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Marketing & Retail Trends 2024

Zuko Mdwaba
Zuko Mdwaba
By Zuko Mdwaba, Area Vice President at Salesforce South Africa

The more data accumulates, the greater the likelihood that additional services and applications will access this data. However, the uncontrolled accumulation of large amounts of data is not expedient and leads to system inertia, so reducing this “data gravity” will be an important goal in 2024. As part of this, we expect IT and marketing departments to invest more in technical solutions to harmonise different data sources. This will give them more control over their data and at the same time more flexibility to focus on creative tasks, such as the conception and implementation of creative campaigns.

Generative AI places an even greater focus on building better quality data bases. The principle of “garbage in, garbage out” applies particularly well to generative AI (artificial intelligence). Already, 77% of managers are concerned that their company will not be able to take full advantage of generative AI due to poor data quality (source: Salesforce State of Data & Analytics, November 2023). With total data volumes predicted to increase by an average of 23% in the next 12 months alone, IT and business departments are in a race to ensure the quality of the data underpinning their generative AI initiatives is better than their competitors.

AI prompting – Questions are becoming more important than answers

What questions and prompts do we feed artificial AI with? This is what companies will be dealing with in 2024. A key challenge in dealing with AI will be which core competencies marketers should have. Companies will have to spend more time on how they ask questions in order to not only get meaningful answers, but also to gain insights that set them apart from others.

Salesforce will help its customers with the Prompt Builder. Because in the future, it will be about overcoming conformity as more and more companies use AI for their marketing. It is also crucial to evaluate success factors for how AI models are trained. The use of AI will not replace employees, but rather relieve them of manual tasks. In the interaction between humans and machines, they remain the decision-makers.

First party data strategy and loyalty programs – loyalty will have no limits

Loyalty is increasingly seen as a central component of the customer experience in many companies and is increasingly becoming a top priority. Until now, customer loyalty programmes have often been transaction-oriented and relatively inflexible. In future, however, loyalty experience will become a central component of the entire customer journey. From in-store advisory services and customer-centric service centres to mobile apps and virtual experiences, there are virtually no limits.

The basis for this? First-party data! With a first-party data strategy, companies answer questions such as: Where can I find out more about customers? Where can I learn more about their interests? And how can I use these insights in real time? The “reach” yardstick, which was very high with third-party cookies, is therefore out. The watering can principle is no longer relevant in marketing; precision is more important than ever.

Retail media – continues to gain ground

Addressing customers when they are in the mood to buy – this makes retail media one of the most important marketing trends in 2024. The ROAS (return on advertising spend) for retail media is high compared to other forms of online advertising. Retail Media benefits from the seller’s detailed first-party data: advertisers can market their products to a very specific target group by booking banner advertising with the retailer for a target group with an interest in certain products.

Personalisation – Cool or creepy?

One of the challenges in the coming year is how companies can get consumers to trust them with their data in order to create added value through personalisation with first-party strategies. According to the Salesforce State of Connected Customer Report, consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive when it comes to personal data. Transparency is therefore still one of the most important tasks for companies, as the unsolicited disclosure of data is a “no-go”,  and they only trust companies to a limited extent when it comes to handling data.

There is also a considerable discrepancy in how this data is handled: Consumers often find it “creepy” when they are approached by companies in a personalised way without knowing where the company has the relevant information. So when it comes to the question of whether personalised marketing is a criterion for success, the only questionable answer is: it depends. Ikea recognised this a few years ago with its “Ikea Data Promise” and showed what is important: guaranteeing consumers security, transparency and control of their data and showing them how they benefit in concrete terms when they share their data with companies.


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