish! So what does this mean for 2020? It means that marketers need to know their target audience more than ever in order to communicate and convince effectively.

2. Personalization and Data Collection

Marketers are already quite familiar with the debate on collecting data from customers. On one hand, collecting customer data is a treasure trove of useful information for companies, allowing them to innovate and communicate more intently with their target market. On the other hand, collecting data to use for marketing and sales purposes can be considered unethical, and has even put some companies in the doghouse. For example, the audio company Bose collected customer listening habits then released the information to third parties, which resulted in a pretty hefty lawsuit. (Read that article here) But the dilemma doesn’t end there. Having already discussed the need to truly know your target audience, and with the increasing popularity of personalization (which has also become a baseline expectation), data collection and usage is becoming an almost necessary component of any marketing and research and strategy. “The ones that embrace data will be industry leaders” said one panelist. However, before ending the discussion, another panelist mentioned the dangers of relying too much on data saying, “We are still selling to human beings, emotional and imperfect people. That ethos is still there.”

3. Tips for future marketers

At the end of the discussion, panelists were given an opportunity to share what they thought would be the most sought-after skills for future marketers. Their answers?

1. Critical Thinking

2. Passionate Understanding

3. Active Listening

Don’t forget to attend the next Afternoons at Ahuja: B2C Marketing on October 24th. See full details here.