There’s no question that there will be a lot more technology involved in marketing in the next 10 to 20 years. The fundamentals of marketing itself won’t change, but today’s technology lets us do a lot more in terms of figuring out what individual customers really want, and what makes them happy. The increasing prevalence of analytics means we no longer have to rely on attitude surveys. Now, I can simply ask: What is the customer doing? What is he or she buying today? And on that basis, I can make some pretty good predictions of what they’re going to buy tomorrow, and what was driving them to make that purchase. It’s a bit of Revenge of the Nerds; marketing won’t be all about the creative side of things that most people now associate with the field.

Brands are long-term investments but many companies want to see short-term returns which lead to over-reliance on promotions like rebates, contests, and other things that may immediately move the needle. However, they don’t necessarily contribute to the development of a brand’s character.

Consumers are also becoming increasingly entitled. At one time, excuses like “we don’t sell enough of that product to carry it” would be accepted, and they will choose an alternative. Nowadays, consumers will go to someone else, or get it online. And so the consumer becomes much, much more demanding, because of greater possession of information. You can be standing in a store’s aisle, buying a gift, and go through product reviews and price comparisons on my phone. Certainly that’s a game changer. These changes in the way we interact with our products is society-wide, and reflects in the increasing competition for people’s time and eyeballs.

Marketing won’t be all about the creative side of things that most people now associate with the field.

Students and future marketing professionals will still require creativity skills often associated with the marketing field, but we will see deeper strategic thinking associated with “business strategy” and economics. Marketing has always been a multidisciplinary subject. Even social media steals from sociology and psychology and communications. However, in the end, marketing is like every other business subject: dedicated to enhanced profit performance. It isn’t about simply creating entertaining ads and “gee whiz” technology. It is about creating “gee whiz” profits.

About the author

Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong is a Professor of Marketing at Queen’s University and the Vice President, Knowledge Development for LEVEL5, a marketing strategy firm. With a Bachelor’s of Commerce and MBA from Queen’s University, doctoral studies at Harvard, and over 20 years of experience, Kenneth is well versed in the world of marketing and strategic planning.