The NEXT major marketing trend “How”

Updated: Nov 17

"Having set-up Representation Plus 30+ years ago, as a fully integrated marketing Representation company we have straddled 3 eras of marketing from product to brand-led: the “What”, “Why” and “Who” eras and survived 2 recessions". Alison Cryer, Founder.


We are in the midst of an L-shaped recession, I’m not sure how much you all know about economics or believe in economics but it is very cyclical and patterns emerge and repeat themselves. If you want to learn more about the recession stage we are in, do a google around the ‘Economic clock’ and ‘L-shaped’ recession. And if you want to know what you should be doing about this we have partnered with BoB and their L&D course and are gifting the first webinar to those in our community who will benefit (see below for details).


Aside from our core service of fully integrated marketing, we are combining our 30 years plus experience and market know-how, mixed with our ‘ahead of the curve’ insights to help start rebuilding the tourism sector in a more sustainable manner "shifting tourism for tomorrow's adventures". We want to help all businesses in the sector to realign their business’ purpose and get ready for the post-recession boom and incorporate the new trend into their business models, through a series of webinars. And we will also be offering a more personal service, working through proven methodologies, templates, and business models with individual clients to help evaluate, design, and implement their updated purpose and strategy, which will set you off to ride the economic ‘boom’ phase.


Recessions can also be broken down into phases, we have just moved from the ‘shock’ phase of the recession into the ‘recovery stage’.


Here's a brief overview of the marketing trends we’ve seen over the years:


1950s and 1960s: The Product / the ‘How’ era, with post-war economies, there were 10 years of growth after the recession caused by WW2 booming till around 66’ which was followed by a flat period of growth. Wartime recession was a lot different from a normal recession, a lot of new products were created for the home, for work, for space, etc. With all these new products the only way to sell them was to explain ‘how’ they work and ‘how’ to use them. Hence, the How era.


1970s and 1980s: This was the first era of brand-led strategy/the ‘What’ era. There was a flood of products onto the market. Firms had to make the decision on ‘what’ they wanted to sell. A company’s purpose was no longer to manufacture a variety of products but to satisfy their customers. This caused the emergence of marketing teams who evolved into companies, finding what customers need, and trying to satisfy these needs.


1990s and 2000s: The positioning /the Why era. The consumer knows how to use the product and they know what companies are selling. The marketplace is full of brands selling similar products and with little differentiation between them. This was the emergence of the ‘Why’ era, companies boasted about their purposes and answered the question ‘Why Choose Us?’ while sales and marketing teams started to integrate.


2010 to 2020: The era we have just experienced is the relationship/Who era, where everything is considered and it is more about seeking Who your customer is and emotionally connecting with them. Where marketing is fully integrated with all of the company’s operations and sometimes even leads the company’s operations, where everyone in the company knows the who and the objectives for the who.


So what is the next trend? These trends usually last around 20 years, however, obviously, people realise these trends at different times and thus categorise them into different groups, and it is similar to Everett Rogers rate of technological diffusion. You have the Leaders (3%), the influencers (15%), the mainstream (60%), and the laggards (22%). Leaders spot the new trends and implement them first, gaining the most value, it takes around 3 to 5 years for the influencers to learn from the leaders and start influencing the mainstreamers. It then takes around 10 years for the mainstream to pick up on the trend and another 3-5 years for it to hit the laggards/the dawdlers.


It is important to mention that the trends don’t stop and start, but they fade in and out, and it is integral to maintain efforts on the previous trends but with more focus on the new. Trends are hard to spot, and it takes a lot of resources to accurately predict them, therefore small-medium enterprises struggle to allocate enough resources to stay on top of the trends and find themselves constantly behind.


People can be in different eras for business. If you started business in the ‘What’ era, it will be harder to move out of it and into another era without guidance. New processes and technologies evolve such as digital transformation. People who started before the digital transformation in the ‘Why’ will find it harder to move into ’Who’ than people who started post-transformation. Who era people usually post-digital and are building their business around a purpose. This is ingrained in them, such as Gen Z who are born and raised in the Who era and simply think that is the norm.




Luckily, the new trend is just starting and you can have a head start for once.


From the How to What, to Why, to Who….and to the new trend which is the new ‘How’ , a full circle and as we know history repeats itself.


We are now entering the new production era, we will see more new technologies and products emerge, with more of a focus on intangible products, marketing to production, insurance to wealth and growth will need new resources and operations. So how do we do this? And how can we use this?


We’ve seen the marketing space transform from teaching how to use the product, what products to sell, to pushing Why choose us? where we saw the integration of sales and marketing. To the Who era where marketing is integrated into everything and it’s about connecting with the Who? To now back at the How?


We will see marketing move into productisation of every aspect of a business, where people want to see under the hood and see if they can apply it to their own world. We are now in a recession and a lot of consumers and companies can’t afford external resources and they now want to know how they can do it themselves? People from who and why now want to know-how. There will be a lot more content-based marketing. This will affect your business models throughout.


3 key points to note are:

1) Marketing will morph into production

2) Demand will move from tangibles to intangibles, there will still be both but intangibles will start to outweigh the rest

3) Silo to integrated: silo is inward-looking and resists sharing information and resources with other people or departments within the organisation, whereas integrated everyone should try their best to share knowledge and work in multidisciplinary teams that utilises knowledge and creates synergies.


In summary, I have briefly gone through past trends and a prediction on the next trend as well as our position in the global economic recession. If you want to know “how” to find your business formula, to shift your business into the new “How” era and recover through the recession as well as from the fallout of covid join me on the L&D free taster webinar on Wednesday, 18 November from 9 to 10.30 am. By mid-December, you will have your business formula ready for the next era and decade. To sign up email alison@representationplus.co.uk


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