In today's customer-centric world of marketing, it's not enough to solely focus on what consumers need right now. Marketers must also predict the future, focusing on what consumers are going to want and need so they can consistently stay ahead of the curve.
A big challenge for any company is creating and sustaining organic growth, and that challenge is growing increasingly difficult to meet. For instance, in 2016, 38 percent of Fortune 500 companies actually lost revenue.
As the large number of shrinking companies on Fortune's list shows, not every brand is able to keep up with the rapidly changing consumer landscape. Some have tried diversifying their brands and business models, like Red Bull building its own media company while continuing to sell energy drinks.
Others have tried to latch onto the newest technological trends, such as investing in big data or AI technology. Unfortunately, new technology has a characteristically short hype cycle. If you don't already know what your customers are going to want, then the trend could be obsolete by the time you figure it out.
The Practice of Tomorrowcasting
Sustainable growth requires customer loyalty, and that never happens randomly. You can use net promoter scores to determine whether your customers are happy now, but the outcomes alone can't tell you what they'll want tomorrow or two years from now. It takes a combination of practices -- using NP scores and other means -- to predict where your customers' attention will be in the future.
That's where tomorrowcasting comes in. The term, branded by Naveen Rajdev, CMO for Wipro Limited, means determining what your future consumer landscape will look like and preparing for it now. As Rajdev explains, "Non-obvious trends are things which are going to be trends. Just before that tipping point, you need to capture them. ... Going through ton of data, going through a lot of magazines. Going through a lot of articles -- we created a methodology."
That methodology is what defines tomorrowcasting, and it can help any brand take its marketing to the next level.
How Tomorrowcasting Sets You Apart
The idea of tomorrowcasting was born of the realization that, in spite of excellent NP scores, marketing leaders often had no idea what would drive consumers in the future.
Tomorrowcasting calls for marketing leaders, using research and data, to find indications that people are shifting in the way they see the world. After identifying those upcoming shifts, companies can prepare to meet the future needs of current consumers.
The foresight of tomorrowcasting offers many benefits to today's marketing leaders, such as:
1. Using future trends to maintain brand loyalty.
Most marketing leaders would be surprised to learn that they don't really know their consumers as well as they thought. Brand loyalty is not random, and tracking customers' journeys is vital to knowing what's most important to them.
For example, take a food and beverage company that wants to expand the digital campaign for one of its newest products. Even if the product is currently popular (like energy drinks), there may be less obvious indicators of an imminent shift toward healthier, less sugary products.
Being a more forward-thinking strategy, tomorrowcasting can help marketers spot the not-as-prominent trends so a company can adjust products and marketing campaigns appropriately.
2. Mastering differentiation.
Besides maintaining growth, another significant challenge for any brand is to set itself apart from the competition. Today, consumers can connect with any brand, at any time, and on any platform. And a consumer's brand loyalty can shift instantly between brands that are highly similar. Tomorrowcasting helps a brand know how to stand out by offering products or services that other brands may not be thinking about yet.
For the sake of differentiation, diversifying your business model may not be such a bad idea. However, it should be done with a forward-thinking approach that gives your brand the ability to meet consumers' future needs. This will require an atmosphere that promotes democracy, innovation, and the freedom to fail, which may go against a marketer's natural inclination for perfection.
3. Getting ahead of the next tech hype.
Buying into the newest shiny thing may seem innovative, but it can be challenging to keep up with technology trends. That's where tomorrowcasting can help. By determining what products or services customers might want in the future, companies can better decide which technologies are worth their investment.
When tomorrowcasting, focus on looking no further than two years ahead, rather than three or five years. Consumer preferences and technology can change drastically in five years, meaning there may not be any reliable signs of what to expect that far in advance. Two years of tomorrowcasting, however, can offer insight into advanced yet attainable goals so you can more successfully meet and exceed your customers' expectations.
Today's marketing landscape can change almost as quickly as the technology that powers it. To keep up, let the sales team focus on the leads in front of you, and put your marketing efforts into foreseeing the future needs of your customers.