What are five important changes or trends in marketing that affect strategic planning?

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There is no shortage of identified marketing trends and changes to which businesses should be aware when undertaking long- and short-range planning.  Some of the changes merely reflect greater or more effective utilization of existing tools, such as QR codes, which are becoming ubiquitous but which are still under-utilized and often poorly engineered.  Similarly, marketers already exploit the wealth of consumer data that is generated through store scanners, online purchasing, and consumer comments posted on websites.  Many consumers, however, are weary of their personal purchasing information being collected and utilized for the purpose of targeting them for particular goods or services.  One of the more important trends, therefore, will be to more accurately or surgically target consumers with a more narrowly-focused but deeper selection of items.

Among the more important marketing trends that will impact strategic planning involves social networking.  This is a two-part enterprise.  Marketers will focus more energy on monitoring social networks for information beneficial to their marketing strategies, while also advertising more, and more selectively, on particular networks.  Monitoring social media for consumer comments regarding trends or preferences or complaints regarding specific goods or services will grow in importance as programs like Facebook and Google+ continue to remain relevant or, in the case of the latter, assume a more prominent role in networking.  Facebook is estimated to have almost 200 million users worldwide.  That is a lot of consumers.  Marketing to them without inadvertently making a cross-cultural faux pas is a challenge, but one that companies will have to continue to overcome.

Twitter has become another ubiquitous presence in modern society, and is expected to continue to be widely used.  Strategic planning will clearly place a high priority on marketing to the enormous number of people globally who utilize it.  While Facebook, however, already reaches hundreds of millions of users in the United States, Twitter is currently used by an estimated 49 million Americans.  [Data is from “Twitter Has A Surprisingly Small Number of US Users,” Business Insider, October 4, 2013]  That said, Facebook and Twitter are very different networking tools, with Facebook a more “personable” means of communication. 

Another marketing trend that should become more important is the emphasis on environmental protection and restoration.  The so-called “Green movement” has succeeded in becoming institutionalized, and increasing numbers of consumers are sensitive to environmental considerations.  Marketing to that growing segment of the public will be more and more important to long-term business considerations. 

Finally, mention was made earlier of Google+.  Google+ is the next step in combining social networking, information technologies and content-targeting.  If the average consumer is already wary of being monitored and studied, this will certainly contribute to that anxiety.  As a marketing tool, however, it represents a trend that cannot be ignored.  The manner in which Google+ is expected to connect people with each other and identify potential markets for specific products may have a major impact on strategic planning in the years ahead.

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