Global trends shaping marketing in 2022: Part One

It’s been yet another unforgettable 12 months in the world of marketing. Terms like NFTs, the metaverse and Web3 have become increasingly familiar to those working in agency land. The pandemic’s lasting effects have continued to impact how (and where) we work. 

While making predictions in today’s notoriously unpredictable landscape might feel like a fool’s errand, as per our annual tradition, we’re going to give it our best shot. Here, in the first of a two-part series, our global leadership team share their thoughts on the trends that will shape marketing, and social media, this year.

The Digital Real Estate Boom
Suzie Shaw, CEO, Sydney

The metaverse has arrived. Well, the concept of it has, following Facebook’s rebrand to ‘Meta’, and Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that we will all soon be living in a virtual world.

Despite mixed responses to Meta, the underlying reality is that digital platforms have now evolved to the point where they can provide truly immersive experiences. Audiences are increasingly spending time in these virtual worlds, so there are more eyes and wallets to monetise; with the result that brands are increasingly thinking about how to set up virtual shop. 

The usual first movers are already here. Gucci, for example, has trialled multiple different virtual products, digital brand experiences, and VR shopping environments. Both Disney and Marvel have created their own areas within Fortnite. Netflix established a virtual Starcourt Mall from Stranger Things event on Roblox. And ASOS created a virtual fashion-store lens with Snapchat.

CouldIs it time for everyone to evaluate the opportunity?

The World’s Irreversible Shift to Web3
Masayuki Tono, Managing Director, Tokyo

2022 seems to be the year of Web3. Today, the world is filled with anticipation, criticism, doubts about this new digital trend but despite the fact, a significant amount of the money and the assets are already rushing into Web3.

Individual investors, institutional investors, and venture capitalists are entering the crypto asset, NFT, and Web3 space one after another. As of December 2021, Ethereum, the Layer 1 representative of Web3, has 180 million unique addresses and is growing at about 135,000 per day.Tech executives and engineers who left Google, Meta, Amazon, etc. are joining crypto startups one after another, saying that crypto is the biggest opportunity.

From a macroscopic perspective, we can see that this is an unstoppable trend.

Web3 is not a “Universe”, but a “Multiverse”. I believe that there will be many more “Verse” in the digital world in the next few years. Will it be thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions? No one knows for sure.

The world is filled with anticipation, as if the early days of the internet have come again. Let’s have fun in this new era.

The Domination of Mobile-Driven Digital 
Donald Wong, General Manager, Hong Kong

Despite being a market with a 305.4% mobile subscriber penetration rate, there is still plenty of room for growth in the social and e-commerce space here in Hong Kong. Spurred on by government COVID-relief stimulus in the form of consumption vouchers, merchants and shopping malls have taken advantage of the opportunity to create or revamp their shopping and membership apps, offering sign-up incentives to become even more mobile-driven.

Physical goods in retail aren’t the only thing being “traded” digitally; while citizens of this center of APAC’s financial activities have already been very adapt in getting stock quotes on mobile, 2021 seeing an all-out slugfest amongst interactive brokerages to acquire new users to trade exclusively on mobile, with gamification in the form of daily tasks etc, to keep them engaged. Fully expect “the next big thing” for this finance-savvy crowd, with the advent of NFT to be traded on existing or new mobile platforms.

VIs are here to stay, how unreal is that?
Christina Chong, Managing Director, Singapore

The rise of the metaverse spells greater opportunities for VIs (virtual influencers) to assume a more pivotal role in consumer-brand interactions.

The past year has seen big names like ByteDance and Facebook investing hefty sums of money into developing a realm that enables users to traverse digital spaces easily, and to immerse themselves in experiences that straddle the chasm between one’s physical and digital lives. 

It would not be far-fetched to imagine a future where brands hire platform-agnostic VIs to become “living” brand personas that consumers can interact with at every touchpoint. VIs could also be the answer to hyper-personalisation, where VIs become walking algorithms that can feed the most relevant social content to each individual based on their digital footprint. 

While the future remains nebulous with many “what if’s” left to answer, it poses an exciting space for brands to do what has never been done before. Brands who eventually pull ahead will be the ones who continue to keep an open mind, and actively embrace what may, at this moment, seem simply unreal. 

Tokenized Brand Communities
Akanksha Goel, Founder and Managing Director of Socialize, Dubai

2021 was the year of NFT’s (Non fungible tokens) – with a third of Gen Zers globally saying they’d consider purchasing digital art. From Visa to adidas, we’ve seen brands experiment; launching NFT collections that ranged from digital collectibles and in-game assets, to exclusive access passes for a brand’s event or experiences. In 2022, as NFTs go mainstream, we’ll see more & more brands embrace social tokens not only as digital artwork/assets, but to truly build and grow super-charged brand communities. 

We expect to see brands release limited edition collections of NFTs (or social tokens) to provide holders with exclusive benefits, ranging from: access to a private forums/chats with brand leaders or celebrity partners, exclusive merch, first dibs on discounts, social recognition or even the ability to vote on important decisions like product designs, brand campaigns etc.  

The limitless flexibility in this space means brands can leverage growth and ownership of their communities – with the most diligent working hard to understand the culture within these spaces, unlocking new, interesting ways to monetize the brand and build long-term affinity. 

Revenge of the Infomercials
Pete Lin, CEO, North Asia

TikTok is now the most impactful social platform on the planet. This is proven by its new status as the Internet’s most popular domain.

So while the platform rolls on and continues to acquire new users, we can see its trajectory towards social commerce. This strategy has already been implemented on Douyin, Bytedance’s Chinese version of TikTok, where click-to-buy buttons started appearing more than a year ago on short videos, and where now millions of live streamers sell anything from fruits to toys to Bluetooth headphones.

TikTok has started live stream e-commerce in some key markets, but there is a sense that it may just be perceived as glorified infomercials, with fast-talking, hard selling, and continuous repetition of product benefits. In China, it was easier to gain traction, because the society as a whole was less familiar with infomercials, and therefore the format feels fresh and entertaining. But, in cultures like the U.S. and Western Europe, where infomercials are seen as attempts to peddle snake oil, it will be interesting to see how TikTok adapts its offering to the markets and audiences.

Tomorrow we’ll be sharing predictions from our offices in the UK, Europe and North America.